6 Ways to Trick Kids (and Some Adults) Into Cleaning

We get it. Cleaning is a chore. If it were always awesome and fun and easy, we wouldn’t get so many chances to do what we do. That being said, cleaning isn’t really an optional thing; after all, dishes must get done, laundry must get washed (and dried, folded and put away), and the bathrooms must be sighed over. Housework is as much a part of relationship building as it is a part of life, so we thought we’d share with you a few ways to make it as enjoyable as possible.

Make it a game.

As in game show. For this to work properly, you’ll need two bowls, a variety of dress-up clothing, several slips paper, and a pen. Write down your list of chores on individual slips of paper and place them all in one bowl. Write down every item of dress-up clothing on its own slip of paper and place them into the other bowl. As contestants are called forth, they must draw a chore and the dress-up item they must wear while doing that chore. Once everyone has a chore and is draped in the appropriate attire, set a timer (or play a theme song), and see how much everyone can get done in that time. Group photo optional.

Faith, trust, and pixie dust.

If your house has hardwoods like mine, you may wonder how it is that no matter how often you sweep, you still manage to gross yourself out. New tactic. Give each child a broom (or a floor brush) and a dustpan and tell them to sweep up as much pixie dust as they can find. You can make it a competition, or you can turn it into a story and tell them as soon as they collect enough, they can toss it outside to give it back to the fairies so they can continue to fly.

Hide money.

If you have a teen on laundry duty, tell her she can have all the money she finds in the pockets (and then be lazy about emptying yours). Place dollar bills under items that should be moved while dusting, and place coins on the floor for sweepers to find. Bonus: You don’t have to worry about adding money to the couch. Chances are it’s already there.

Make a thankful scavenger hunt.

If you aren’t into rewarding kids for doing a job you feel is a natural part of being a family, hide tiny thank you notes around the house. Say things like “I just KNEW you would do a thorough job!” and “Thanks for noticing this needed to be done.”

Set their eyes on the prize.

There’s nothing wrong with a work-before-you-play mentality, especially when it comes to pitching in with housework. A promised trip to a playground, shopping mall, or the last brownie may be all it takes for beds to be made, dishes to be washed, and laundry to be put away. Be specific about the tasks that need to be done and by what time, so that everyone is clear and everyone can win.

Get messy to get clean.

Sometimes it’s about keeping kids occupied so you can tackle the adult-only stuff (ahem, I was referring to cleaning). Grab huge sponges and fill up a bucket with water and a ridiculous amount suds and send them outside to wash their bikes. Or your car. Or the patio furniture. The point isn’t to actually clean, but to teach them that cleaning, and taking care of the things you have, is a part of life.

While most of these tips are geared toward kids, we aren’t afraid to admit they work pretty well with grown-ups, too.  Which one will you try first?

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