How to Turn Housecleaning into a Game: Tips to Get Your Toddler Excited About Cleaning

It’s never too early to start training a child to do chores! Toddlerhood is a great time to get your little one to start helping you with cleaning around the house. Toddlers have naturally helpful spirits and can (usually) easily be persuaded to pitch in with small, easy tasks. If they haven’t shown interest in chores yet, here are some tips for how to get your toddler excited about cleaning.

Create a Chore Chart for Them

Children are incredibly visual, so giving them a chore chart can be helpful and fun. Make your child a chore chart by printing or drawing up a short list of age-appropriate chores with checkboxes. Use pictures instead of words to represent the tasks, like a few toys to represent cleaning their room or a kitty face to represent feeding the family pet. Put the chart in a sheet protector and hang it securely on the refrigerator with a dry-erase marker. This way, your child can check off the tasks throughout the day as they complete them.

Skip the Official “Chore Time”

Toddlers love routine and being helpful, but it’s important for them to have the freedom to play too. When you ask your toddler to stop playing to do a chore, it puts unnecessary pressure on them and doesn’t allow them to show initiative or help during times they have the energy to do so. It can also create a negative association with chores. Try a more loose approach instead and encourage your toddler to help around the house as they have the energy and interest to do so. Additionally, avoid asking for their help toward the end of the day when they are tired and running low on steam.

Invite Your Child to Work Alongside You

If you want your child to see chores as a blessing instead of a burden, you could try having them work alongside you. Basically, as you complete daily household tasks, invite them to join you in your work. For example, as you put away dishes from the dishwasher, ask them to put their own bowls and plates away. When you go to fold clothes, give them something easy like the washcloths to do. It’s okay if they don’t do the task perfectly and there is no need to harp on their mistakes or make them “fix” shoddy work. Just model a good work ethic for them and have them practice being a help around the house. They’ll learn in time!

Make a Game of It

Chores are always more fun when they don’t feel like work. So turn tasks into a game! Say something like, “Let’s race to see who can pick up the most blocks! On your mark, get set, GO!” Or “Let’s capture all the dirt on the floor with this broom and dustpan!” The more fun it looks and the better your attitude toward chores, the more your child will want to join in!

Transform cleaning into an adventurous treasure hunt. Hide small objects or toys that need to be put away throughout the room. Create a checklist or a map with pictures of the hidden items and guide your toddler on a quest to find and return each item to its proper place. Encourage them with clues and rewards as they successfully complete the task.

Praise Unprompted Helpfulness

Another way to motivate your toddler to help with chores around the house is to praise them whenever they show initiative. If your toddler, for example, starts to pick up their toys and put them back in the bin, get excited and say, “Oh, thank you so much for helping!” or “What a good helper you are!” Praising a cheerful spirit encourages them and makes them want to help around the house.

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