The laundry was fresh and wrinkle-free, but now it’s strewn in a pile under a mass of sticky juice-covered building blocks. The fine layer of dust looks like fresh snow on your tabletops and bookshelves and there might actually be a new species of plant-life growing on the bathtub walls. Gross! We get it, you don’t have hours on end to carefully scrub the kitchen grout with a toothbrush and maybe your day is so jam-packed with diaper changes, carpools, playdates, soccer games, school conferences and mommy and me classes that even running a duster across the coffee table is a challenge. Does that mean your house needs a cleaning quarantine? Not at all.
If you have kids, then you have helpers who are capable of cleaning. That said, spending the day doing ‘chores’ isn’t exactly your 4-year-old’s idea of fun. Getting the kids to pitch in and help out means magically transforming cleaning into playtime. How can you make cleaning fun for your kids?
1. Turn on the tunes. You’ve downloaded what seems like a zillion songs onto your iPhone. Why not play them? Put on a few kid-friendly songs. Before you shrug off this idea for fear that the Wiggles echoing throughout your home will only make you want to stuff the dust bunnies in your ears, consider all of the possibilities. While artists with clearly adult lyrics are out, there are plenty of kid-friendly popular songs to pick from. As your kids sweep the floors, pick up their toys or put their clothes away hey can shake, shimmy and dance their way to a clean house.
2. DIY cleaner. Your young children should never clean the house with chemical products. These are toxic and potentially dangerous. Instead, mix your own with household ingredients. The beauty of this is that the kids can help measure, pour and blend the cleaner together. White vinegar, lemon juice and baking soda are all ingredients that are naturally cleansing. You can create the blend that works best for you, adding water as well, and add it to a squirt bottle. The kids can also mix together one cup of water two to three tablespoons of vinegar and a tablespoon of lemon juice, soak a few thin dish towels in the mix and make their own reusable wipes.
3. Play water wars. Sometimes the path to cleaning looks more like a mess than you’d expect. After you have an all-natural, non-toxic cleaner that the kids have helped you to make, squirt the mix onto bathroom surface. Bring out the squirt guns and have a water war in the bathroom (make sure the kids wear water shoes to avoid slips). Wipe it down to make your tile shine. While you’re at it, toss the gunked-out toys into the tub and give them a ‘bath’.
4. Race to win. “Pick up your toys,” are four words that no child likes to hear. Make the great toy pick up a fun-tastic time with a race. Get ready, set the timer and go! This also works for folding laundry and sweeping floors.
5. Scavenger hunt play. Craft creative clues that let your little one ‘scavenge’ her way through a cleaning day. Read clues that direct your child to specific places in the house or areas that need cleaning. She has to figure out what chore is on the clue card and then complete the task. If she takes the challenge and accomplishes it she wins a small prize (such as a sticker).
Whether you’ve got a table-filled with towels to fold, a floor with a growing layer of cat fur to clean off or any other chore, turning dull household duties into dance parties, water battles and all-out game sessions changes work into family fun!