Sometimes it seems like the word “mess” is synonymous with “kids”. If you’ve ever found a mystery stain on your couch or stepped on a LEGO block while barefoot, you know exactly what I’m talking about. They just love making messes!
I get it. Being a mom is tough work, and it’s a lot easier (and more fun!) for your kids to make a mess than it is to clean it. But it doesn’t have to be. Kids of any age can and should help with cleaning duties, and I’ve got 10 insanely easy ways to turn your resident mess-maker(s) into helpers!
Teach Good Habits Young
By age two, many kids are able to start helping out with smaller tasks, such as putting away toys, matching up and folding socks, or even helping clean up after dinner. As they get better at their “job”, you can start building up to larger chores.
Sure, the cleaning they do may not be perfect and you might even find yourself having to redo it a few times. That’s okay! Start building these good habits when they’re young — and make learning these habits fun.
Start Small and Work Your Way Up!
They say Rome wasn’t built in a day and your house won’t be perfectly clean and organized in a single day, either (unless you hire a cleaning service to help!). Try starting with the smallest space in the house, like the entryway or a bathroom, and make them the “Captain” of that space.
This makes the work seem way easier to manage for kids and, by giving them a fun title like Captain, you make house chores seem like the big, important responsibilities they are– AND make your kids proud to oversee them. With time, you can expand or rotate their cleaning area to keep them engaged.
Break Up The Big Stuff
This is especially good for younger kids, who may not be able to tackle cleaning their entire playroom on their own just yet. Instead, have them put away items from a specific category, like all stuffed animals or all round toys. Make a game of it!
Cleaning, and especially decluttering, can seem like a really daunting task. By tackling the problem piece by piece, you make the work less overwhelming for yourself and your little one.
Introduce a Gold Star System
Who doesn’t love a reward for a job well done? Whether this means an actual gold star sticker, points they can redeem for special treats, or an allowance, providing a small incentive for your child can go a long way in motivating them to clean. An allowance can certainly be a good motivator (and a great way to teach kids about the value of money) but you can also get creative with your incentives. Things like picking the restaurant at the next family outing or an extra hour of screen time can be great rewards!
Make a Chore List
Not only can a chore list be fun to make with your kids (hello, glitter!), but it also serves as a reminder of who has what duty that week. This is a great way to make your kids accountable for their specific task. Just put it up in a prominent place with lots of family foot-traffic and check in throughout the week to ensure it gets done.
Dance Party Time!
Who doesn’t love a good dance party? Just turn up your favorite tunes and encourage your kids to sing and dance along to the music. You’d be surprised by how many household cleaning tools make for great “microphones”.
By turning clean-up time into dance party time, you add some additional fun to otherwise boring tasks! As an added bonus, you not only get a little workout while cleaning, but you also get to just sing at the top of your lungs and be silly with your kids!
It’s no surprise that kids love playing dress-up. It gives them a chance to play pretend and encourages them to use their imagination plus it’s way more fun! Invest in kid-sized tools, like mini-brooms and dustpans, small rubber gloves, and a small apron. You can even include more outside the box items like goggles or a headband for big messes. Your kids will love it!
For extra big messes or for just an added touch of silliness, try dressing alike and making up a fun team name for yourselves or break up into teams and go head-to-head on cleaning tasks!
Race Against Time
There’s nothing quite like a race to really add to the fun and excitement around clean-up time. Set up a timer or designate a specific time of day for clean-up and assign tasks for your kids to complete in that time. For two or more kids, make it a competition and have them race each other. Everyone loves a little healthy competition!
Be a Good Role Model
Kids tend to grow up mimicking the behavior and actions of their parents. Why not give them good behaviors to mimic? Be a good role model while cleaning and show your kids that it doesn’t have to be a boring chore. Make it a part of your day you look forward to, at least outwardly. Who knows, maybe you’ll ACTUALLY start looking forward to it!
(Temporarily) Embrace the Mess
Remember, sometimes you have to let kids be kids! Things are going to get messy and unruly, and, yes, you’re probably going to step on another few LEGOs, but it’s okay. Enjoy the playtime with your kids and let them make a mess once in a while (and join in!). So long as they help with the cleanup, it’s okay!
Did you use and love one of these ideas? Have a different one to share? We’d love to hear it! Just leave us a comment below.
About the Author: Linda Floyd
Linda Floyd is the owner of Upstairs Downstairs Cleaning Service. Linda is a mother of 3, loves to travel and spend time with her family.