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10 Ways To Trick Your Kids Into Enjoying Chores

I know, you’re probably wondering, “Did I actually read that right?!” Cleaning and kids. Two words that don’t seem to go together. 

In my experience, cleaning with kids is like pulling teeth. It seems like a constant nagging game to get them even to do one simple house chore. 

Why is it so difficult for them? 

Kids have a hard time focusing. Their frontal lobe, the front part of the brain responsible for decision-making and focus, is not fully developed. 

In fact, the frontal lobe will not reach its peak performance until about 25 years of age. No wonder kids have a hard time making decisions, remembering what we told them “not to do”, and following long directions!!

This can be tricky when trying to teach kids the importance of housework and cleaning. 

But have no fear! We are here to help and your kids will be cleaning (and smiling while they do it) in no time! 

10 FUN Ideas for Housework

Mom and daughter cleaning windows together

1. Your Attitude Says It All 

Our kids learn from us. Every word, every action, every non-verbal cue. They are like little sponges soaking it ALL in. 

So when we choose to have a pessimistic view of the jobs that need to be done, then our kids will start to develop that too. 

Let’s change it up! Smile while you mop the floor. Sing your heart out while you do the dishes. Dance like nobody is watching while you vacuum. 

Pretty soon they will start to catch on. You might even have them asking you if THEY can vacuum too! 

Try to use positive language when talking about cleaning. 

Instead of saying to your spouse, “ugh. There are so many dishes and I just can’t get myself to do them”… try this, “Wow there are a lot of dishes! I wonder how many of my favorite songs I will get to listen to while I do them”. 

Attitude makes all the difference!

2. Take Turns Choosing a Song 

This one is fun! Kids love it when we, as adults, let them pick the music. 

So why not dance around together to THEIR favorite song? Pull out some of your high school dance moves and show off! 

Get those vocal chords going! Sing loud and proud. 

Enjoy the bond and deeper connection that forms as you are clearing the dinner table and loading the dishwasher together. 

3. Listen to an Audio Book 

This is a great one for deep cleaning a bathroom or folding laundry. 

Try to pick a specific book and a specific household chore. Then only listen to that audio book when it is time for that task. 

You’ll be amazed how excited your kids will be to fold laundry with you and they might even be sad when it is finished. 

Tip: Pick a book with cliffhangers and a good plot. At our house, the favorite is Magic Tree House. 

4. High 5’s 

It’s hard to remember all the things that need to be done in the morning to be ready for the day (especially in the school year if you have older children). 

You might consider trying out “High 5’s”. Just a simple way for them to remember the 5 most important things to get done. 

These will vary depending on your home and family, but ours are as follows: Get dressed, make bed, brush teeth, comb hair, say prayers. 

When they finish make sure to give them a BIG high-5. And a hug, because it’s a huge accomplishment for kids to remember that many tasks and work hard to complete them! 

5. Make It A Race 

Kids love to race! And even better? They love to race against their parents! 

If you have two bathrooms, each of you pick one and race to see who can be back to the kitchen first. 

Maybe you need the dinner table cleared and the dishwasher loaded. Race! 

You could even use this to put clothes away by each putting away one person’s clothes that have been folded. 

Make sure you come up with a fun reward for who wins. Something simple like, “Whoever wins gets to choose a game to play together” or “winner gets to give the other person a big hug”. 

6. Play Pretend 

Have you heard of the book series Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle? If not, I highly recommend it! 

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle can cure any behavior problems that children might be experiencing. She teaches children how to clean, how to respond politely, how to pick up after themselves… you get the point. 

To get the children to do these things, she uses some “magic”. By pretending to be a witch who will eat you if the sink isn’t sparkling, or becoming a dragon who will breathe fire on you if the beds have even the smallest wrinkle in them. 

Kids LOVE to play pretend and have the best imaginations. Trust me, they will clean and do it in the blink of an eye if you will take the time to be creative and pretend with them. 

So pull out that dish towel for a cape, grab a walking stick from outside, and let the fun begin! 

7. Use a Visual Timer 

Youngsters don’t understand the concept of time. That can be quite stressful when you are trying to get them to clean up and you have a time constraint. 

Visual timers can be very helpful in this department! It shows the child just how much time is left by shading in a portion of the clock. 

These can be found in apps or you can purchase a tangible one from Amazon. 

The app timers sometimes even come with fun surprises! So when the timer goes off, fireworks start and fun music plays. Or a surprise animal will hatch from an egg. 

So many options here and your kids will be looking forward to cleaning! 

8. Surprise the Other Parent 

Who doesn’t love surprises? Young kids, especially, think it’s hilarious when they are “in” on the surprise. 

If your spouse works away from home, tell your child, “Let’s vacuum all the floors and surprise Dad”. 

Then before he gets home, hide in one of the rooms that was vacuumed. When he walks in, jump out and yell, “SURPRISE”! 

Your kiddo will get a kick out of it thinking they really pulled off a great surprise! 

9. Play A Game 

Sometimes cleaning can be daunting for kids. They feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. 

This one is especially useful when picking up toys or items around the house. 

Here’s an example: “you pick up everything that is blue and I will pick up everything that is green. Ready, set, go!” 

Or you could try my personal favorite… “Floor Glue”. 

You all of a sudden start getting stuck to the floor. First your feet, then your legs, then your back, followed by arms, neck, and head. You are now “STUCK”.

Act desperate and tell your kids that the only way you are going to be able to get “unstuck” is if they can clean up all the toys! 

Every few toy items they put away, have another body limb come off the ground. Until eventually you are completely “free”. 

Trust me, your kids will love it! 

10. Have Something To Look Forward To

Sometimes all that’s needed is a little motivation. First, figure out something your child loves. 

This could be playing in the backyard, going to the park, playing a game, playing make believe, racing cars, painting, etc.

Say to your kiddo, “Let’s scrub all the toilets together as fast as we can and then let’s go play in the backyard together”. 

Try to refrain from using “if-then” statements such as: “If you help me clean all the toilets then I will come play in the backyard with you”. 

It’s very conditional and kids catch on pretty quick realizing that you only want to play with them IF they help you. 

Instead, use the word “Let’s”. This helps them feel included and like you are on the same team– liking both the housework AND the playing together!  

Hopefully, these ideas help to ease your burden of cleaning and nagging kids to do their part! Add in one of these fun tips and let the magic begin! 

Leave a comment to let us know how it goes! Happy Housework!

Little girl with a spray bottle and cleaning gloves