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Summertime is meant for vacations, play dates, picnics and a host of other fun adventures. However, it also happens to be a time when home cleaning tends to take a back seat and messes prevail. While kids are having a ball, parents often pull double-duty to keep the home clean, organized and orderly . . . until now.  

Merry Maids, the nation’s largest home cleaning company and a business unit of ServiceMaster (NYSE: SERV), has created the “Merry Maids Kid Ambassador” program that encourages parents to find creative ways to involve their children in household chores by offering fun, age-appropriate cleaning tips and tricks. Today I am partnering with them to share some great cleaning tips and fun ways to get your kids involved. 

During the summer, parents can struggle to find a steady routine to fill their kids’ day with fun activities, while also keeping a clean household,” says Debra Johnson, a Merry Maids home cleaning expert. “By simply combining the two, turning chores into games and offering small rewards, parents can get kids excited about cleaning and, at the same time, help them learn how to take on more responsibilities.”

The “Merry Maids Kid Ambassador” tips provide fun ideas for getting kids involved and excited about cleaning up the most common kid-made summer messes.

  • When we first started, we gave each child simple chores.  Cleaning rooms, making their beds and picking up the toys in the living room were just a few ideas.unnamed
  • Pick a time.  We devote the morning to doing schoolwork and housework, each for one hour.  If they finish their chore quickly, they can help with a family chore, like cleaning out the van or sorting laundry.  Afternoons are free for the kids to play however they want.

TEAM WORK: While kids are home for the summer, it’s important to divide and conquer the household chores. Working as a team gives your family extra time for fun.

bench storage organizing home for kids 015

  • Make them fun!   We made them fun by pretending.  They pretended to be at the store, cleaning up after customers.  They pretended to be the parents, cleaning up after kids.
  • Mary Ann Jernigan, Merry Maids expert, suggests having each chore equal a dollar amount kids can earn and spend on their favorite things. If kids stick to the chart and complete chores for a week, take them on a fun field trip.
  • In our home, we used to have a chore basket.  Everyone followed it, but over time, it became a lot of work to remember to keep up with it and the kids were doing chores anyway.   What we figured out was that their chores had become routine.  It was the best of both worlds- they were helping us and they were helping themselves.  

chore basket

No more chore charts - why we use a chore basket

Post Play Date Fun: . Glitter from crafts, spilled drinks, ice pop stains, and toys and games can quickly turn this happy activity into a marathon cleanup session for parents.   We noticed that after playdates, we had more of a mess to clean up than any other time in the summer.   Take our four kids and add four more and you have a mini-classroom!    Here is what we do to combat the mess: 

  • Set a timer for 5 minutes.   Everyone cleans as fast as they can for those 5 minutes, before the playdate ends.
  • At the end of a play date, plan a kiddie race to see who can clean the fastest. Keep a whistle and stopwatch ready and issue challenges like “pick up all the toys in red before the whistle.” By the end of the race, the clutter will vanish.
  • Merry Maids experts Kim Hinkly and Nancy Golino both suggest planning a cleaning dance party with the kids. Set a goal to have their room or play area picked up by the end of the song. Of course dancing and laughing is a requirement.
  • For glitter spills, have the kids use a lint roller.
  • For juice or ice pop stains on cloth, have them rub the wet area with ice cubes.
  • Have a “everyone pick up 5 things” as fast as you can race.  Then do 5 more, then 5 more.  Soon, everything will be cleaned up and the kids will t think that they were just having fun… not cleaning!
  • Keep things contained during play dates.  An example is playing with play dough or magic sand.  We give each child a baking dish- it controls the mess and keeps it where it needs to be, for easier clean-up.


Treasure Hunting: With longer days for kids to play, and a more relaxed summertime routine, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the clutter that has crept out during a fun day with friends. While it can be one of the biggest cleaning woes of the season, clutter can also be treasure in disguise.  I often write about freeing yourself from clutter and here are a few ways to do it, even in the summer. 

