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:

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

"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.

"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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