The Cleaning Competition to Make Chores Fun (and get them done!)

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Do your kids do chores? A better question: do your kids do chores well? Mine didn't. Well, sometimes they still don't, but when they don't I know it's my fault. I've learned that I MUST inspect what I ask the kids to do to make sure it gets done. I just cannot maintain a clean house without everyone pitching in, and I can't just expect my kids to get things done well if I never hold them accountable…enter the Cleaning Competition. 

Now, I've said this before – I am naturally lazy. At first it was a big struggle for me to work out the cleaning, cooking, and preparation systems I've come up with here at workingathomeschool.com. Once I got these systems into place, my life has been SO much easier, and I've definitely overcome lots of laziness and self-control issues. But I still struggle sometimes (this morning when I made a protein shake I legitimately considered leaving a big piece of egg shell in the blender because I just didn't feel like chasing it down and coaxing it out), and I don't want to pass that on to my kids!

With 5 kids, I've learned that even when I taught them to do chores well, sometimes things are done halfway. I asked myself if I could improve the process and make chores fun, and surprisingly, the answer was yes! Doing our deeper cleaning jobs this way has been very helpful in lowering my frustration levels and has resulted in a much cleaner house. 

The Cleaning Competition looks like this: I mirror the kids chores, and we race to complete them. I know it seems pretty simple, but it definitely works!  I have two bathrooms in my house (I am thankful for both, since 4 out of 5 of my children are girls!), and the kids and I race for prizes to clean. First we'll gather supplies (2 bottles of vinegar and water and paper towels) and we race to the clean the mirrors in both bathrooms. If I finish before they do, I win the pre-determined prize of my choice (which is something like 15 minutes of quiet time, a break from dishes, the kids making dessert for me, or something like that). If they finish first, they get a prize (like a quarter each, a movie night, staying up 15 minutes past bedtime, a trip to the bookstore to look around, a trip to the park, etc). We make sure we have a list of prizes ready to go ahead of time so that there isn't any disappointment at the end. 

After the mirrors, we move on to the toilets, the floors, the cabinets, the showers, and so on. When the bathrooms are done, we move on to another room (bedrooms, hallways, windows, other areas of the house) and compete until the house is clean, or until we are done with our cleaning jobs for that day. I know it's pretty simplistic, but it really works, and they have SO much fun doing it! They love to beat mommy at cleaning. And, to make sure they “won”, I am forced to check their work. If they don't do a good job, I can point out areas that need to be done again, and then I usually give them a chance to fix it. If they don't, I win by default, and they don't enjoy that. My FAVORITE part of doing cleaning jobs this way with the kids is that they are working together as a TEAM trying to beat me. It's all in good fun, but they really want to win the race, so they divide the jobs and get to work (I help if there is a disagreement in how the chores should be divided).

The Cleaning Competition is pretty simple…kids vs. mom to make chores fun and make sure they are actually completed well. I have some great printables here that I use to help my kids understand what needs to be done. Do you have any fun ways to get your kids to help clean? 

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  1. My kids are also not doing their chores well! I need to supervise them and to blackmail them if I want the job to be done… which makes it really hard for me.. so I often just quickly clean up everything with no additional stress. It is definitely my fault that the kids are like this. I really think that I should change the tactics and try to involve them in the house cleaning by giving them some kind of rewards and thinking of suitable competition games. 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Thanks for the ideas!

    1. I know the feeling! I’ve had such a hard time with this, but I think we’ve turned a corner and we’re finally starting to do better. Good luck!

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