  • Instead of yelling about the mess, plan a treasure hunt.  A treasure hunt with fun clues and a prize is the perfect way to get kids involved and reward them for their efforts.
  • Make notecards with easy clues that lead to a chore.
  • Once each chore is complete, hand out another clue. At the end of the hunt, give a grand prize and runner-up prizes.
  • The reward for parents? A clutter-free home.
  • Merry Maids experts Jane Santos and Tim Griess both recommend a “Toy Jail;” a basket where toys go if kids don’t pick them up and mom or dad have to clean up the clutter. The toys can be returned to kids only when they finish their chores.


Keep the sand, grass & dirt OUTSIDE: Swimming, beach trips and playing in the yard are summertime favorites, but before you know it, the kids are dragging the outdoors inside.   Here are a few ideas to keep the mess outside. 

  • To avoid bringing sand, grass and dirt indoors, have kids do a doormat dance to wipe off their shoes.
  • Another trick is to turn on the sprinklers and let kids run through to wash off any dirt or sand before entering the house.
  • Have a bucket by the back door.  Step into it before you come inside.  
  • Set up an outside shower. They are cheap to install & they don’t have to be fancy.
  • Eat outside and let kids help with cleanup afterwards.  We eat most of our meals on our back porch in the summertime.  (at least the snacks… they get messy!

Healthy Greek Yogurt Popsicles

Declutter: The slower days of summer can also be great for decluttering the junk sitting in the attic and garage, and also teach kids essential organization skills. Decluttering is a great way for the whole family to feel more productive, get the house clean and make some well-deserved cash.

  • Host a fun family yard sale.  Many neighborhoods have these, so sign up for yours.  You can even sell your things online, at a consignment store, or just donate them.
  • Encourage kids to bring out old toys, clothes and other items they no longer need and sort into piles (broken & not broken).
  • Turn up the creativity by having the kids decorate flyers and distribute around the neighborhood, encouraging a sense of ownership.
  • Give age-appropriate tasks to kids on the day of the sale to help set-up and run the yard sale.
  • Let them spend some of the money earned on a special treat such as a movie, a toy or a book.
  • A community yard sale allows the whole family & neighbors to enjoy a beautiful summer day, have fun with neighbors and keep the home organized.
  • Bonus: when you are done, take your money and buy something special – our kids each picked to have new bike helmets (which was perfect because we would be using them a lot in the summer!)

biking outdoors - yourmoderfamily

My favorite part… if we do these things throughout the week, we can take the weekend off to just have fun!

some days are just meant for playing - yourmodernfamily

While the “Merry Maids Kid Ambassador” tips are sure to help parents get kids excited about their summer chores, trustworthy Merry Maids cleaning experts are ready to create home cleaning plans customized for each household’s needs to ensure a consistent, reliable and thorough cleaning process every time. To find the nearest Merry Maids location, visit   They are the largest home cleaning franchise network in the United States. Stay up-to-date on the latest Merry Maids news and tips by visiting the company’s Facebook page or following Merry Maids on Twitter.

 Merry Maids employs more than 8,000 home cleaning professionals that service homes on four continents. Merry Maids is a business unit of ServiceMaster Global Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: SERV), a leading provider of essential residential and commercial services.  Like, follow or visit us at,,, or


Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. This a really helpful post! So many great ideas. Some of the cute, little kid strategies my almost 11 and 13 yr olds find too childish :(. So my trick for that is they do it because they’re showing/helping their little sister to do it. So then it becomes more fun for them too and laugh through it together 🙂 great post!

  2. Great advice! I think it’s important year around. I found that kids feel and act so much better when they have chores they can and will do.

  3. Becky!!!! This is seriously genius!!! Thank you all the way from Canada! I have bookmarked this page and started a List of prints to make and chores to write up! I just can’t thank you enough for the inspiration and ideas! 🙂 Wishing you a Merry Clutter Free Summer