It’s not easy to keep a clean house even when the kids are out for a big chunk of the day. This becomes exponentially harder in quarantine. This meme captures it both accurately and beautifully:

“Cleaning the house with kids is like brushing your teeth while eating oreos.”

But let’s make this work for you. As they used to commonly say, “cleanliness is next to godliness” and having a clean home is just good for the soul. Below are a few tips to get the kids involved and responsible for cleaning up:

Have a cleaning song

Train your kids to associate cleaning with a specific song. We like to use the Mission Impossible theme song or the William Tell Overture, something upbeat and memorable. Flight of the Bumblebee might work as well. I have a Cleaning playlist on Youtube to mix it up sometimes and I tell the kids to finish cleaning before the playlist or song ends. It’s super motivating and a fun way to do it. My kids are so used to it now that they start cleaning as if a Pavlovian response!

Use a catchall basket

We have a big basket where we can toss in all the toys that escaped into our living, dining and bedrooms. When we start cleaning, we dump everything in and then go off to redistribute everything to its proper place.

Have a place for everything

I have a life goal to do this one day: To make each toy/object have a “home” then take pictures of the room in its ideal state. This way, clean up happens exactly the way you want it to!! But I’ve never successfully done this so someone else is going to have to tell me if it works with all the different age groups.

Have a bad cop

Sometimes I get tired of always being the one telling the kids to clean up. It’s nice to sometimes have dad come in and threaten to “clean up” (a.k.a. throw out) the toys.

Make it a game

Sometimes we will give the kids a basket each and let them see who can fill it up with the most toys. The winner gets to choose something reasonable!

Switch it up

Try combining some of the above strategies. You don’t have to be tied to one strategy. Try new things. If they work, share them with us!


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