Single Moms: Here Are 9 Ways to Get Your Kids More Involved in Cleaning Your Home

The biggest issue with a messy home with kids is they’ve become part of the problem rather than the solution. As a single mom, your time is precious and limited — you don’t have time to clean up everyone’s mess.

It’s time to flip the script and take control of your home, starting with getting your kids more involved with housework. Luckily, kids of any age can help to some degree if you have the right strategies and tools under your belt.

Here Are 9 Ways to Get Your Kids More Involved in Cleaning Your Home

1. Make It a Game

Learn a little lesson from Mary Poppins — when cleaning is a game rather than a chore, it becomes much more appealing. Let your kids take turns tossing non-breakable toys into their bins to score points. Send them on a scavenger hunt to look for particular items. Set up some music to dance to while everyone cleans, then when it pauses, everyone has to freeze. With these fun cleaning games, time will pass quickly, and they’ll forget their chores.

2. Establish a Routine

Working with your kids’ natural rhythms is the most effective way to get anything done, especially less fun tasks like cleaning. Most children thrive with structure and routines. Lean into that and find little ways to make tidying up and doing housework part of their everyday life.

For example, as part of your bedtime routine, you could add a 10-minute tidy, where everyone races to pick up as much as possible. This method can even apply to simple tasks like putting their clothes in the hamper immediately.

3. Give Choices

Kids are much more likely to buy into family clean-up time when they have a voice and choice. Instead of telling them they need to run the vacuum, give two acceptable options — vacuuming or washing their bedding.

Another option is to randomize their assignments. Create a popsicle stick with an age-appropriate chore written on each one. Have each child close their eyes and pull one out to complete.

4. Make Them Work for Wi-Fi

Older kids with tablets, game systems or their own phones will likely respond well to this next tactic. Create a list of tasks each child must finish before you give them the Wi-Fi password. This would necessitate you rotating to a new one each day, so it will take extra time on your part. When you’re already strapped for spare minutes, you may want to save this one as a last resort.

5. Set a Timer

If your kids are highly competitive, like many are, use that knowledge to your advantage. Give everyone a task they need to complete and challenge them to beat the timer. Alternatively, skip the timer and see if your kids can finish their job before you finish yours — you can tackle some adult projects while they work on something suitable to their age and capabilities.  

6. Create Visual Reminders

Carrying the sole responsibility of getting the kids ready for school, fed and to bed is stressful as a single parent. Make your job a little easier by making your kids more accountable.

Little ones thrive on visual cues, so create a list of tasks they need to complete and represent each with a picture. A picture of a bed would symbolize making their bed, and a picture of a toybox could represent picking up their toys. Introduce your child to each one and be specific with how it needs to get done.

Set it up so they have some way of marking off each task — for example, with a dry-erase marker, a magnet or a velcro piece to move.

7. Make Your Space More Functional

Keeping your house clean when it’s overflowing with stuff is nearly impossible. Even with your kids’ help and clever storage ideas, you’ll still end up with messy surroundings. Carve out some time as a family to declutter problem areas.

Start with something of yours, like your clothes. Let your kids watch you and talk them through your thought process. Once you modeled getting rid of your possessions, help them tackle their toys. Have your kids help you take the toys to a thrift store or other good cause so they can see the impact of their generosity.

8. Avoid Using Cleaning as a Punishment

In your frustration, it’s easy to slip into using cleaning as a punishment, like doing the dishes every night for a week for fighting with their sister. While it may seem like a good idea in the moment, this practice ties negative feelings to helping with housework.

You want your kids to take pride in keeping the house clean, not dread it. Have a list of other consequence ideas you can use, so you don’t return to chores in the heat of the moment.

9. Start Young

Teach your kids about house responsibilities and working as a family to keep things clean when they’re still young. The earlier you can get them started, the better. Select one or two age-appropriate tasks your child can help with and be intentional about teaching them how to accomplish them. Over time, increase the difficulty and amount of chores they’re responsible for.

It’s Up to You to Set the Tone

Despite all these amazing tactics, your plans to get the kids more involved in housework will fail if you forget the essential ingredient — your position as the role model. Your children need to see you in the trenches with them, getting stuff done. Presenting your family as a team who works together to complete all the tasks will get you much farther than requiring your kids to do chores alone.  

Julie Higgins
Julie is a Staff Writer at She has been working in publishing houses before joining the editorial team at momooze. Julie's love and passion are topics around beauty, lifestyle, hair and nails.