Spring Cleaning with Kids: Getting Them Involved and Making It Fun!


Spring in Arizona brings some of our best weather, stunning wildflowers, and the perfect opportunity to clean inside and outside our homes before it gets too hot.

Getting your kids motivated to be involved in the process can sometimes be a struggle, but no matter what ages they are, there are some easy ways to encourage their participation. For younger kids, setting a time limit of about 15 to 20 minutes for any cleaning session is important. Older kids can easily handle longer increments of time, especially if they’re broken up over a day or several days.

Here are some tips to get your family’s Team Clean started.

Let your kids choose the music and pump up the volume!

This helps the time pass more quickly and keeps everyone in a better mood. Avoid turning on the TV as it can be too distracting. Dancing from place to place should definitely be encouraged, or letting each child pick their favorite song for “sock skating” to dust the floors.

Make it a race.

Younger kids in particular like the chance to “win” at a chore, so challenge your kids to see who can match up the most socks in three minutes, put away toys or throw old papers into the recycling the fastest, or pull up the most backyard weeds. Having small prizes or rewards can certainly help. And yes, I am not above some small bribes to get big cleaning tasks accomplished.

Come up with sorting games to help declutter.

Do you have a toy box, book bin, or closet full of clothes that hasn’t been cleaned out in ages? Cleaning with kids is a great opportunity to tackle these jobs. Grab some index cards and write or draw categories that will motivate kids to get rid of older items they longer use or enjoy. For instance, use color categories for clothing or theme categories for books: “Today, let’s donate five items of clothing of each of these colors – blue, green, red, and yellow.” Or “Find five books about animals and five about science to give to our younger neighbors.”

Have an expiration date treasure hunt.

This is one of my daughter’s favorite kitchen cleaning activities. Assign older kids to different stations, like the refrigerator, a pantry, or several cupboards and see who can find the oldest expired item. Have kids sort things you are getting rid of into trash, compost, and recycle piles. Alphabetizing the spice jars is another activity that can be done once the older jars have been discarded.

Turn window cleaning into a “mirroring” activity.

Put a child on each side of a first-floor window, armed with a rag or paper towel that’s been moistened with a non-toxic, glass cleaning solution. Have them take turns being the cleaning leader, while the other must follow their motions to clean off the entire window.

Transition a garage clean out into a garage sale.

Getting a good garage clean out accomplished before the intense heat of the Arizona summer is a smart move. Tell your kids they can have a percentage of the earnings from a family garage sale if they help sort and ready items for sale. If you decide to donate, they can help clean and bag items, and fill out donation forms. Then you can offer a reward of a takeout meal and a picnic at a place of their choosing.

Spring cleaning with kids doesn’t have to be a dreaded chore. Getting your kids more involved is a wonderful chance to give them a healthy sense of accomplishment and responsibility, while having some fun at the same time.

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Marybeth Bock is a native San Franciscan, who spent 13 years living and working in two European countries and four U.S. states as an Army spouse. (Faves: Germany and Hawaii). She’s been enduring the heat of Arizona for 14 years now with her husband, two adult-ish kids, and one crazy coonhound. An alumna of UCLA (Go, Bruins!), she has a Master’s in Public Health and loves to research and write about all health topics, particularly the mental and physical health issues of adolescents and women. Her writing can often be found on the Grown and Flown and Blunt Moms websites. As a new empty-nester, she is thoroughly enjoying the role of “College Mom”, and is finding more time for crafting, hiking, Happy Hour and travel. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.