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Cleaning Games: How To Get Your Lazy Child To Clean Up

Cleaning Games For Lazy Kids (Ages 3-8)

My kid is lazy, I’ll admit it.

She hates cleaning up with ever fiber of her being. We will “fight” for HOURS about picking up one little thing. And after the 467th time of asking her to put something away, I tend to blow up. (Can you blame me?)

Here’s the problem; my child is stubborn and hard headed, hates cleaning AND she is just like me. (I can’t wait for the teenage years, the fun we are going to have!)

Unfortunately, I was not gifted with the “clean” gene, neither was my significant other.

Our house isn’t a wasteland of rotting sewage, but it isn’t Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs clean either.

It’s a little ironic I am not all “clean-your-face-off” because my Grandmother and Mother have the cleanest freaking houses you’ve ever seen.

That’s where I grew up, so you’d think I would have picked it up. Didn’t happen. I was hoping that Jade would be gifted this magic gene, yeah no. It seems to have skipped our mess-machine of a 5-year-old too.

When we have company I am the person running around like a manic throwing stuff in drawers, shoving blankets in the closet and I may or may not still hide things under my bed.

All EXCELLENT examples of how to keep your house clean for a young impressionable child.

The Struggle is REAL & FRUSTRATING


If your kid is anything like mine you’ve spent HOURS begging, pleading, bribing, yelling, taking-away, time-outing and NOTHING phases them.

One day it took Jade, 3 hours to finish cleaning up one table of play-doh. Sound familiar?

At one point, it was easier and less frustrating for me to just clean the crap up. Then one day while I was in the middle of picking up a mound of shopkins, grumbling to myself. I thought fork (My alt to the F word) this! I am not a maid or the servant. I couldn’t pee for 6 weeks after she was born without being in excruciating pain. She could clean up her own crap.

That’s when I sat down and decided I needed a plan and scribbled down a handful of ideas which resulted in our cleaning games.

Mom Tip:

If you have a toddler or young school age child nothing is more motivating than having their own little tools. Consider getting a toy cleaning set to go along with the games so they really feel like they are immolating Mommy.

PSA – they actually have a mini Dyson vaccum for kids that has SUCTION!!! Yes, please!

When you sit down and make your own cleaning games remember this:

Kids LOVE Competition Just As Much As Adults. Stop Yelling. Start Competing!

Cleaning Games

  1. Timer Race: Set your phone timer for 10-20 minutes depending on the size of the mess and encourage your child(ren) to beat the timer.
  2. Mom Race: Race your child to see who can get a chore done faster. Example: You unload/load the dishwasher and have your child(ren) gather all their laundry. Whoever finishes first wins! Or do the timer race with your child and both of you get as much done as possible before the timer goes off.
  3. Musical Clean-a-thon: Race to beat the music. Similar to freeze dance have your child clean as much as they can before the music stops.

Cleaning Games Rewards

I am a firm believer in bribery rewards for children, 8 and under. It makes it more exciting and encourages continued participation.

  1. Invest 97 cents in a plastic gold medal. Keep it in a drawer and whenever your child completes their cleaning game they get to wear it.
  2.  Setup a “treasure box” with different little items from the Dollar Tree works great as a reward system.
  3. Make a cleaning games “score” chart. Every time they win for the day have them put a sticker on it and when they reach “X” amount of stickers they get a special surprise.

I am not going to lie and say that playing cleaning games works all the time. My kid is still lazy, stubborn and a big pain in my… but, 90% of the time we can have a tear free (her end), no fighting cleanup competition and it’s great.

Jade has even started cleaning up her own mess, without me instructing her to.  She looks so proud and happy because she knows I am going to be happy. I make this a HUGE deal, lots of praise and jumping up and down etc.

Maybe there is hope for her after all.. maybe she can find her clean gene.

Is your child stubborn about cleaning up? Do you have a technique that works in your house? I’d love to hear about it, ya know it never hurts to have a plan B!

Need help getting your kid to clean up? Try these fun cleaning games for toddlers to elementary age children. Fun cleaning games, clean up games, how to get kids to pick up their room or toys.



This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Holly fork ! You just described me and my daughter to the T . right down to the cleaning ocd that i wish i had passed down every day . thanks i feel a little less alone .👍❤😁

  2. These sound like fun “games” that I will likely try in the future. I know with my daughter when she was a little younger she loved Disney princesses, so we would role play, and that seemed to work really well. I would pretend that she was Cinderella, and I was the wicked step mother, and I would make her clean up the house. She did it, and excitedly so as long as the role play continued.

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