Let’s face it: the words ‘fun’ and ‘cleaning’ are rarely seen together. Adding kids to the mix may only make you wonder if it’s easier to take care of your cleaning checklist by yourself.

Keep in mind, however, that involving children in household chores is a good thing.

Tackling chores is an important (and unavoidable) part of maturing and gaining independence, and it’s never too early for children to learn to take care of their belongings—and that includes the family home.

Take some inspiration from teachers all over the world who know a useful secret: if you can turn learning (or household chores, in this case) into a game, the whiney protests largely come to an end. Instead, kids beg to play, compete, and succeed.

The chores may not be done especially quickly, but your family will benefit from time spent together—and you’ll get a clean house (eventually) out of the deal. Keep things fun and low stress, and remember: a seasonal visit from a professional house cleaner is always an option.

But first, try these three fun cleaning games with your family this spring.

1. Tape Race

hand holding a rag cleaning baseboardsWe all know that cleaning the baseboards is one of the last cleaning tasks to get done. While some of us insist that they must be cleaned to a sparkling shine every other month, there are others who are loath to admit that they’re lucky to get to their baseboards once a year.

An afternoon of tape race can change the baseboard dynamic.

For this game, make sure you have plenty of painter’s tape or masking tape on hand. Start your preparations while your children are not around. Run a line of tape just above each baseboard, making a break in the tape every two to three feet. When you are ready, hand each child a rag and a bowl or spray bottle containing a 50/50 mixture of warm water and vinegar.

The Rules:

  • Start on the word “Go.”
  • Clean only to the end of the length of tape.
  • Call over the judge (Mom or Dad), who will wipe the baseboard with a towel and evaluate for cleanliness.
  • If the judge sees too much dirt, that segment may need another pass.
  • When the judge pronounces the section clean, the child peels off the first segment of tape and moves on to another section of baseboard. 

Time the race to add an extra level of competition, and be sure to award small prizes to keep things fun.

2. Bingo

little boy washing dishes in kitchen sinkAnother fun cleaning game that kids are sure to enjoy is Bingo.

There will be quite a few chores to complete before the card is full, so heighten the incentive with a big payoff. Make sure you have an activity, an outing, or a coveted toy ready for when someone finally shouts “BINGO!”

Not only will this game help you get the forgotten crevices of your couch cleaned out, but your kids may actually ask to clean out the fridge and fold the laundry. Create a few different versions of cleaning Bingo cards to keep in a rotation.

3. Treasure Hunt

sticky notes listing choresThere is something about a treasure hunt that seems to instantly spark the imagination of children and adults alike. Why not use this in your favor? Turn your cleaning checklist into a treasure hunt.

The easiest way to set up a treasure hunt is to start from the end. Where should you hide the grand prize? Remember, each hint in this hunt should be a place that your children will be cleaning.

After you have decided where to hide the grand prize, write out five to ten more places that need to be cleaned. It is always best to alternate a more challenging or involved chore with two simple chores; this way, the kids won’t feel overwhelmed. Write the name of each chore on a separate slip of paper.

Now that you have your list, leave a note in the first location that says, “You’ve walked right into our scavenger hunt! Each time you complete a task, tell Mom or Dad. They will give you the next clue!”

When the child has completed all of the chores in the scavenger hunt, hand them the last slip of paper. This final clue should lead them to the place where the prize or outing description is hidden.

Involving your kids in household chores may mean that you have to slow down your normal cleaning schedule a bit, but the family interaction and learning opportunities are well worth the change in pace. By making spring cleaning fun and memorable, you may find that everyone in your household looks forward to it each year.