Getting your kids to help clean house… impossible? Maybe not! But even despite our best intentions, a well lived in house never seems to stay sparkling clean. Children cart dirt, crumbs, and who knows what throughout the house, dishes pile up almost as soon as the counter is clean, and there is never a good place to dump things when you come in from the garage from a day’s travels. Cleaning is an ongoing process, and a little further on I’ll share 15 ways you can have your kids help clean house.
My son is just a toddler, but we’ve been intentional about having him help with age appropriate chores for a while now. The funny thing is, he LOVES to clean — and sometimes will remind me that we need to take care of the “messy monster” in a certain area of our house.
What’s A Messy Monster?
We were given a children’s book from my husband’s childhood library called The Messy Monster by Michael Pellowski (#afflink). It’s a wonderful story about Sam the skunk, who, along with his friends, try to find the messy monster who ruined their picnic spot.
After reading this story, I realized we could tie in the “messy monster” concept to messes in our own home. If thhe play room is messy, I might say, “oh no, we need to take care of the messy monster in the play room!” Or my son, noticing the dishes piled on the kitchen counter, might exclaim: “Mama! There’s a messy monster!” It has become our way of identifying messes or cluttered spots around the home so we can take action to clean up the mess.
We’ve also talked about how a little cleaning here and there will keep the messy monster away. Which leads me back to those ideas for having kids help clean house!
15 Ways To Have Kids Help Clean House
So, yes, my toddler is smitten with cleaning. We have a little chore chart for him on the side of the fridge, with drawings and words to describe each task. Wondering what ideas your kids might enjoy? Here are some ways to have kids help clean house that you might consider putting on their chore list.
A note — I always invite Toby to clean, but unless he’s made a mess, he’s not required to participate. For example, I’ll extend an invitation to help with the laundry, or with the toilet cleaning. But if he has strewn toys all over the living room, or spilled a drink on the floor, he is expected to clean up after himself. Now, we do still provide direction and help as necessary; toddlers sometimes have a short attention span and need gentle reminding. But it’s important to set ground rules so your kids know what is expected… and what is, for lack of a better word, optional.
Also, I’m not recommending you just dump these tasks on your child and walk away. Engage yourself in conversation, explain how things work, and most importantly, supervise your child so that the cleaning can be done safely!
- Laundry – sort + load, even “fold” or put away, depending on the child
- Trash day – empty trash, gather recycling, help put at curb
- Dishwasher – empty when clean, flip clean/dirty magnet, load soap and close door
- Washing in sink – give soapy water, a sponge, and some dishes while you work in other half of sink
- Scrubbing stove – talk about stove safety, give scrub brush and let loose
- Keeping things tidy – messy monster discussion, pick up toys before next activity, have washrags accessible for independent cleaning of spills
- Vacuuming – toy vacuum can be used alongside the real thing
- Sweeping – a broom and dustpan, or even a hand broom, are great for cleaning up crumbs after meals
- Emptying cat litter – wear gloves, help scoop
- Wiping down counters – give wet rag, let them help
- Dinner Table – clearing dishes from table after dinner
- Give away old things – make room to play, teach about giving to those in need, help drop off donations
- Toilets – kids love to scrub toilets, and if you use dish soap with toilet brush, there aren’t any nasty chemicals to deal with. Start by letting them help scrub while you do mirror and sink
- Beating rugs – give kid a tennis racket and let loose (this was a big hit for my son)
- Dusting – a dust rag or feather duster can be used to get kid-height spiderwebs; floorboards and windowsills are easier for kids to reach!
Kids Help Clean House? No Way!
“Ok, those all sound like great ideas,” you might be thinking, “but, really? it doesn’t seem feasible.”
Basically, I will always extend an invitation for my child to help clean. At this age, I accept his help, however imperfect it might be, and I also accept his decision not to help. But, if he chooses not to help, I will remind him I am cleaning and he needs to play by himself.
I’m not saying my son does all these things every time I extend the invitation. But, in general, he does have the desire to keep our house clean, and to be a part of the solution rather than the problem. Some days more so than others.
So, what can you do to encourage kids to help with chores like these?
- Provide kid-sized cleaning tools (dust mop, dustpan, rags, spray bottle, etc)
- Use eco-friendly products that aren’t packed full of chemicals. The fewer chemicals, the better. In fact, we clean most things with a homemade cleaning solution (white vinegar and water) specifically so that it is safe for my toddler to be present, helping, and engaged.
- Make it fun, be excited, and express your gratefulness/thankfulness for the help you receive
Gallery – Kids Can Help Clean!
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Resources: Having Kids Help Clean House
Here are some resources for having kids help clean house. You might want to consider chore charts, if that sort of thing motivates your child, or perhaps a more laid-back approach is more your style. Make sure to check out my pinterest board on cleaning for general cleaning tips and ideas (not all kid-related). Links will open in a new window for your convenience
- Cleaning with Children
- 15 Things Your Guests Won’t Care About (And 3 Things They Will)
- Implementing Chore Charts with your Kids
- Chores For Preschoolers: Getting The Kids To Help Around The House
- Tips for Teaching Kids to Clean Up After Themselves
- From Dirty Dishes to Vacuum Cleaning: Household Chores Your Kids Can Do (fivesafellowship.com)
- Chore Theory
- Chore Zones: A Way to get LITTLE kids to clean up their BIG messes
- How to Teach Responsibility
How Do You Clean House with Kids?
So, you’ve seen my techniques. I focus on open-ended activities that my child is interested in, give him a little room to run with it, and just spend time cleaning together. When he was a baby, I’d clean with him in a wrap or carrier on my back. We both enjoyed that.
But what do you do? Have you found some great ways to clean house with kids? Any seemingly great ideas that flopped? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
This post is part of the Cleaning House blog hop. Make sure to visit these other wonderful articles on having kids help clean house!
- Squiggles and Bubbles: Cleaning House With Young Children
- Life Over Cs – Doing Laundry With a Toddler
- Powerful Mothering – 5 Simple Ways to Include Young Children in House Cleaning
- To the Moon and Back – Cleaning The Bathroom With Children