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Ever feel stuck for ideas on how to make cleaning fun?
Whether you have one child or eight, whether you work in the home or out, whether you home educate or send your kids to school, I can pretty much guarantee one thing.
Your home is harder to keep tidy now than it was pre-kids. (The Ministry of a Messy House is a fabulously encouraging book for parents.)
Kids generate an awful lot of Stuff! Not only the toys, books and games, but school bags, swimming kit, laundry (oh the laundry!), letters and forms, artwork……the list goes on.
Not only that, but kids generate Tasks. You can spend your whole day meeting all their needs without so much as tidying one item away, because there is just so much to do.
So, with more Stuff to clean up and less Time in which to do it, here are some fun clean-up activities which will help get your child to clean up their toys so that you don’t have quite as much to do once they’re in bed.
1. Musical Tidy-Up
My kids love this one – and it’s great when you have just one room to tidy, and you’re all helping out.
Put on a favourite track, dance around – and when the music stops, shout a number from 1-10. Kids pick up that number of items and tidy them away – first to do it sits down and waits for the others. I get involved too, as it will always motivate my child to clean if they see me doing it.
Then put the music back on, dance again, and repeat the stopping/tidying of a certain number of things and on and on until the room is tidy!
Check out our Favourite Family Worship Albums (the ones which don’t make us cringe!).
2. Timed challenge
This works well whether you’re tidying one room or several. Give your kids a number (25 is good, higher if they’re older, lower if younger), set the timer and see who can tidy that number of things quickest. The winner could get their choice of song to be played, or their TV choice.
For one child, set them a timed challenge, e.g. Can you tidy 25 things in 3 minutes? Next time, set the bar higher: Can you tidy 30 things in 3 minutes? Or 25 things in 2 minutes 50 seconds?!
3. Five Minute Blast-Off
We often do this after dinner as it’s really effective, gets everyone in the family on board, my kids can help according to their age and ability, and it’s always amazing how much we can get done if we all put in 5 minutes.
Simply set your timer to five minutes (we use our oven timer as it’s quick and easy, and we’re in the kitchen anyway), and everyone helps tidy up until the timer goes off. This game works whether you have one child or more, whether you’re a single parent or have a partner around.
Our kids love this one because they know there’s a defined end-point. They also like the flexibility of being able to choose, for example, whether they clear the table, load the dishwasher, sweep the floor, wipe the table or clear the kitchen. Sometimes we’ll send one or two kids into the lounge to tidy toys for 5 minutes while the rest of us the sort the kitchen and dining areas.
4. Reverse scavenger hunt
So you know the idea of a scavenger hunt where you have to go off and hunt for the things on a list, right?
This is the reverse! You’re essentially giving your child a collection of items to find the right homes for. The advantage is that you’re in control so you get to tidy what needs to be tidied, and make sure it goes back in the right place (especially great for toddlers).
I do this one of two ways. Usually I stand in the space being tidied and dole out items to each child in turn, telling them where they need to go. When they return I give them new items until the space is cleared, or a certain (agreed) number is reached. The latter is a good option as then they get competitive so that they can be the first to finish and have more free time!
But sometimes I will put items in piles and give each child a pile to put away. This has the advantage of them not having to wait for me to give them an item.
Again, this works great with one child – you can either play too and compete with your child for who can tidy their pile first, or simply agree a number of items that they need to tidy.
5. Keen wins the Dream!
If you have several tidying/cleaning jobs to be done, write them all out on small pieces of paper (you could laminate them if they’re common jobs that you’ll want to use again).
Spread these out on a surface, or blu-tack them to a door, and make sure there’s an even number per child. If you have one child, I would write out four jobs with the expectation that she does two and I do two.
The first person to do a job that day gets their pick of which job to do. Once done, put in an envelope or jar for next time. The person who comes last to the jobs will obviously not get any choice – so this is a great motivator for getting jobs out of the way early on!
I hope some of these ideas encourage your child to clean up for fun!
Over to you! What fun games, activities, incentives and rewards do you use to get kids to clean up after themselves? Share in the comments!
And check out 5 Things to Ask before you Get a Cleaner if you’re getting to that stage…!