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How to Make Cleaning Fun for Kids

The following post is from Amanda of How to Make Cleaning Fun for Kids

I used to teach Bible stories in our church’s preschool class. When I walked in, we’d all sing, “It’s clean up time, it’s clean up time, let’s put the toys away…” And what do you know? Those little preschoolers and toddlers would hop right up, put their toys away without a complaint or a pout.

Now, I have a preschooler and an elementary-aged kid of my own.  I wish I could just turn on some music that would magically make them clean their rooms or pick up their toys around the house.

Instead of harping, nagging, and hounding my kids into picking up their mess, I try to think of different ways to encourage them and even add incentives to motivate them to clean up.

Here are a few ideas to help make picking up and cleaning up fun…ok, well, at least a little more fun:

1. Make a checklist.

Write a checklist on a chalkboard, a piece of paper or even on an easel if you have one. Pick the five things that need to be cleaned the most and write (or draw pictures of them for your non-readers) them down. Then, let the kids check them off when they are done. Using a marker on a whiteboard is somehow incentive enough for my kids to keep working!

2. Make a pile.

Sometimes when every toy, game piece, and crayon is scattered from hither to yon in the playroom, I can see my kids’ eyes glaze over at the enormity of the task. So, I’ll bulldoze everything into a pile on the floor. Then we’ll race to see how quickly we can get the pile eliminated.

Taking away the whole “what should I clean first” problem helps them stay focused on actually doing the cleaning!

3. Make a square.

I know when I’ve got a big mess to clean up, I have to take it in small portions. Cleaning the whole kitchen overwhelms me but picking up the dirty glasses, I can do!

To help my kids keep the small tasks in front of them, I’ll mark off a space in their room, “Only clean up what’s on the floor in between the closet and the desk.” That’s an easy, doable task that helps them be confident about going onto the next space.

4. Make a game.

Some kids need a reward. Try picking a simple prize (our favorite is a handful of chocolate chips), then set a timer for 10-15 minutes. As you pick up items and put them away (in their correct spot), count each one. Whoever has put away the most things when the timer goes off gets the prize. (We usually let the winner decide if the rest of us gets the prize, too. And they usually say yes. And everybody wins!)

This doesn’t make cleaning their favorite thing, but it makes the chore go by more quickly. Regardless of what we clean or how we do it, I always focus on taking care of our family. We keep our home clean because we want to honor our family–the stuff we have, the people who use it, the people who bought it, and the space we share. Cleaning together also promotes belonging, helpfulness and servanthood. I want to use everything I can (even cleaning up) to bring fun and togetherness to our family!

What’s your favorite creative way to clean the house with your kids?


Amanda is a stay-at-home mom of two who blogs at In her former life, Amanda was a Children’s Pastor — overseeing, organizing and developing ministry for kids in nursery through middle school, but now that she is a mom, her “skills” are used up on her kids!