Cleaning up doesn’t have to be a drag. These tried-and-true cleaning hacks for families will make spring cleaning with kids more fun…and teach them valuable life skills!
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Kids love to make messes, and they are REALLY good at it. But cleaning up? Not so much.
Still, teaching kids to clean up after themselves is an important life skill…and if you’re anything like me it helps your sanity, too.
So what’s a mom to do when the mere mention of chores elicits dramatic groans and endless excuses?
Take a little advice from Mary Poppins…
“In every job that must be done there is an element of fun. You FIND the fun, and SNAP! The job’s a game.”
The secret to success with motivating kids to clean (and with so many things) is to make it a game!
After a decade of parenting, I’ve got some tried-and-true ways to get kids to pitch in and clean up the house. Try them this month with your family, just in time for spring cleaning!
P.S.- If you’re coming here after watching the IG Live that Shani from Sunshine and Munchkins and I did on March 8, welcome! All the ideas we shared in that class are here for you, complete with free printables you’ll love. Enjoy!
Not an Instagram viewer? Be sure to follow me on Instagram so you’ll know about our free monthly classes. We promise to help you make parenting a little easier and more fun!
Okay, let’s get on with the ideas!
Fun ways to get kids involved in spring cleaning
1. Play chore BINGO
If your kids are anything like mine, they love playing a good game of Bingo. I don’t know what it is about this simple game, but kids go crazy for it.
We’ve done Halloween Bingo, Money Bingo, Boredom Buster Bingo, Library Bingo, and more, so I know they’ll love the chore Bingo from Shani at Sunshine and Munchkins. I especially love how Shani mixed in some fun activities (like get a piece of candy or give someone a hug) with the chores to mix things up and keep it fun for kids.
You could also use BINGO for spring cleaning with kids. It would be a great way to get kids to do seasonal tasks like “go through your clothes and find those that don’t fit,” “clean out under your bed,” “wipe out your bathroom drawers,” etc.
2. Use chore sticks
If you need a super simple way to get your kids to help around the house, try using chore sticks! It’s the easiest, best chore system we’ve ever used. One reason it works so well is because it offers kids choice.
Start by writing a bunch of age-appropriate chores on craft sticks, place them in a jar, and have kids pick out a chore to do. You can use this as a daily chore system (we do), or you could adapt this to target specific spring cleaning chores that you want kids to do.
To get all the details about how we use chore sticks, including how to modify the system when you have kids of varying ages, click here to read the full post about chore sticks.
3. Throw darts for chores
Change up the choosing of chores by having kids throw darts at a dart board. Make a list of the chores you want done, and attach a point value to each chore. If you don’t already have a dart board, you can make your own with a piece of paper and a small bean bag for throwing!
Invite your kids to take their best shot to choose their chores. Hit the 20? Go make your bed! Hit 50? Pick up 10 items that are out of place and put them away. Make a legend to put next to the dart board so kids know what numbers correspond to which chores. Learn more about this idea (and how Shani rewards her kids for getting a bullseye) here.
4. “Save the world” by cleaning up
For kids who love to play pretend, my secret weapon of cleaning motivation is this super-spy cleaning game. It has been going strong ever since I was a child and my brother used it get me to clean up. I used it again last weekend with my own kids.
The key to this game is to sell the story. I tell the kids that the world is in danger of exploding, and the only way we can save it is by cleaning up all the toys in (insert whatever place you want cleaned) before time runs out. We pick code names, set a timer, get everyone in position, and yell, “Go!” I clean along with the kids, and I use my enthusiasm to keep everyone going. Sometimes, I’ll give someone a specific “mission” to accomplish, like “Go run these socks to the laundry room…go, go go!”
5. Create a “before” & “after” or time lapse video
Have a space that REALLY needs some love? Document the transformation by taking before and after photos. Or, even better, make a time-lapse video. This is my favorite idea from Shani’s 20 ways to make chores fun post. It’s so simple, and I can’t wait to use it with my own kids the next time we need to clean up our basement play area (which can get pretty scary sometimes). My kids love making videos, and I love that this strategy helps kids clearly see the difference their effort makes in the before and after of cleaning up.
6. Bring out the trash monster
Necessity is the mother of invention, and this game was invented in the middle of my son’s birthday party. We had just finished opening presents, and I wanted to clear the space for another activity. Rather than doing it all myself, I got the kids involved…and it might have been their favorite game of the day!
Here’s how it works:
If you have a space with a lot of trash (like after a party, or after opening Christmas presents, etc.), grab a trash bag and tell the kids, “This is the trash monster…and he LOVES to eat trash!” I really ham it up, saying, “FEEEED me!” and making chomping sounds while opening and closing the top of the bag. If your kids are anything like mine, they will RACE to feed the monster, giggling as they try to get their hand back out of the bag before the trash monster chomps down on them. You’ll be amazed by how fast all that garbage disappears!
7. Have a disco dance party
We almost always crank up the tunes during chore time, whether it’s cleaning up after dinner or during Saturday morning chores. At Shani’s house, they step it up a level by bringing out a mini disco ball! They’re super inexpensive, and I’m reeeeally tempted to get one now, too. Want all 20 of Shani’s ideas? Click here!
8. Make a trinket treasure box
Do you know the worst thing about cleaning kids rooms? It’s the little rinky-dink toys that kids accumulate from birthday parties, kids meals, and prize boxes at school. I’m a firm believer in giving everything a home so kids know where to put it away, but these little miscellaneous items are hard to contain…and it was driving me nuts to find them scattered all. over. the. house. Can you relate?
I finally came up with a simple solution. Have each child make a treasure box to house all their miscellaneous items. We bought wood boxes from the craft store and made it a fun project to paint and decorate them, but you could also use a leftover shoe box or inexpensive photo storage box.
The only rule of the trinket box is that my kids can only keep as many trinkets as will fit in the box. We have occasional clean-out sessions where they go through and throw away broken or items that they no longer need or want. It’s a perfect compromise: they get to keep their treasures that I consider junk but they really love, and I get to set limits on the amount of clutter in our house. Win, win!
There you have it! Eight simple ways to make spring cleaning with kids more fun. With just a little creativity, you can teach your kids that the “boring” tasks of life can be as fun as they are willing to make them. And that’s a valuable life skill.
I’m rooting for you!
Want more cleaning hacks for busy moms? You’ll love these ideas:
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