Cleaning can be one of the biggest frustrations for a parent. In a busy household with a little one, keeping your home clean and tidy is often something that gets done in the precious few moments when they're sleeping or late in the evenings. Or, as they get older, something that requires lots of pestering to be completed!
Ideally, we want our children to be involved in the cleaning process so they can learn and understand to tidy up after themselves. And importantly, how to enjoy it.
As a child, my parents would constantly clean up after me. I would wake up after nap time, and suddenly all my toys had been cleared, my bed made and the plate put away and, as an adult, I'm naturally quite messy. For me, keeping a clean home is not something that comes naturally to me because it was not something that I learned to make part of everyday habits as a child.
Learning how to clean and slowly forming the habit of keeping things tidy will serve any child well in the future. And there are plenty of ways to make cleaning a fun activity to children. It helps you get all your chores done, allows children to feel involved and have some fun with it too!
Here are my top tips for making cleaning fun for children. Please, let us know yours, too!
Make it a game
Adding an element of competition makes anything instant fun for children.
Set a timer to see how fast you can do it, if you have siblings, make it a race. Make it silly and shout things like "Oh no he's only a few toys behind you! He's going to win!"
Everyone will be in stitches, and you'll have a tidy room in no time! (This is also a good way of keeping kids active).
Use cleaning utensils their size
Kids love to mirror what an adult does, so find them some smaller cleaning toys they can use themselves to help you out.
Dustbusters are an excellent way to get kids helping out with the vacuuming, and they can reach all of those corners.
Also, brooms with adjustable handles are perfect for the older ones to feel they are fully taking part.
Small dustpans and brushes, too, are very child-friendly you can also make them feel extra important as they can easily get to those corners that you struggle to reach!
For those with kids with active imaginations, turn cleaning into a dress up game. Invest in a couple of maids or butlers costumes and when it's time to clean, don the costumes and personas and have an excellent time, Jeeves!
Find what they like
Everyone likes some chores more than others, so find out which are their favorite and encourage them to do this.
As a teenager, I was always more than happy to do the vacuuming but hated it when I was asked to help polish. Work out the preferences to pick easier battles with older children.
Turn up the noise!
Get their favorite music blasting and add an element of fun and energy to the clean. If you dance and wiggle and be silly while you mop, it's much less like a chore at all.
Make it a treasure hunt
Hide some treats (whatever they like) in some nooks and crannies in the house and encourage them to find them. Create riddles for them to answer, and they have to complete a task (i.e., make their bed) to find the next clue.
Make sure you hide them in tricky to find places though and make it clear that they won't be able to find them unless they have fully cleaned properly!
Give clear instructions
Cleaning can be frustrating and boring when you don't know where to start or what it is that you're meant to be doing.
A vague command of tidy your room might not yield many results. But if you are more specific, such as make your bed or put your toys in the box, then this is an easier instruction follow. You can download some lovely printable instructions to help with this here.
Being a little more prescriptive with cleaning also helps prevent the task feel overwhelming. If you need a clean a whole room, this seems time-consuming and difficult. You can break this out into smaller chunks. Starting with cleaning out a set of drawers, organizing the book shelf or vacuuming the floor. This feels much less challenging and significantly less draining on their time!
Add color challenges
This leads me on nicely to the next tip. When faced with a big mess this can be overwhelming and feeling overwhelming by a task makes it much more difficult to get started.
Breaking out to bite-size chunks is the best way to clean, but an excellent way to translate this for much younger kids is to break the items out into specific colors. Say things like pick up all the red things you can find!. You're still making the task more manageable, but again making it fun and educational at the same time.
Everything becomes a little sweeter when we know there's going to be something good at the end of it set small, manageable treats as a reward for hard work. Keep this consistent and long term by making weekly charts that are tracked over time.
Get them involved in the purchase process
Need a new hoover? A new mop? Even something as small as a new duster? Consult your kids in the process as them questions like which color do you like best? Do you think this one would clean best?. When they feel as though they have been actively involved in the process from the beginning, they are more likely to upkeep momentum and want to be involved.
Hope this helps and happy cleaning!