Cleaning my home is my arch nemesis. I get one room tidied and then the hurricane and tornado that are my daughters come in right behind me to unintentionally destroy all the work I just did. So I had to make it fun for them and easy enough that my kids can help tidy the house without getting too frustrated.
The cornerstone of our tidying up plan is a box.
It’s plain, it’s simple, and the kids can’t miss it.
How we use that box is the fun part. It can be a basketball hoop in our imaginations, it can just be a box, or it can be a way to earn the next thing your child wants.
So let me explain.
Penny Pick Up
For the little kids ages 5 and under, it’s easy to assign a penny to everything that gets put in the box.
I personally don’t mind putting things away on a shelf myself. While I do encourage my kids to put things back, I give them a penny for everything they got in their own box by the end of the day.
If I notice something got put back where it belonged and bypassed the box, I offer a quarter.
Then if my kids actually help put things back with me when they actually utilize the box, they get a nickel.
So there are different levels of accountability and help, so different amounts of money to reward the effort and responsibility involved in helping. (I typically avoid dimes because kids like to think about size versus quantity).
Set up a box for every team participating. Maybe kids against adults or girls against boys.
Work together as a team and set a time limit. Whichever team does the most in that amount of time gets to pick what’s for lunch or some other incentive.
Obstacle course or Scavenger Hunt Cleaning
You can make your own bingo card with the things you need cleaned and picked up that day.
You can do multiple cards or post one big bingo card and each person has a different color marker to indicate it got done.
Include things like “Wipe down a surface”, “pick up a toy”, “Dust a baseboard”, “make a bed”, etc.. Once someone gets a bingo they can take a break and enjoy a treat that you have hidden in a box.
If anyone peeks in the box, they have to do an extra chore after they get their 5-in-a-row.
The trick is to get the stuff done that has limited opportunities. For instance if you only have one bathroom and one of the options is “take out the bathroom trash” then only one person gets that opportunity.
It becomes a race to see who can get it done and enjoy a treat first.
Set up a box for every person participating and see who can pick up the most!
The Rarely Beautiful art of tidying up with kids
Listen to the Extremely Good Parenting podcast episode all about this topic. It includes some extra ideas on keeping the house picked up and put together with kids and how you can implement it into your daily routines.