Making Cleaning Fun(ner)

Hooray for me!

I just finished mopping my kitchen floor - a chore I have done every single night for 2 weeks straight.

I know this is a small feat for the rest of you who keep immaculate houses and don't go to bed at night without a dish undone or a toy untucked.

But let's face it...that's just not me. Housekeeping is not my favorite thing. We sisters grew up with our Mom claiming that a house is to be LIVED in, not shown off. (But, boy, were we ready if "the president ever came to dinner:")

So now, as the housekeeper of my own domain, I find myself bribing myself to do the things the rest of you do so willingly and cheerfully. I have been known to reward myself with movies, books, or ice cream for a job-well done, but most of the time it's all about borrowing from the legendary Mary Poppins,

In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and "*snap* the job's a game!"

I try to trick myself into making the job more motivating and fun to get the job done. So when I'm standing there spinning my wheels not knowing WHERE to start, I grab one of these ideas and buckle down and just get to work.

Cleaning Games For You and Your Kids

1. The Timer Game. Set a timer for 6 minutes. Start in one room and tidy it up like a mad-man for that time. When the timer goes off, go to the next room and work in there for 6 minutes. Carry a basket with you to put the things in that belong in another room, or a couple to assist in sorting (the play room, the kitchen, the laundry, etc.) This saves time from running to the play room 15 times to put away 15 different toys. If you can't get it all done in one room in those 6 minutes, move on anyways, and come back after you've worked in another room or two.

Make it child friendly: Work for 6 minutes, play for 8.

2. 1-2-3. Write down a list of chores to do and number them. Roll a pair of dice, pick a number from a hat, or have a child pick the number at random to select what chore to do next.

3. Gunny Sack. When the kids claim they have finished tidying up a room, come in with your gunny sack. It can be a basket, a pillow case, or one like this that Cheri made (click here for a tutorial).

The Gunny Sack picks up all left-over toys and keeps them for a while. And if you're really into it, there's this really cool tune, too.

"Here comes Gunny Bag!
Yum, Yum, Yummy!
He eats leftover toys
And puts them in his tummy.

So keep your toys
Nice and neat
So Gunny won't have
A thing to eat!

4. The Lottery. Put the rooms to clean or chores to do in small papers in a bowl. Add simple illustrations for the small ones in your home. Add in some "take a break" ideas, too. Then get to work pulling out the tasks one by one. We keep this bowl on top of our fridge to pull down on Saturday mornings to help with extra chores.

5. Cleaning Bingo. Have the chores in a bowl and a bingo-card for each child. As you pick the chore and get it done, the kids mark it off their bingo cards. When there's a winner, reward the whole family with a small break before getting back to work.

6. Four Corners. Lay two brooms over each other in a cross in the middle of a room. This divides the room into 4 sections. Assign each person one section to clean.

7. Pick it FAST. Write down everything that needs to be done in one big list. Every person chooses one job from the list, and once they are done, they come back to choose their next job. The enticement is to get the jobs done quickly so you can still have your top picks and not be stuck with the hardest ones. (Mom was always generous to pick those herself).

8. Musical Chores. Designate a project (dusting, scrubbing the floor, picking up toys) to each child and start the music. Every time the music turns off, the children switch chores.

9. Puppet Dusters. Make sock puppets for dusting and start a contest to see whose puppet gets the dirtiest.

10. Puppet Shiners. You and your child each wear a sock puppet to clean the patio door window. You're on the outside and he/she's on the inside. Make it a game to follow one another's hand movement as you clean the window.

11. Baseboard Race. Start two children next to one another in the same room. The child that gets to the end of the room/house first wins a prize.

12. Dash for Trash. Designate a laundry basket for each child. Start a timer for 30 seconds and see which child can put the most in his/her basket before the timer goes off. Truth be told, this works great in cleaning out the car!

13. Hide and Seek. Hide five spoons in various spots (under cushions, on windowsills, under pillows) and see if your child can find all of them by the time he/she is finished cleaning.

14. The Dirt Detector. Stand in a line straight across, at one end of the room. Hold out your hands and tell the kids you are a dirt detector, and you will beep when you get to something that needs to be picked up. They walk with you by your side as you start from one end of the room to the other, cleaning and beeping as you go.

Or if it's just YOU you need to motivate and figure out WHERE to start:

1. Start at the back corner of the house and like a bull dozer, just move forward cleaning everything as you move.

2. Turn on the tunes and race the music as you work.

3. Start in a room and do as much as you can for 6 minutes and then move on to the next.

4. When you come to something that doesn't belong in that room, place it in the room it belongs, but don't waste time putting it away -- save that for when it's that room's turn to be cleaned. This helps me focus on the task at hand. Otherwise I find myself getting sidetracked in that room, too.

5. Another idea for things that don't belong in the room you're cleaning is to put all the stuff in one box to sort through at the end or a few boxes to sort as you go"boys room", "Toy room", "laundry", "kitchen," etc. that travels with you from room to room.

6. Work by levels: Start by getting the floor clean, picking up every thing off the floor, then sweep/mop/vacuum. Next move your eyes up to the next thing they hit: end tables, perhaps. Clean those. Next put away the things on the couches, then the entertainment center, etc. Start at the bottom and clean to the top of the room. Nothing makes my house feel messier than having to step over things.

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About Kerri

Ahh…see that smile on my face? That’s a genuine smile. I love my family. I love the 4th of July. I love the beach. I love ice-cream. And the day this picture was taken, I was getting the combination of it all. Ahhh…that’s a real smile!
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One Response to Making Cleaning Fun(ner)

  1. Tauna says:

    ha! well mom definitely did the timer, 1-2-3, lottery, and broomstick methods. here’s another thing that works for me (not with the kids). It’s my chance to watch a show. I use the laptop, take it with me and watch while I clean up after dinner, load the dishwasher, fold the laundry, clean up at the end of the day, etc. You can pretty much watch any TV show online. I rewatch conference this way. An added incentive–you know the show is going to end so you can try to get the job done before it does.

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