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The dust bunnies are scampering about the house, piles of school assignments are littering the kitchen table, and toys and video games are scattered on the living room floor.
With your shoulders slumping, and your coffee-induced good mood tanking, you instantly turn into the grumpy kitty.
I totally get it.
If you’re feeling a tad overwhelmed when it comes to house cleaning because:
- It always falls on your shoulders.
- You have kids running around the house.
It is possible to get kids cleaning!
Yes, even your little tykes.
Check out these 7 fun ways to enlist the kids to help with house cleaning, decluttering, and organizing the house.
1. Create a good playlist
When you’re blasting Young MC’s Bust a Move, the cleaning goes by faster and it feels like your working your smile muscles more instead of busting your behind. Whether it’s old school 90s R&B, Kool and The Gang, or Enya that motivates you, create a feel-good pumping mix of music to get you and your kiddos patooties in gear. You may have to mix it up with a little bit of Baby Shark and Disney tunes to keep the kiddos engaged too, but hey, if a clean house is the result I think we can both agree it’s a win-win!
2. Make it a game
Crank that music “soulja” girl and set a timer to race against it. Changing it from a chore to a playful activity will help motivate you and the kiddos. Other fun cleaning games you should try:
– Play “follow the leader”
Provide each kiddo with an apron and put an old washcloth or rag and a squirt bottle filled with non-toxic cleaning fluid into the pockets. The chosen leader must go through the house and make several stops to put a toy away or clean and the rest of the family must do the same. Switch leaders every five minutes.
– Hold a scavenger hunt
Put together a list of everyday items (magazine, shoes, socks, cups, etc.). Set the timer for 5 minutes, then have kids collect the stray items scattered around the house. The child who picks up the most (and returns them to their proper spots) is the winner.
– Clean the windows
When I was kid I loved to do the dishes and vacuum. I can’t recall when my perspective changed from “cleaning is fun” to “cleaning is crap.” But hey, while the kids are young, we must fulfil our parental obligations and woo them with the magical acts of sweeping and washing windows!
Grab a small spray bottle and a micro-fiber wash cloth and let them wipe their little window fingerprints away! Melissa & Doug has a fun cleaning set that even has a little squeegee that you can use. This mama spoils her girl, my Violet even has a kid’s mop and broom… and a mini vacuum. Too much? Hey, these things teach responsibility and inspires kids to help with chores. You gotta do what you go do, right?
3. Set small goals
I do multiple cleaning spurts, so I don’t have 5 hours straight of knotty-hair, greasy faced, going out of mind heavy organizing later. The fam bam only has so much energy and time, so it’s not realistic to try and conquer every room in one day. Mommies run on coffee, toddlers thrive on cuddles, snacks, and making messes. You’ll go nuts if you attempt to spend a whole day cleaning with your kiddos wrapped around your ankles like Ariel’s archenemies Flotsam and Jetsam.
Focus on the areas where you’ll get the biggest satisfaction (an over packed closet, toy bins) and assign your children simple defined tasks (put your small clothes in this bucket, put toys you don’t want in this bucket) to keep everyone on course.
There will be less kiddo breakdowns and the whole cleaning crew will end up feeling more accomplished. If you don’t finish, that’s no problem! Stay positive, commend the kiddos for helping, and make it a monthly task moving forward so all the clutter doesn’t grow like a mama’s belly in the third trimester.
4. Sort it out together
The loads of toys, piles of books, and endless electronic games, sort them all out together.
I recommend using clear, covered storage bins because they keep the dust bunnies (and mites) out, they’re portable, save space, and the kiddos can easily see what’s inside.
Ask your child to sort toys that are similar, like Barbie dolls and GI Joes in one bin, and Legos and blocks in another. Books can be organized by anything really, size, color, author, or subject. I know I should recommend that you ask your child to go through her book collection and choose a few books that she is willing to give away…but I have a special kinship with books! Sorry Marie Kondo worshipers, I just can’t preach something that I won’t do myself.
Tackling all those DVDs, CDs, and computer games should be up next. Reward your kids with points for how many things they donate, throw away, or put away in the right spot. When they reach a certain amount, like 10 pieces, allow them to cash it in for a little surprise. Maybe, a special treat or a day at the zoo?
Involve your kids when deciding where the toys should be stored, then label the shelves, bins, or baskets with pictures or words (depending on her age). Labeling also helps when Grandma or the babysitter is watching your kids. They can help keep the kiddos accountable and on track with getting the toys back in the right spots.
Of course, you will still have to remind them to pick stuff up. How old is your husband and how often does he need reminding? Exactly.
Having a designated spot for all the toys, books, and gadgets means that your kids will know where the toys need to go when you ask them to clean up. Even better, they can pick all that stuff up without your supervision.
5. Do some good
This is the perfect opportunity to teach your child the importance of giving back and helping others in need. When your child passes on their old toys and clothes to others less fortunate, decluttering becomes an opportunity to teach your child about kindness.
Educate your children on why giving to others is important and explain how some individuals don’t have the basic necessities or toys of their own. Consider donating old blankets to an animal shelters or toys to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or local shelter.
You can use the Homeless Shelter Directory to find shelters in your area. If you’re able, bring your donations directly to the organization or person who will be using it. It will make it easier to let it go and your child will hopefully remember how happy and appreciative the other person was, and how good it feels to help others.
6. Buy less
It is always so thoughtful when someone wants to buy you or your child gifts, but try to shift everyone’s mindset from getting stuff to gaining experiences. Encourage your kids to ask for trips to a museum, local water park, or dinner out with the cousins, instead of physical gifts. The memories are far more priceless. Kids won’t remember the toys 20 years from now, they will remember the times spent they spent with their loved ones doing fun stuff.
7. Have a yard sale
Once all that cleaning has winded down, it’s the perfect time for a yard or garage sale. Have your kiddos use their imagination to design big bright signs and post them in the neighborhood to advertise the date and time of your sale (don’t forget to remove the signs when the yard sale is over).
Growing up, we lived at yard sales. We went to them every weekend and had them all the time. I remember helping my mom price out items and setting up everything you could imagine on tables and the front lawn. Yard sales also taught me how to negotiate at a very young age. Yes, my mom would actually direct buyers to me when they were asking about my toys and stuff I personally chose to set out.
Just remember, for the older kiddos, do not try to be sly and sell their personal belongings without their consent. I discovered my mom put my Laura Ingalls Wilder book set out after seeing my favorite book, On the Banks of Plum Creek, tucked under an old man’s arm. I can still remember the alarmed look on his face after I rushed him, crying that he took my favorite book! Yeaaah, it was like that.
Lastly, remember to share some of those awesome profits with your minions to reward their hard work! Hey, $3 or $4 goes a long way in their eyes.
Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be a life suck. Take advantage of this opportunity to have some good clean fun with your kids and a healthy dose of learning.