Family, Kids & Relationships

5 Pain-Free Ways To Get Kids To Help Clean the House

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Parents everywhere are realizing that being home all day every day does not mean that you suddenly have the time—or the mental or emotional energy—to do all that extra cleaning you wanted to do. Forget organizing the closets or finally cleaning the crumbs out of the toaster, when most days you barely have the capacity to wash your own face or get your kid to pick up their Legos.

When the kids are home all the time, it feels like there’s less time to get things done around the house, especially since they’re around to make more messes. So parents will need to think creatively to fit in some chores—and get the kids to pitch in, since we can use all the help we can get. Besides, life skills like these are valuable for our children to learn, and you might as well add it to the “curriculum” while they’re spending all this time at home.

Here are some ideas:

Freeze clean-up: Put on some fun music and start a group cleaning project that requires a lot of moving around (putting away toys, sweeping, dusting, etc.). When the music turns off, everyone in the family has to freeze in place—the silly poses that ensue will be sure to make kids giggle. Even toddlers and preschoolers can partake in this one!

Scavenger hunt: This game could help when you need help tidying up a cluttered house. Make a list of misplaced items to find (like something that goes on your feet, something that you can read, something that attracts ants, etc.) and each kid earns a point for each item that they find and put away. This is especially great if one of your main goals is just keeping the kids occupied, since each item will likely take them a while to find.

Make it a race: For tasks that can be done quickly, like picking up dirty clothes or making beds, race against your kids or have them race against each other. The adrenaline rush of doing it as fast as possible will make them forget they’re doing chores.

Superlatives: When you’re doing a deep clean on one area of the house, make it a family contest! Complete with an awards ceremony for categories like most creative cleaning method, fastest worker, most thorough cleaning job, and most fashionable cleaning outfit.

Chore rewards “store”: For kids who are old enough to do some chores independently while you work from home or take care of younger children, you could set up an elaborate rewards system. One mom’s system impressed parents around the world on Facebook: She made a list of chores her kid could do to earn certain amounts of Monopoly money, and then set up a little “store” of snacks with prices corresponding to the fake money. Her son could also “buy” TV time or video game time—both of which were pretty expensive, of course.

I’m working from home for the next 3 weeks. I have ONE child. Y’all mommas with one child know how bored they can get…

Posted by Stephanie Craig on Friday, March 20, 2020

With some of these clean-up games and more, your kids will learn to participate fully in household responsibilities, hopefully while having some fun. Putting a positive spin on chores may even help you all get along better during these times of social isolation—and beyond.


Dealing with school closures, childcare issues, or other challenges related to coronavirus? Find support, advice, activities to keep kids entertained, learning opportunities and more in our Coronavirus Parents: Parenting in a Pandemic Facebook Group.

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Joanna Eng is a freelance writer and editor, Lambda Literary Fellow, and co-founder of Dandelions, a parenting and social justice newsletter. She lives with her wife and child in the New York City area, where she is constantly seeking out slivers of nature. You can find her on Twitter @joannamengland.