Fun Ways to Encourage Kids to Clean Up

Our readers share their best tips for getting help picking up at home.

Allow One Toy at a Time

Dustpan and brush illo Illustration by Charlotte Trounce

The rule in our house is that each child can have one set of toys out at a time; before he can go on to another, he has to clean up the first set. If the kids aren't in the mood to clean up, they don't have to--they just have to keep playing with the same toy. With this approach, we've been able to head off a big mess in the kids' rooms and the constant "clean up your room" lecture.

Nikki Gerlach
McHenry, IL

    Take a TV Time-Out

    "We'd race to pick up ten things at the start of a TV commercial break. The house was cleaner--and we had fun running around before the show came back!"

    Inge Burbank
    Pueblo, CO

      Create Chore Checklists

      To avoid always having to supervise my kids when they help clean the house, I made laminated job cards. Each card has the name of a place or room, such as "kitchen floor" or "kid's bedroom," as well as a list of what needs to be done there. Each child chooses three cards from the stack and crosses out each completed item on the list with a washable marker. With this system, I don't have to go back and do what my kids were supposed to do.

      Sally Johnson
      Las Vegas, NV

        Add an Element of Surprise

        When it's time for chores, I write jobs on small pieces of paper and an equal number of fun activities: read a short book, do five jumping jacks, dance to a song. I fold the papers in half and put them in a hat. My two kids take turns pulling pieces, and together we do whatever is chosen. We have a better time by mixing things up.

        Mary Jo Murphy
        Pittsfield, MA

          Make It Fun and Games

          Our house gets messy with my kids, ages 4 and 5, playing all day, so before bed, we play Cleanup Hide-and-seek. The seeker picks a room to count in while the others hide, then tidies up that room while counting. Soon our house looks clean again, and the whole family has had fun together.

          Lisa Hepfer
          Tacoma, WA

          Originally published in the November 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine.