How to Get Your Kids to Clean the House

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Apart from (or should we say in addition to) sticker charts, bribery and guilt, getting the kids in on the household duties doesn’t have to be all pleading. Here are five ways to make cleaning up way less of a chore. Scroll down to make it happen. 

photo: Donnie Ray Jones via flickr 

1. Play Cinderella

Just own it: be the wicked stepmother who enslaves the poor Cinders and condemn her to a life of drudgery (well, just like 20 minutes). Dress ’em up in “rags” (just chop up some outgrown clothes and don an apron) and demand the sink full of dishes be clean and the floor swept. Bonus: later you get to play the Fairy Godmother who makes wishes come true (especially ice cream wishes. Wait, isn’t this just bribery?) You can also try playing Snow White out: specifically the scene where she tidies up the home of the 7 Dwarves: very useful for making beds.

photo: Jaro Larnos via flickr

2. Supermarket Wars

This requires two teams so it works best if you have either an older sibling or another parent to shop with. Kids who are old enough to find a few things in the store on their own can form their own team if you feel they are safe on their own in the store. Divide your shopping list into two lists: for example Mom’s team has produce, pet food and paper towels and Dad’s has dairy, snacks and canned goods. Double check your lists to make sure you’ve got everything you actually need between the two. Now form teams, and head to the store. When you arrive, each team gets a shopping cart and their list and then…they are off. Meet at the checkout or if you’ve got two grown-ups, check out and bag the groceries to complete the game. You can get more elaborate by deducting points for forgotten items and adding bonus points for staying under budget.

photo: kangheungbo via pixabay

3. Restaurant Romp

Want some help chopping up veggies and washing up the pots and pans? Play restaurant or Top Chef with your little culinary cuties. Have them clock in for their shift, say hello to fellow co-workers (siblings and/or stuffed animals) and ask their boss for the to-do list for dining prep before tonight’s dinner service. Got a white board? Write the night’s menu and tasks on it. Now hang out in the kitchen chatting about things but keep reminding everyone that there’s only so many minutes left “before we open for dinner” to keep them on task (and keep it real!). 

photo: laterjay via pixabay 

4. Fake Out

You can have some sudsy dudsy fun without actually doing the dishes: just make a pretend set up like the one here. You’ll need non-breakable dishes, plastic cups, a tub of soapy water and a tub of “clean” water and, if you’ve got one, a dish drainer. Who knows? Maybe they’ll be begging you to do the dishes tonight after all. One things for sure: you’ll have at least a few minutes minus the “I’m boreds.”

Tip: Obviously, don’t fill a sink up with sharp objects when little ones are on the job. Choose dishes they can wash, dry and put away. You may not have it done the way you’d do it, but you’ll be inspiring them for future (teenage years?!?) of service.

photo: Tim Malabuyo via flickr 

5. Play Hero
It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s…SuperBedMaker! Okay, they might not go for that name but grab those capes and see what feats of heroism your little superhero is capable of when it comes to sheets and blankets, putting away toys or other feats of amazing cleanliness. The whole family can don capes and see what they can do in an hour or less. Able to clean the counters off in a single pass? Fold laundry with a single hand? Go team! 

What’s your way of “tricking” the kiddos into doing their part around the house? Share your tips in the comments below. 

—Amber Guetebier


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How to Get Your Kids to Clean the House