Of all the things that bring me joy, I have to say that for me, a clean house is right up there at the top. I am naturally organized and I love having “a place for everything and everything in its place.” I love the calm peace I feel when I have a clean environment. However, once we added kids to our home, I quickly realized that kids and a clean house just don’t really go together.

As my kids have grown, I’ve learned that I can choose to stress over having a clean house, or I can just enjoy the moment. To me, having a clean house is not more important than spending time together having fun. Yet, at the same time, having kids doesn’t mean that my home has to look like a tornado zone all the time. (I admit, though- there ARE those times it does!)

I quickly learned that trying to constantly keep the house clean with kids around is simply exhausting, not to mention that it adds stress that takes away from the joy I could be experiencing. Instead, I’ve learned to have fun making a mess together, and then have fun cleaning up together!

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Easier said than done, I know. The end of the day comes it’s time to clean up but it’s also the time of day that meltdowns are more likely to happen. The kids are tired, you’re tired and just want to be done, and the overwhelm can set in – both for them AND for you.

It’s always been important to me to involve my kids in cleaning up. Having them help at clean up time can certainly make it take longer, but for me it is so important that they learn responsibility and taking care of their toys. And really – it can be turned into a time to have fun together if you let it.

I’ve put together some of our favorite ways that we turn clean up time into a joyful time, a way to have fun and spend time together.

And an added bonus – you just. Might. Get to see your floor again… At least until tomorrow morning.

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5 Fun Clean Up Time Games for Families

1. I Spy –

This is a really great game for preschoolers and younger children. Start by calling out some things to pick up. I spy five dinosaurs! I spy 10 things that are red! I spy something that belongs on your feet (shoes or socks). Something that you read. Dolly’s clothes. Lots of Legos. Buzz Lightyear, etc. As you call out things for them to pick up, encourage them to find them and put them away as quickly as they can. For older children, get creative, making it more challenging for them to find things. Try doing things that start with a specific letter or sound, or create riddles for them to solve.

2. The Color Clean Up Game –

Perfect for toddlers or preschoolers who are learning their colors, this fun game is so simple. All you need to do is choose a color and then pick things of that color up as quickly as you can. You can choose your color any way. Let your child pick his favorite, or if you have a game that includes colored cards or a colored die or spinner, choose a card, roll the die or spin the wheel to see what color is up next. You could also simply cut small squares of colored construction paper and let your child close their eyes and choose one to see what color is next. Save these to use again next time!

3. The Dice Roll Game –

This game is great for working together cleaning up the whole house, or can be broken into more specific areas. First, you will need to decide 6 general “areas” that need cleaning. You can do this by room (bathrooms, kitchen, family room, etc.) or you can do this by items (books, clothes, cars, Barbies, etc.) Next, make a numbered list of the areas. Then simply roll to see what job comes first. You can work together to clean that room, then roll to see which room is next, or each person can roll to see what their assignment is.

I can’t tell you the number of whiny “but I always clean the bathroom” arguments this has stopped at our house! Once a number is done, cross it off and roll again. If you don’t have a full six items for the list, put in a freebie or list a dance party or group hug as one of the numbers!

4. Beat the Timer  –

Probably not the most original idea, but when you have a short amount of time, this game works great. Setting a timer and racing to see what you can get done in a specific time is one of the best ways to get clean up done quickly. You can set a timer for a specific room, or for the whole house. Make bets on how long it will take you, then set the timer and get to work. A gentle reminder that there’s “just 5 minutes left” can really get the kids moving.

5. Dance Party –

Who doesn’t love a dance party?! Turn on some favorite tunes and dance while you pick up. Turn it into freeze dance by stopping the music and doing a power clean up before starting to dance again.

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