My super cool and funny friend, Kristie, has this list of tricks she uses to get her kids to help her clean the house. It is such a great list with truly brilliant ideas that I just have to share it here. I know that a lot of my friends and family could benefit from these tips as I have.
The Lucky Jar - The kids just started new charts today. If the kids accomplish all of their jobs for a given day they get to pick something out of the Lucky Jar. But only on Fridays. If they do every job every day they get to pick out of the lucky jar five times. The lucky jar has slips of paper that give them special snacks, special time with mom or dad, stay up late minutes or 'skip a job' passes for the coming week. The kids can hardly wait.
Bomb in the Kitchen – Set the oven timer for x amount of minutes. Work hard to get the kitchen cleaned and out of the room before the bomb goes off... otherwise you need to make a dramatic death scene on the kitchen floor. Make sure to add more time than you think. The best part of this game is standing at the edge of the clean kitchen and thinking of things you need to ‘run in’ and do without dying.
Train Cleaning – This is J’s favorite and mine too. I am the engine. The kids line up behind me. I point to something on the floor and the one right behind me gets out of line to put it away and then hops to the back of the line again. I try to go so fast that I don’t have any ‘cars’ behind me. We choo-choo through the house looking for whatever needs to be put away.
Set the timer’ Cleaning – This is when all of us clean together and it usually involves a few rooms... like our family room, entry and kitchen which are all connected. We set the timer for 20 minutes and work until the buzzer goes off. If I see the kids distracted or not working I add a minute. The kids love knowing exactly when they will be done with the job.
Sticky note choices – when the kids come home from school, (or on Saturday mornings) the kitchen island is covered in sticky notes. One job is on each... some easy, some hard. Starting with the youngest they pick their jobs, one at a time. My kids love this one because they are different every day depending on what I need done. I always try to add fun and silly ones, like “tell your mom she’s great” because of course I always need words of affirmation, or “play outside with M” which actually is a big help to me but they think they are lucking out.
Countdown Cleaning – “Kids, I need everyone to pick up 10 things in the ____ room.” Once done they come give me a high five. Then I tell them to pick up 9 things. Then 8... then 7... etc. They start giggling when they are down to the end and they have to keep running to give me five between every one.
Movie Pause Cleaning – Put on a movie for the kids... who doesn’t love this already? Explain that whenever you push pause on the movie they have to quickly put 10 things away and then run and jump back on the couch so the movie can start again.
Erase a Job – Have a list of jobs ready for each kid. Tell them that if they clean the first thing good enough that it passes ‘mom inspection’ then they can cross off the last job on the list... and so on.
5 things away before Snack – J is notorious for asking for snacks 10 times a day. Each time she asks I say “Put away five things and then you can have a snack.”
These are just a few- but it really does help to make them more excited to clean- heck, it makes me more excited to clean!