Make Cleaning Fun for Little Ones

Play dishes, dollies, books, dirty socks, you name it —if a kid owns it, it’s bound to hit the floor in chaos sooner or later. How can you best enlist your kids in the cleanup?

Cleaning up teaches kids life skills and a sense of responsibility as they become active participants in the everyday workings of the household. Here are some pick-up tricks to make cleaning easier and a little more fun at your house.

Divide and Conquer

A room full of toys can look daunting to a little person, especially when they are strewn about the floor. Help your child divide the task into doable parts, focusing one-at-a-time on types of toy, like blocks, that need to be put away.

After your child has collected and put away the blocks, help him to zero in on the next thing, such as books. This method provides practice for sorting and identification skills.


Make it easier for your kids to help with daily chores. Our son, Judah, 2, can help empty the dishwasher because all our plastic cups, bowls and plates are in the lower shelf, easily within his reach.

My husband recently built and installed a low peg rack for the kids’ coats. Before he’d even completed the project, one of the children had already hung up a coat.

Store each kind of toy in separate clear plastic boxes with lids. The boxes stack nicely and are easily identifiable. Limiting your children to playing with one box at a time avoids messes.

Tool Time

Provide your little helpers with tools that enable them to truly help you. A dishpan is great for collecting messy dishes after dinner.

Teach your child to wipe the table and to use a dustpan to collect the crumbs as they fall off the edge.If the budget allows, purchase a rechargeable, cordless sweeper. You push it like a vacuum, but its round brush actually sweeps dirt, dust and crumbs into an inner compartment. Our kids often fight over who gets to use it because it’s fun to use.

Make It a Game

Our boys like freeze cleaning. I put on some loud, happy music and the kids begin to clean. Randomly I stop the music and they have to freeze in position, often hilariously (and often choreographed).

Our 4-year-old loves to play the cleaning version of I Spy. Mama says, “I spy three books” and he searches the room for the books that are out of place and puts them away. Recently when I had “spied” everything there was to pick up in the living room, he requested to go clean another room!

Don’t worry. You won’t always be tripping on blocks and stuffed animals. Make-up, car keys and greasy auto parts are just around the corner.

Jessica Fisher is a freelance writer and mom of six children.

Categories: Toddlers, Your Home