When I clean the house, the kids are always a factor. Either they’re underfoot, pulling out toys I just stashed or asking me what’s for lunch. A few years ago I nearly lost my cool when one of my youngsters pulled out the vacuum canister, dumping dust and debris all over the room. Instead of putting me over the edge, the mess produced a light-bulb moment. Could I somehow involve cleaning games for kids to get them excited about helping?
The benefits of spring-cleaning for kids extend beyond them as individuals. Their help benefits the whole family. All you need is a little creativity and a dose of patience.
Here are my family’s four favorite ways to make spring-cleaning fun for everyone.
Would You Rather
The one thing my family tends to collect the most is finished arts and craft projects. No one here throws them away because they represent a fun experience. But boy, do they pile up quickly.
To preserve the original artwork, first take a picture of it. Then, check out the materials used and ask your kids, “Would you rather throw this away or deconstruct it to reuse the materials for another craft?” Often, kids see the pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and colorful pom-poms, and their imaginations light up. Take a look at the other crafts to see which of those materials you could use in your new project. The activity fosters creative thinking, and kids get a fun lesson in reusing and upcycling materials (without the lecture).
The Game of Life
One of the funniest cleaning games for my kids is a Johnson family original we call “The Game of Life.” When spring season arrives, families like ours stash winter clothing and pull warm-weather items out of storage. The chore can be a drag, unless you inject a little silliness.
Start the game by sorting items that can be worn again next year. If it’s got an inch or two of wiggle room for your child’s growth, launder and store it. Next, turn to the pile of things your kid has outgrown. Have your child pick up a garment, and based on her observations, determine how much “life” is left in it. A year of more play? Two years? There are no wrong answers here. The goal is for kids to learn to look at clothing through the lens of re-usability.
If your child decides the item has some life left in it, declare the garment in need of “life support,” and let your child perform five CPR reps to see if it can be “revived.” Yes, it’s silly, but your kids will love every minute of the drama. Best of all, they love to swoop in and save the day, ensuring their clothes “live” to see another season.
This game can get even sillier than the last one, but it gets a lot of laughs, and to me, that’s what matters. After you’ve decided what clothes to donate, let your kids put on a fashion show to exhibit the items one last time. Dim the lights, roll out a few towels to act as a runway, and crank the music while your kids strut their stuff.
If you want to boost the wacky factor, have your kids reinvent the clothes, using pants as scarves and old, mismatched gloves as shoes, for example. My kids love to squeeze into each other’s old clothes for the fashion show, which gets the whole family cracking up. You can give awards for most creative, silliest, wildest, and ugliest ensembles.
Often, kids keep toys long after they’re done with them. My oldest child has trouble donating playthings, even if she hasn’t touched them in a year!
Together, take stock of the toys your kid has today, and identify items she hasn’t played with in a while. Next, grab some paper and crayons, and draw a picture of that toy’s next family. If possible, you can feature the child who will own the item next, whether it’s a family friend or a stranger. What does that kid do differently with the toy? Visualizing another child’s benefit can have a soothing effect on a child’s ability to say “goodbye” when it’s time to let a toy go.
With spring-cleaning for kids, a little enthusiasm and inventive creativity can go a long way. Yes, it takes some effort to involve your younger family members. But the payoff is a fun bonding experience, a few laughs, and a job well done.
Image source: Bethany Johnson | Flickr
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.