Clean Up Games For Kids

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Okay, so one thing I have learned from doing this blog is that I am NOT the only one who struggles with a messy house! I have gotten so many comments, emails, and messages from you all on the topic that I thought it was time to share some of the clean up games I play with my kids to get them (and me) in cleaning mode! Remember, “Make it fun and it will get done.”

1. Clean Up Tag

This is my far my kids favorite to play! It’s also probably one of the least productive, but hey, sometimes the giggles are worth it.

So for this game, “it” has to hurry and put one item away before hurrying to tag the next person. Of course, when that person gets tagged and becomes “it” they then get to put something away and the cycle continues.

In all honesty, they generally don’t get that much put away, but do you know what’s great about this game? They aren’t making more messes, they’re playing together nicely, and while they’re running around giggling putting away one thing, I can normally put away five!

2. Freeze Clean

I’m sure you’ve played freeze before right? You know, that game where someone plays music and you dance around like crazy. Then when the music stops you have to stop in whatever weird position you’re in? This works great as a cleaning game! I turn on some fun, up beat music and give everyone some kind of a task (this can be anything from putting away toys, to folding clothes, to dusting or vacuuming).

We get very animated as we dance around doing our chores making silly faces and super exaggerated movements. When I stop the music everyone has to freeze exactly as they are, which always gives everyone a good laugh before we continue.

3. Dirty Rag

So I can’t take the credit for this one. This idea was inspired by a former manager at Kohl’s Department Store years ago when I worked as an employee. Yep, that’s right. My store manager expected us, grown adults, to play silly cleaning games. But guess what? It motivated me as an adult and it motivates my kids now!

So how does it work? Simple. Give everyone a white rag, wash cloth, or even magic eraser. Make sure they’re wet, set a timer, and decide one room that needs to be dusted, or one set of baseboards that need to be cleaned. When the timer beeps, the child with the dirtiest rag wins!

4. Choose a Side, Any Side

Simple, yet very effective, this game involves dividing a room into two sides. I normally do this with a broom or mop. Each child picks a number and whoever is closest to the number I have in my head gets to pick which side of the room they will clean. The first one with a clean side is the winner!

5. Treasure Hunting!

This one isn’t exactly a clean up game, but I’m going to include it because of the level of excitement my kids show when I exclaim, “It’s time for a treasure hunt!” This means it is time to move the furniture and find what treasures are underneath it! Of course, there’s always a fair share of cheerios, cracker crumbs, and dirty socks, but it’s almost guaranteed that there will be some beloved toys under there too.

So we get a box of some kind or another and throw all of the treasure that we find into it. The caveat? No one gets the treasure until everything else is picked up! Then we go through it to see what kind of amazing things we’ve found.

6. Quicker Picker-Upper

If one room has gotten out of control, I will assign each child a piece of furniture (chair, couch, loveseat) and set a timer. Whoever picks up the largest amount of items and puts it on their spot wins! Then, everyone rotates so they put away everything in someone else’s pile and the first one done wins that game!

7. B-I-N-G-O

This is another cleaning game I can’t take credit for. It was inspired by a group of ladies who started a Facebook group. The way it works is this: Each player has a card (generally I just use a scrap piece of paper) with three rows and three columns. The first column is three minute tasks. The second column is five minute tasks, and the third column is ten minute tasks. Each box is numbered.

I have smaller papers with numbers 1-9 written on them inside of a container folded up. Someone draws a number and everyone must rush to accomplish their assigned task before the timer goes off. Even if the job isn’t finished, if they work hard for the duration of the time block, they get to mark off their BINGO spot. At the end of the game, everyone with a full card gets a prize!

7. The Ultimate Challenge

I truly saved the best, most productive, most requested game for last. That’s because it’s rules are WAY more difficult to explain as the game is never the same twice.

Basically, the concept is this: The Ultimate Challenge is an hour long group of mini-games with an amazing prize. I include several of the above games in the challenge and sometimes we do the same games multiple times in different rooms depending on what needs done the most. After each mini-game, we mark down the score. If anyone complains during the game, they lose one point.

Sometimes they don’t even have the same task. For example, I may have someone clear the table after dinner while someone else picks up the toys in the living room.

Generally at the end of the game, an awesome prize is given to the winner, but anyone else who worked hard and finished gets a consolation prize as well!

So What Are The Prizes?

I very rarely tell my kids ahead of time what the prizes will be (except for the ultimate challenge as that one is way more challenging than the others) and I make sure to change them up on a regular basis. Here is an idea of what my kids have won in the past:

  • A super squeezy bear hug
  • A tickle fight with just me and them.
  • A piece of candy
  • An extra snack
  • Screen time
  • Free time outside
  • They choose the bedtime story
  • Getting to help wash dishes (yes, I’m serious… they beg to help me do dishes)
  • 10 minutes of play alone with Mommy

Prizes don’t have to be amazingly wonderful bribes. Kids like competition. They like to prove themselves and they like just knowing that they did an awesome job!

Do you play any kind of clean up games at your house? Let me know in the comments below!

Teaching kids to clean isn't easy. These games will definitely help get them going in the right direction!


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