3 Steps to Having Fun as a Family While Cleaning the House

My family helps clean the house every week. 

How did we do it?

A big part is having the kids participate in weekly cleaning since they were little. They don’t know any different, it’s a habit, this is simply what we do.

If you’re starting out with a weekly routine and have never had one before, but want your family to participate, here are three things that have helped make our weekly cleaning more enjoyable:

Gamify it

We can make things fun by making it a game. 

Race against each other – pick a room, see who can finish first

Race against the timer – Set the timer for 5 or 10 minutes, can you complete the task in that time?

Have an end time – for our family, the number of people working the space/tasks we have, we know we can get it all done in 90 minutes. If we race against the timer, we often get it done even faster. Regardless, if we’re all working hard we can know our finish time is 10:30 AM and if we can stop then. Maybe we won’t get the entire list done – but it’s ok, if we spend 90 minutes a week cleaning, it will all get done in a month’s time.

Dance – Choose a dancy party playlist or each person that finishes a task gets to pick the next song

Sing – Pick songs you know the words to and belt it out. Or narrate what you’re doing opera style. “Mopping the floor, I’m mopping the floor!”

Podcasts, or audiobooks – we use a speaker placed in the dining room (the most central part of our house) so everyone can hear. Listening to a good story can help time fly by, we can use our hands while our minds are whisked away by a story. 

Record the cleaning in timelapse – Set up your smartphone with timelapse recording, and place it in an area where you can see most of the room. When you’re done cleaning, watch the whole family speed clean the house in only a few minutes. (It’s even more fun to watch if everyone dances while they clean!)

Reward – Plan out what you will do after the tasks are complete. (Order pizza, trip to the park, play a game of Monopoly or Uno, afternoon movies, bake cookies together, etc.)

Gamify apps – productivity and to-do apps like Forest, Flora, and Habitica help focus on things for certain periods of time. You can set up lists and grow trees or earn coins to trade in for fun rewards. You can also set up lists to work with family and friends to accomplish something. 

Treats – Have a bowl of jelly beans, chocolate, or trail mix and eat one piece between each task (this works for us because we don’t generally eat snacks, so even having a bowl of cashews or spicy chips is a big deal in our house.)

Name it something fun – call it something different than “cleaning house” or “chores.” I call it a “weekly reset.” Because I feel like we’re hitting a “reset” button every Saturday. Flylady calls it a “home blessing hour.” You can even name it something silly like “operation elephant” each task is a bite!

Stealth mode – can you clean the house like a ninja? Test to see if you can silently get it all done together.

In our family, we limit video game time to only Saturdays, after we clean the house (and they clean their rooms) they get to play games.

They earn extra time during the week by reading or doing chores if I have stuff that needs to be done. I’ve also paid them in “game time” or $20 cash if they want to do ALL the weekly reset tasks by themselves.

Clear goals 

We use a printout from the Home Reset Checklists. This helps mostly because people (not just kids) do much better if they know exactly what steps they need to take. 

Rather than saying “Ok son, you clean the kitchen.” They have it laid out before them exactly what things need to be done in order to get the kitchen clean:

  • Dishes washed
  • Counters tidied & wiped
  • Stove wiped
  • Sink scrubbed
  • Windows cleaned
  • Floor swept & mopped
  • Front of fridge wiped

We’ve done it in various ways: 

  • one person per room, 
  • or pick one thing on the list, do it, and then come back for another task.

Make it a routine

Talk to your family so they know the expectation – this is what we’re doing now. Every Saturday (or whatever other day you choose) we’re going to clean the house. Then we’ll reward ourselves and do something fun.

Taking care of our homes can be just as routine as taking care of our bodies – we shower, brush our teeth, wear deodorant because that’s what we need to do to take care of ourselves. Cleaning our home is the same – it needs to be done for physical and mental health reasons, aside from just being a more enjoyable place to live.

We’re used to getting dressed in the morning and going to school or work because it’s part of life. Cleaning is something that we can just do because it’s part of life. It’s doesn’t have to be dreaded and we don’t have to be perfect with it. A 2-minute shower is better than no shower – just like doing one load of dishes is better than not doing any dishes at all.

The point is not to have it immaculate, but rather to do the basic things that will make our everyday life better.

And when we do it weekly – it’s easier to keep it clean. 

Years ago I only cleaned the tub when it had so much soap scum I would have been embarrassed for people to see it. And it would take a couple of hours of scrubbing to get it clean – which in turn meant I wouldn’t want to clean it again for at least 6 months, because who wants to spend 2 back-breaking hours cleaning the tub?!

But if you do a quick clean every week, it takes less than 5 minutes and the tub is ALWAYS clean. 

The more we do it, the more it will simply feel like part of life. 

And yes, having it set as something “our family does every Saturday morning” makes it more fun. It becomes part of our identity, tradition, and way of life.

Think way back before all these modern conveniences… people had to start a fire in the morning so the house would warm up. People had to make their own bread if they wanted bread to eat. People had to take care of animals if they wanted eggs or milk – or they had to do something equally time-consuming and barter with people who did.

There was no question on how much work life was- it was just life – we do these things because they need to be done.

And we can get back to that outlook with our house maintenance. It’s not a horrible task that was are martyrs as we do it – it’s just part of life. It needs to be done, so let’s make the best of it.

I view cleaning the house as self-care. Self-care is simply being kind to the future you. If we get into the habit of cleaning our house, it will make our future life much more pleasant.

If you want to see more gifts you can give to your future self – check out this post here.

And if you want the same Home Reset Checklists that we use – click here:

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey after I'd been doing a yearly decluttering challenge for 4 years and started to see a change in my home. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, please join our FREE Facebook Group: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group

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