Lately, our home has been consumed by toys. Here’s the problem. I’m not ready to start paying allowance yet. In fact, I’m undecided about the whole thing. So I got creative and you know what? It worked. Find the secret to getting your kids to clean up and help out around the house. Comes with a free printable!
With my kids back in school, cleaning up in our household is at an all-time low. My daughter’s play scenes, albeit beautiful and intricate, have taken over both floors of our home.
Because her play time gets interrupted by leaving for school or going to bed, she’s started bargaining. She has been asking to leave her toys because she plans to play with them later. And I’ve been letting her…
That is until nothing was getting cleaned up. Ever. It started to drive me crazy.
Over the summer, this happened too. Except then, the excuse was, “I already cleaned up before.” Or, “He took it out!” I needed to come up with clear expectations and get the kids on board.
While I think there is incredible merit to teaching children the value of money, I am not ready to give my kids allowance yet… You see, I want to instil in them a sense of responsibility for our home. Because adults don’t typically get paid to tidy their rooms, unload the dishwasher, or make their beds, I’ve decided to hold off.
Instead, I reflected. And then, it occurred to me!
The secret to getting your kids to clean up every single time…
The secret to getting your kids to clean up every single time is to operate like a teacher would. Last year, when I observed my son’s preschool class, I noticed that during play time, pretty well every toy was out. In a class of only eight kids, the six-hundred-foot classroom looked like a bomb went off.
That is until play time was over.
Then his teacher clapped her hands, started singing and the kids started firing toys into the correct bins. The farm toys were with the farm toys, the blocks with the blocks, and the puzzles were with the puzzles. By snack time, the classroom was immaculate and organized.
So, how did she do it every single day?
How she did it is where the secret sauce is.
- stopped what she was doing,
- oversaw what the kids did,
- and supported them when needed.
How this can be applied at home.
Admittedly, this isn’t as easy at home as in the classroom. The reason is we don’t have a prescribed schedule unless we’re leaving the house. But, it can be done.
A few things are needed to prepare include to:
- Label bins if you want toys to stay separate and explain to the kids what the images/ words mean.
- Remind yourself to give them forewarning. For example, “We need to leave for school in 15 minutes. When the timer goes off, we will start our clean up.”
- Oversee their clean up and help them until the routine becomes really established.
Related reading: Your Kids Will Listen if You do THIS!
Additional tips to get kids to help out around the house
1. Discuss the value of why they should help out.
From time to time, I make a point of talking to my kids about how it’s important to contribute to the household when you’re in a family. Then we will talk about different ways they can help out and what I do for the family too. Since starting this, I’ve noticed my daughter will paraphrase our discussions when it’s time to clean up.
2. Don’t ask. State your expectations for clean up.
When I ask my kids to do something they don’t want to do, the majority of the time their answer is, “No.” Instead, I state, “It’s time to clean up, please.” If they say no, I clarify that it wasn’t a question and that it needs to be done.
3. Make cleaning up and helping a game. Some favourites in our household include:
- Go Go Go Go Stop
- Freeze – I play music and pause it periodically
- Beat the timer
- Race – I will announce what I have to do and what I expect them to do. Then we race to see who wins.
- Slam dunk contest – I tell my kids to launch (unbreakable) toys into the basket and I act as the announcer/ scorekeeper. I shout things like, “She shoots she scores!” and “Slam dunk!”
4. Work together.
A request as simple as, “Clean up your toys,” can seem overwhelming to a child. When they don’t want to clean up, I work with my kids. The downside of this tactic is that I can’t go into autopilot and keep working on what I want to get done. But it is much more effective than repeating myself endlessly and nothing getting done.
5. Avoid using, “You took it out. You put it away,” as a reason they should clean up.
This one is hard for me. I’m trying to avoid doing it is because I’ve had it used against me. Specifically, my kids will say, “But he/ she did it,” when I’ve asked them to clean up. Part of being a family is working together regardless of the source of the mess.
This post is sponsored by Pine-Sol. It contains affiliate links which means, if you choose to make a purchase, I’ll receive a small commission. All opinions expressed are my own.
6. Say, ‘Yes’ when they ask to help.
It can be more effortful to cook, fold laundry and clean the bathroom when my kids want to join in the ‘fun.’ But I adjust what I’m doing to accommodate my children’s desire to help. For instance, I let my kids peel and wash vegetables. They can put the folded clothes in their drawers. And my daughter loves spraying and wiping the floors. I just give her rubber gloves, a rag and a 1L spray bottle. I put 1L of water with two teaspoons of Pine-Sol. It’s my absolute favourite floor cleaner I’ve ever tried because it dries streak-free. And my daughter loves the Spring Blossom and Lavender scents because they come in her two favourite colours.
7. Use chore charts with pictures.
Chore charts act as wonderful pictorial cues for what a child should do. Saying, “Clean up,” can be overwhelming in part because the child doesn’t know where to start. Chore charts with pictures make cleaning up and helping out so much easier. Get your own here:
- Visual Chore Chart with Printable from Organized Chaos Online
- Get Your Child to Clean Their Room with Printable from Mama by Fire