Get your kids to pick up after themselves. Really.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a complete neat freak.  No, that doesn't mean I clean all day long or am obsessive about cleaning.  Cause I'm not.  Really, come look at my dirty bathroom, it's pure proof. 

(But then again, it's almost impossible to keep a bathroom clean when you only have one and five people, plus visitors, use it.)

Anyway, I'm a neat freak.  I can't stand clutter.  I can't stand piles of crap laying around or toys thrown all about.

I have come a long way since having two kids (ages almost 3 and 4.5).  I let them make messes and enjoy their toys throughout much of the house.  I let them keep their rooms in a less than perfect manner.  And their playroom in the basement is in a constant state of chaos. 

I let the kids have their fun and I try not to interrupt their playing too much.  Sometimes I suggest that they put something away before they get something else out.  But most times, they are playing with ten (or more) different sets of toys.  It gets to be a bit much.

Sometimes getting them to clean it all up is a real pain in the you know what.  But I have magic words.  Magic words that make it much easier to get it all cleaned up.  Really.

When I see that they have a big mess and I know that it needs to be cleaned up for lunch or school or whatever, I ask them to each pick up two things and put them away where they belong.  And they do it. 

They jump up and hurry to choose their two items (or 2 toy sets) to put away.  They willingly do this because it's such a short and easy task.  And it has a definite end in sight. And they know that they can get back to playing as soon as they are done.

Asking kids to clean up a huge mess is overwhelming to them.  Also, it signals the end of playtime and they are obviously not happy about that.  But giving them a small task, like picking up two things each makes it so much easier for them to accomplish.  And they feel good that they are listening to your instructions and that they can still play for a bit longer.

After my kiddos pick up their two things each, I let them go back to playing for alittle while.  Then I'll ask again that they stop and pick up two more things.  Or maybe three or four, depending on the size of the mess.  Then they go back to playing again and when it's close to the end of playtime, I'll announce that playtime is almost over and we'll have to clean up for lunch or whatever in a few minutes.

Giving them the warning that they only have a few minutes left helps alot.  It helps them transition from playtime into cleanup time without as much fuss.  My almost 3 year old still fusses, but it makes it sooo much easier.

Anyway, by this time most of their toys are picked up and put away, so cleanup is not much of an issue. 

I hope these tips help keep a wrangle on your kids' toys.  It certainly works for me.  Do you have any other toy clean up tips?  Please share!

For more Works For Me Wednesday tips, visit We are THAT Family.


One Red Daisy said...

I will really have to try this! Thanks for the suggestion. :)

Em and Lib said...

Great tip. I sometimes set a timer for 3 minutes and we all race around and get as much done as possilbe before it dings. Quite motivating, too!

Serendipity is Sweet said...

Great advice!
Thanks for sharing :)

TiLT said...

little bits at a time definitely works best here. I made a fabric basket he can fill & bring out to the main room...if he wants more he has to clean up a bucket full first - so it helps limit how much is out at one. This doesn't cover the large things, but it helps :)