All your day-to-day cleaning tasks would be easy if your kids could clean up after themselves. Parents have always struggled to get their pride-and-joys to put away their toys, but tidying up is a crucial habit that can lead to positive behaviors later in a child’s life.
If you’re wondering how to make cleaning fun for kids and incorporate it as a regular part of their chores, it comes down to clear communication, age-appropriate tasks, and keeping it fresh. We’ve even got a few HVAC-related chores that your kids can help tackle (without touching any tools).
Understanding Kids’ Cleaning Motivation
Any parent that has asked their kid to clean their room has almost certainly been met with a frustrating but completely fair question: “Why?”
To be clear, “Because I said so” is not a great response. This style of authoritarian response limits communication, stunts reasoning behavior, and affects how your children see how the world works.
Instead, think about ways to show your kids how cleaning up serves a purpose by teaching lessons. Some points worth raising include:
Hygiene. If your kids think spinach is yucky, wait until they hear how gross mold, dust, and dirty dish towels are. Explain how cleaning can keep themselves, their pets, and their lovely parents healthy, and they might just have their answer to why we all need to clean.
Part of life. Getting kids to clean up is also a life-long lesson in taking on tasks we may not want to do. Presenting cleaning as a part of life, not simply a chore and certainly not a punishment, is a great way to improve their ability to handle the less exciting things they’ll face in the years ahead.
Empowerment. Research shows that including children in cleaning tasks can help them develop a strong sense of responsibility and self-reliance that sticks with them throughout their lives.
Fun Cleaning Games for Kids
One of the easiest ways to turn cleaning from chore to fun is to make it a game. While there is certainly some debate and plenty of strong opinions about paying your kids to clean up, there’s no argument that gamifying cleaning is an effective way to reduce obstinance.
On Your Mark, Get Set…GO! Want to get the cleaning done fast? Assign your kids age-appropriate tasks and challenge them to race you. See who gets done first, and no matter who is the fastest, everyone's a winner when the cleaning is done!
Assign points. Not all cleaning tasks are created equal. To make cleaning more egalitarian around the home, assign points based on the time and type of cleaning chores and set a minimum for everyone to complete. You’ll find that kids are quick to do the fastest and easiest tasks, even if they have to do more of them. If that leaves you with cleaning the bathroom, it might mean that all the other chores are finished by the time you’re done.
How to Get Kids Helping with HVAC
Yep, the kids can help with your home’s heating and air conditioning needs too! One of the benefits of including them in this type of chore is helping them appreciate the many things that go into making them comfortable. It can also spark a wider interest in how things work that can keep them curious their whole lives.
- Clear and clean vents. Toys, books, and everything your kids play with cover every inch of the floor, and that can include your vents or registers. Ask kids to check that every vent in the home is clear of toys or clothes. They might also wipe down those vents if needed.
- Make energy efficiency chores. Just as we teach kids the importance of recycling, energy efficiency is a topic that will be a big part of their lives. Ask kids to take over energy conservation tasks like closing blinds against the summer heat, checking for open or cracked doors and windows while running the AC or heat, or asking them to use the bathroom fan while showering to reduce the risk of moisture buildup in the cooling system.
- Check the calendar. Use the family calendar to track when your air filter needs to be replaced and task older kids with reminding parents to get a new filter when it’s time. Air filters should be replaced every three months, so this is one of the easiest chores they can have!