7 Ways to Get Your Kids to Help Clean Up

Getting kids to clean up isn't always easy, but it's not impossible. Here are seven simple ways to get your kids more involved.

Two little girls cleaning with sponges
Photo: kate_sept2004 / Getty Images

Kids are messy. They may be little, but they have a gift of turning any room into a tornado in seconds flat. If you position it right, though, kids can also be great helpers.

Learn our favorite tricks to helping little ones clean up:

Clean Up Every Single Time They Play

Start 'em young, as they say. But seriously, getting your kids in the habit of cleaning up their toys (there are plenty of clean up songs) every time they are done playing will lead to it being a no brainer for them. Keep this rule consistent, even when they are with friends. The same goes for other habitual tasks like clearing their plates from the table or making their bed in the morning.

Give Them Repeatable Tasks

Kids like to have ownership over certain tasks and often get overwhelmed if you ask them to do too much. Give them a job that's all theirs — it can be as simple as bringing their hamper down when it's full or replacing all of the toilet paper rolls in each of the bathrooms. When they know it is up to them (and only them!) they are more likely to carry out the task to be a helper in the family.

Pick Age Appropriate Chores

In an ideal world kids can do all the chores, but many chores are truly age dependent. Five your olds likely can't fold sheets or towels like older kids, but there is no reason they can't help load the laundry. Cleaning up toys and putting dirty clothes in the hamper are great starter chores and as kids get older you can add in things like helping with the trash, loading the dishwasher, and clearing the table.

Let Them Use "Special" Equipment

Kids love toys and even if they aren't "toys" per se, cleaning equipment seems to get kids excited about tidying up. The dust buster is a favorite. It is small, lighter weight and easy to use, plus kids don't mind getting down on the ground to suck up crumbs. The Swiffer is another tool to help them with the sweeping part and there is even a duster that can make dusting fun.

And even if your kids aren't old enough to really clean yet, there is no reason you shouldn't get them excited to learn with things like this pretend to clean set from Melissa and Doug or many of the "big" cleaning companies also make minis like this Dyson vacuum or this Black and Decker junior dust buster.

Make It Fun

The minute you label cleaning as a "chore" kids lose interest. Blast music and have freeze dance breaks. Let your kids turn washing dishes into a TV show they narrate or even a game show between siblings. A little friendly competition doesn't hurt either — let them do relay races or time them to see who can complete the task the fastest (and correct!)

Take It Outside

Sometimes things can feel less like work when it's outside, especially for kids. Children are great helpers for yard work including bagging up leaves, picking up sticks for kindling in the fire pit, collecting any litter, shoveling snow, and even washing the car in the driveway.

Reward Good Behavior

There is no reason that there can't be an incentive attached. Promise a fun activity when they finish, a special dessert, or even an allowance. Kids will certainly be more motivated to do their part if they know there is a prize at the end of their hard work.

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