Better Ways to Clean the House With Your Kids

Young boy operates a cannister vacuum cleaner in the living room

Are you looking for ways to get your children to do household chores? Ideas for making the task a little less boring:

Fruity Scrubbers

Cleaning the bathtub can be a daunting task for children. I discovered a hack that has made bathtub cleaning fun and safe for my little ones. I take a grapefruit and slice it in half. Then I sprinkle a little salt inside the fruit's flesh and, voilà, my young children have their own scrubber to get that dirty ring out of the tub. It's cheap, chemical free and leaves my tub shining — not to mention the smell is wonderful.

—Courtney Roberts

Going Backward

My four children shared a bathroom, but there were constant complaints about someone leaving a wet towel on the floor, toothpaste in the sink or dirty clothes in a heap.

Then my husband had a brilliant idea. "Moonwalk into the hallway," he told our kids, "and look at what you've left behind. Then go back and pick it up, put it away or rinse it out."

Teaching them to walk backward out of the bathroom helped them better see their mess, and it successfully taught our children to leave a room looking clean.

—Kathy Nickerson

Chore Cards

Sometimes my family chooses to spread housecleaning out over a few days, so I write all the tasks for cleaning on individual index cards. Each job is rated. I put a "1" on jobs like tidying the living room, a "2" on tasks like doing dishes and a "3" on more involved jobs like mopping or vacuuming the floor.

Each number goes in a different pile. I also add some fun cards to each pile, such as "Sorry, draw again." Each morning, everyone draws one card from each pile and must complete the task by the end of the day. This continues each day until all the cards are used.

—Julie Dearyan

Trash and Treasure

My son disliked emptying the trash cans in our house. And no matter how often he did the job, he invariably missed a few bins. So I turned his weekly chore into a treasure hunt.

On a square of brown craft paper, I sketched a simple plan of our house, marking the location of each trash can with a red X. When trash day arrived, I challenged him to find all the X's on the map and collect the loot. Not only did he check every room, but he also finished in record time. From then on, once a week he'd unroll his map and embark on his trash-collecting adventure until he learned the job by heart.

—Joanne Roberts

Spills and Toddlers

When my daughter was learning how to drink out of a cup, there were many spills. After one spill (which clearly wasn't accidental), I simply said, "You spilled; wipe it up."

I showed her where we kept the dishrags and assisted her in wiping all the water off the floor. For every spill that happened after that, I followed the same steps. If I spilled, I also verbalized, "I spilled. I'd better wipe it up." The repetition was important.

One day, we had friends over, and someone spilled a drink. My 18-month-old child babbled a word that sounded like "spilled." She toddled over to the cabinet, picked up a rag and wiped up the spill without being told.

—Autumn Shaffer

Good Clean Fun

One of my children's jobs is wiping down the cabinets and drawers in the kitchen. Food spills and dust often cover the white surfaces, but I don't always have time to scrub the cabinets. So I give each of my daughters a dishcloth and a small spray bottle filled with water, a little vinegar and a few drops of an essential oil. They spray and wipe to their hearts' content. It may not come out perfect, but it definitely works, and they have fun in the process.

—Jenny Nanninga

Little Moppers

I wanted to teach my little ones to mop up spills while they still liked imitating my actions. So I had them use a dry mop to practice painting imaginary objects on the floor. After they got the hang of handling a mop, I secretly made small water spills in different areas of the room so they could put their new skill to practice. They did this well, had fun and were soon mopping up real spills.

—Allison Struber

Dusting for Money

Since dusting is my least favorite chore, teaching my young daughters to dust proved challenging. I didn't want to pass along my dislike of the job, so I tried to find a way to make it fun. By hiding coins for them to find in not-too-obvious places, I turned the chore into a game. The girls got to keep the coins they found after they completed dusting their assigned areas. "It's like an Easter egg hunt!" they shouted. They soon began to look forward to Dusting Day.

—Carol Boley

The Job Jar

Cleaning the house can be a complicated chore, so I came up with a system to help simplify the process for my kids. On cleaning day, I took a pint-sized Mason jar and filled it with craft sticks labeled with age-appropriate jobs that take about five minutes to accomplish. Whenever they finished a job, my children drew a new stick with a new task.

—Cara Grandle

Musical Chores

One of the first chores my son was responsible for was vacuuming the living room. I asked him to select an upbeat song that he liked. He chose "Until the Whole World Hears" by Casting Crowns, which runs for nearly five minutes.

During vacuuming time, I played this song and told my son that he needed to vacuum the living room until the song stopped. This was a great way to ensure that he did a thorough job.

We did this with each of our boys, assigning them different rooms. Today vacuuming is still the most requested chore in our home.

—Kim Van Dunk

"Fruity Scrubbers," "Going Backward," "Chore Cards" and "Trash and Treasure" first appeared in the June/July 2019 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. "Spills and Toddlers," "Good Clean Fun" and "Little Moppers" first appeared in the April/May 2019 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. "Dusting for Money," "The Job Jar" and "Musical Chores" first appeared in the April/May 2018 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. The compiled article "Chores for Children: Cleaning the House" first appeared on (2018). If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family's marriage and parenting magazine. Get this publication delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.

"Fruity Scrubbers" © 2019 by Courtney Roberts. "Going Backward" © 2019 by Kathy Nickerson. "Chore Cards" © 2019 by Julie Dearyan. "Trash and Treasure" © 2019 by Joanne Roberts. "Spills and Toddlers" © 2019 by Autumn Shaffer. "Good Clean Fun" © 2019 by Jenny Nanninga. "Little Moppers" © 2019 by Allison Struber. "Dusting for Money" © 2018 by Carol Boley. "The Job Jar" © 2018 by Cara Grandle. "Musical Chores" © 2018 by Kim Van Dunk. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Next in this Series: Show Children How to Do Laundry

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