The word cleaning may in fact cause loud sighs and complaints among the children in your house, but it doesn’t need to. Almost anything can be made fun with a little healthy competition with Dad. If you struggle to get your children to do some basic cleaning and tidying, turn it into a competition. What child doesn’t like to compete with Dad? I remember as a kid that the ultimate goal among us kids was to beat Dad. Dad was bigger, stronger and faster, but that didn’t stop me and my brother from trying to beat him at everything. We raced him and tried to shoot more baskets and beat him at board games. You name it we wanted to beat Dad. So, why not use that to get some real productive cleaning done? Turn chores and cleaning into a competition with dad and make a game of it.
Break a whistle, a stopwatch, or maybe just the kitchen timer and start competing for cleanliness. You and your children can race to clean your own rooms and whoever is fastest wins. Or you can help them and see which of you can put away the most legos, books, or toys in the allotted amount of time. Create races with them. See how many clothes you can each fold in a minute. You can give them time challenges to see if they can clean their closet in ten minutes. Or divide the room into sections and challenges and clean it that way. You will want to think of some rules first. Points will be added to their score for lost objects that they find while cleaning, points will be taken away for anything broken in the cleaning process. Things shoved under the bed and not put away can also cause you to lose points. You can be the judge and decide if the quality of cleaning is up to your standards, or you can make your partner be the judge.
If competing in cleaning events is not your thing you can simply set yourself up as the judge. Supervising may be your thing. Grab a clipboard and don your best scowl as you inspect the cleaning jobs of your children. For extra fun and drama you can do exaggerated dust tests with your finger on open surfaces. Make marks on a chart on your clipboard and then announce winners. You can think of a reward system for your children. Chocolate, or exemption from some chore, could work as good cleaning incentive. You could have this be a one time event or try to get them to improve times for cleaning every few weeks or so. You could give them gold stars on a chart that tracks their progress. Of course, it could be enough for your kids to know that they beat you in a competition. It is up to you how you reward your cleaners.
These cleaning games can be instated for one afternoon to tackle a particularly messy room, or they can be expanded to all the chores you need your child to do. You can set a challenge to see if you can clean the bathroom in the time it takes them to clean their room. You and your child can each take a mirror and see who cleans it first. Time is obviously important, but penalties can be incurred for streaks and poor cleaning jobs. Taking out the garbage won’t be so irritating if you are trying to win a race with your child. Remember you don’t have to let them win. Real races are always more fun.
Details and presentation are sometimes what really makes things fun. Aside from the clipboard and the stopwatch you might want to have a baseball hat to look like a coach or maybe make a badge to label yourself as a judge. Take the time to come up with names for your cleaning events. Taking out the trash can be the bin sprint and mopping the kitchen can be a mopping marathon. If you want a little less racing around and timed events you may want to add some music here. You can make mopping a dance competition. You can have winners for the most enthusiastic dance, the best move, and the worst move. Just put on some of your favourite songs and dance away the dirt. Your creativity is really the only thing you are limited by. If your house is in desperate need of a deep cleaning you can create a triathlon to take care of the worst areas. Pick three of the messiest rooms and give one section to each of your children and maybe one section to yourself. Then you can race to clean your individual sections. You can shout out times and note progress like a commentator for extra fun.
If you want to you can add a pentathlon of random cleaning tasks. You should start by dividing the house into an equal number of rooms for each competitor. Then you should explain the rules for this event. You will need to finish task in order before you move onto the next task. The first task can be to clean all the doorknobs in the rooms assigned. The second can be windowsills that have collected dirt. The third task can be to clean the often ignored ledges of your sash windows before moving on, or door jambs, if you don’t have sash windows. The fourth task can either be lampshades or general dusting of flat surfaces and shelves. Lastly have the children finish with whatever your house has the most of, whether it is books or baseboards, and have them dust them all in their assigned rooms. The competitor who finishes all these tasks first wins.
Don’t forget that you are the parent and the judge. So, you can send your children back to do cleaning more thoroughly if you need to. You will need to make sure that you do activities that are age appropriate and safe for your children. You can pick and choose the events that you want and need to clean your house with the most amount of fun. Just remember that you can have fun cleaning with a little bit of creativity and competition.
This is a guest post written by Melinda Wilson on behalf of her client, The Sash Window Workshop, a manufacturer of high quality sash windows.