Keeping your house clean when you have children running around can seem like an endless chore. Moms everywhere are getting overwrought with constant sweeping, mopping, dishes, laundry and toy pickup. But believe it or not, even young kids can help with chores and take some of the stress off of your shoulders. With these 10 Amazing Cleaning Games for Kids, you’re sure to get all the help you need when it comes to the never-ending housework.
10 Amazing Cleaning Games for Kids
by: Katie Reed | A Mother Thing
If your house is like mine, you will find dirty clothes in every room. My kids change their shirts three or four times a day, sometimes because they’re dirty, but mostly because they feel a need to switch from Angry Birds to Minecraft or Batman depending on their moods. To keep things in order, set up laundry baskets or bins in various places and spend time each day playing Laundry Basketball. Have the kids gather all the dirty clothes into a pile. Then, give them each the chance to stand back and throw each item into the laundry basket. Not only will it make them excited to help gather all that dirty laundry, but it helps them work on their hand/eye coordination and may even eventually help turn them into future NBA stars!
SOCK MATCHING SNOWBALL FIGHT
One of the most annoying parts of doing laundry is matching clean socks together. But it doesn’t have to be a time-consuming or annoying chore anymore. Give all the clean socks to your kids and have them do the matching up. Once they have folded each sock into its match, that is their snowball.
The faster they go, the more snowballs they will have, and at the end, they get to spend five minutes throwing them at each other in an epic “snowball” fight. Since socks are soft and lightweight, the kids aren’t likely to be hurt, and most anything they accidentally hit with it will be okay, too. Just try and keep it into rooms where you know there are fewer breakables!
TOY RELAY RACE
My basement is constantly a mess because the kids leave toys, puzzle pieces, Legos and other items everywhere! Asking them to clean up is usually met with groans and even tears! So we came up with an awesome system that gets everyone to help and lets everyone have a ton of fun.
The Toy Relay Race entails placing the toy bin at one end of the room and everyone else at the other end. When mama says “go!” everyone races off to pick up a toy and place it in the bin. Then they have to run back to the start. A point goes to whomever gets back to the starting line first. You can have your kids take turns in pairs or have everyone go at once.
Their natural competitiveness will have them going faster and trying harder. For a variation on this, you can place multiple toy bins at the end and have them see who can get the most toys in their bin by the end. This means they can pick up more than one toy at once, and they don’t actually have to run back and forth to the beginning. Whichever way you choose to do it, this is a cleaning game that all kids seem to love.
In the same vein as the Toy Relay Race, the Sweeping Race is one that relies on kids’ natural competitive natures. It’s an especially fun one for littler kids who may not be able to run as fast or pick up as many toys as their older counterparts. Be sure to buy a cheap mini-broom and dustpan set for each child.
When it’s time to sweep up, give one to each kid and let them know that whomever has the most crumbs/garbage in their dustpan at the end of two minutes will win the game! You can keep them all in one room or set them different areas to deal with. They’ll be so concentrated on getting all the little bits swept up, and since they’re closer to the ground, they may even see all the things that your stressed out, tired mama eyes miss!
If you’ve ever seen kids with musical chairs, you’ll know there’s something super exciting to them about having to freeze in the middle of a song. So why not turn up the music and play Musical Cleaning? Put them to work in any area that needs cleaning and then tell them they have to freeze when the song stops. Then stand by the radio with your finger ready to pause. Start out pausing it every few seconds to get them excited. Then you can make the pauses fewer and farther between so they get more work done each time. Fair warning, though – while it is a lot of fun, it can tire them out or even stress out some kids after a few minutes. So save this one for when there’s only a small mess to deal with.
WINDOW PAINTING PARTY
If you notice your windows are looking a bit dusty or smudged, but you don’t want to deal with them, I have great news! Your kids will be DYING to help you if you make it into a cleaning game!
There are two ways of doing this. The first is best for younger kids. Grab some washable window markers and let them go to town drawing all over the glass. When they want to erase and draw something else, just give them some child-safe window cleaner and a cloth, and have them clean it! By the time they get bored, they’ll have cleaned most, if not all of the window.
The other way is for older kids. Use a foaming window cleaner and let them draw patterns in it with gloved hands. Or give them a squeegee and let them have fun pulling it across the glass in whatever pattern they like.
PLAY AND PUT AWAY
Sometimes kids just don’t have the attention span for cleaning. This is especially true when it comes to cleaning their own rooms. They get distracted by each new thing they pick up, and it can be hard to keep them on track. The Play and Put Away cleaning game can help with this. There’s more than one way to do it, but I try and stick to one of two.
First, give them a time limit. For instance, play for five minutes and clean for five minutes. This means they don’t get too overwhelmed with the cleaning and can still have fun while they do it. But perhaps my favorite way (and my kids’ favorite) is the other way. It involves more parental interaction, which means that you get more quality time with your kids, things get done, and everyone is happier. You each pick an item up that needs putting away. Then you do a show and tell where you have to describe how you play with the item. Spend a couple of minutes coming up with new ideas on how to make the most of the toy or clothing and then put it away. This is great for helping them remember how awesome some of their old toys can be!
If you’re desperate, try making a scavenger hunt. If they are old enough to read, you can try using written clues, but otherwise you can just use verbal ones. Take a few of their favorite toys and place them somewhere hidden and out of the way. Then, give them small chores they have to do to get the next clue. Each clue should lead them closer and closer to their prize. Once the chores are all done, the final clue should lead them back to their favorite toy. I like to make laundry the last chore and have their prize in the washing machine so they see it only when they load the washer. It’s the perfect ending!
If you’ve got a junk drawer in your house or a bunch of old mail or odds and ends that need sorting, this is the perfect cleaning game for young kids. Simply grab all the junk and put it in a pile. Give the kids instructions on how you want them sorted. Sort the mail by the addressee, sort paper clips into colors, sort craft supplies by type. The options are endless! They can either sort into piles or you can give them containers to place them in. This is a great game for rainy days or when you just need a bit of quiet. It takes concentration and engages their brains in new ways.
WINNER TAKE ALL
My favorite way to encourage the kids to clean their playroom is with a Winner Take All game. I’ll go down with a handful of small coins and place one under various toys or bric-a-brac. Then let the kids loose and have them squeal every time they unearth a new coin. Once all the toys are put away, count up each child’s coins and see who has the most. That child wins the pot! Or just let them keep what they found. Either way, it won’t cost you much, the kids will be happy, and the room will be clean!
Cleaning games for kids can help take the stress off overworked moms. If you need a break, consider putting the fun in chore time. Your kids will grow up with happy memories and a strong work ethic.