You spend all day doing your best to keep the house as clean as possible. It is now 5PM and you go to get dinner started. Five minutes after starting dinner you look out into the living room to check on the kids and make sure they aren’t killing each other. With one quick peek… you realize your hard work has been destroyed in a matter of minutes. It looks like you haven’t cleaned the house all day and to top it all off… in walks your husband from work.
Over the past few months I feel like I have, FINALLY, figured out how to get my kids to help clean up. I spent way too long cleaning it all myself, with them having no care in the world that they just pulled every. single. toy. out. Here are my 4 ways to trick your children into helping you clean!
1. On a schedule
We always hear that children thrive on schedules. When it comes to cleaning… it is no exception. I make it a point to have set times every day that they know we always clean up. The main “scheduled” time we clean up is before meals. As I’m getting a meal ready I make sure to warn/remind them that they’ll need to clean up shortly. I often try to stress that they don’t make a big mess because it will then just be more for them to clean up. About 15 minutes before I’m finished with preparing the meal I let them know that I’m almost done and they should get started cleaning up so they can eat as soon as I’m done.
Honestly, this is the one that fails the most. Some days they don’t do as well cleaning up completely by themselves. However, although it is technically a “failure” with getting them to clean up by themselves, it is still important that they know/expect that they will have to clean up before they eat. I usually go into the room and help them clean up once I have a moment of down time, or once I’m finished preparing the meal. This is where I implement the below techniques to get it done quickly!
I recently discovered counting! Haha, yep… I just figured out how to count! Okay, okay… At least when it comes to cleaning. Most moms uses the “1,2,3” when their kid is in trouble, but I’ve been using it as an incentive! One of the best ways for me to get Kieran (4) to clean is to start grabbing toys and I count how many handfuls I’m putting away. This works really well with Legos, Dinosaurs, etc. Anything that has any amount of things that go in one specific bucket/bin, it works wonderfully! He will jump right in and start counting with me. Getting this child to help clean is no easy task. So… it must work! Haha. This is also typically the way that works best to get him to clean by himself. I’ll ask him to quickly count how many toys he puts into the bucket (or whatever) and he’s excited to do it.
3. Make it a Game
Making anything into a game is always a great way to get a kid to do many things. Make it a game of how quickly can you clean, who can clean the most things in the shortest amount of time, or anything else that makes them think this is a FUN activity! Making cleaning not seam like a chore is key. If they can find cleaning to be as fun as playing, why wouldn’t they want to?!
4. Set a Timer
This is another one that I have great success with… I actually used it today! Kieran has a habit of thinking he NEEDS someone to help him clean anything. It can be the largest amount of toys you have ever seen, or a few Legos that are still out. If I’m trying to get him to clean up by himself I’ll often tell him that I’m going to set a timer, and that he needs to have everything cleaned up by the time it goes off. Depending on the size of the mess will depend on how long I’ll set the timer. I also often have a habit of adding extra minutes (without him noticing, of course) to the timer if I see it’s getting close to going off, but he is doing a good job cleaning. This is also a great trick to make them tire themselves out. He’ll often grab ONE thing at a time… and run back and forth.
There are my 4 ways to trick your children into helping you clean! I hope these tips and tricks can help someone! These tricks have made my life SO much less stressful when it comes to cleaning. The boys actually… dare I say enjoy cleaning up more often than not. Although… you could also just keep having children until one of them enjoys cleaning… haha! My youngest LOVES cleaning; I think my neat-freak tendencies are starting to rub off on him. He’ll be on his way to go get a toy, stop dead in his tracks, and say “Mommy… mess! I clean?” Who can say no to that? I’m sure it won’t last forever, though!
If you have any other tricks to getting your children to help clean, please let me know! I’m sure at some point in time these tricks will loose their “fun factor” and I’ll need some new ideas!