Ah, clean-up. Every parent’s favorite time of the day. Can you sense the sarcasm? For so many moms, clean-up is just another task to add on to their neverending to-do list. It doesn’t help that anytime you ask your kid to tidy up their mess, they look at you with the blankest of stares and then carry on doing literally anything else. Getting kids to clear up toys is a nightmare.
But what if clean-up time didn’t have to be frustrating? There are ways to encourage clean-up without tears or frustration and lucky for you, I’ve got them right here.
1Give Everything a Clear Home
First and foremost, everything should have a home. As tempted as we may be to just throw everything in one room and intentionally ignore it, you’ll be much more satisfied if each thing has their own place.
This means LEGOS in the LEGO bin, dress-up clothes in the closet, and anything else in their own corresponding bin or area. Our preschooler is heavy into LEGO right now and we use a table that is built specifically with these blocks in mind.
Everything else goes into a labeled bin or clearly designated area. We’ve only just recently started doing this and I’ve noticed a significant improvement in our daughter’s clean-up skills.
2Purge and Rotate
It’s also important to do a regular purge of toys. At the end of each season, take a mental inventory of what your child regularly plays with and get rid of the things they’ve ignored. Not only will fewer toys make cleaning up go quicker, but it’ll also keep your child from feeling overwhelmed while playing.
If you aren’t comfortable with getting rid of toys just yet, you can rotate them out as well. Take stock of what your child plays with the most and keep them out. Then, put the rest away and every two weeks or so you can switch one toy out for another.
3Make a Game Of It
Kids love games so why not use that to your advantage? At our house, we use cleaning time to reinforce different things she’s learning at preschool. This may sound totally awful mixing two seemingly “tedious” things but bear with me.
Depending on whichever letter she chooses, I have our daughter pick up anything she can find with a similar sound to the letter. If she sees anything with the letter printed on it, that counts too. We also group things into piles by color and even size.
This can sometimes make cleaning a little longer, but honestly, it’s so much more enjoyable, even I forget that we’re cleaning rather than playing. Getting kids to clear up toys can be fun? You better believe it!
4Don’t Rush The Process
This is something I struggled with for a long time. Heck, I still struggle with this on some days. It’s easy to get frustrated when your kids are taking forever to clean up, especially when you have places to go and you’re in a hurry.
If you rush your child and you start raising your voice, it’s only going to make the situation more stressful. As difficult as it can be, it’s important to not let your emotions get the best of you. Patience is key when getting kids to clear up toys.
5Set a Good Example
You’re going to see this tip in a lot of things that I write. Why? Because it’s basically the cornerstone of all aspects of parenting. In your role as a parent, you’re there with your child from day one. They grow up watching how you speak and interact with other people and with your surroundings.
If you lived in squalor before kids and you never really changed your habits, you can’t really expect your child to be neat. They’ve grown up seeing a general mess and it’s all they really know.
By setting a good example and cleaning up your own messes, your child will feel much more inclined to clean up theirs. Getting kids to clear up toys can be about modeling the correct behavior.
This tip is especially important if you have young children. As a mom to a preschooler, I can attest to this. A young child’s attention span isn’t very long and you can’t give them a task like “go clean that room.”
They’re going to walk into whichever room you told them to clean and not know where to start. If you give them more specific instructions like “please clean up your LEGOs” or “it’s time to put your blocks away,” they’re going to understand more.
You could even go so far as to make a clean-up list together. Write down specific tasks and then let them mark them off as they finish. They’re going to feel more accomplished as they cross each item off the list.
Getting kids to clear up toys doesn’t have to be a hassle. As frustrating as it is now, by changing a few simple things in your clearing-up routine, it will become much more enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect and there are still some days where I throw in the towel and end up clearing up by myself.
However, since we started incorporating these tips into our routine, it’s become a lot less stressful on me and a lot more enjoyable for our daughter.
How do you approach clean-up time in your home? Do you use any of these tips? I want to know!