How to get kids to clean up after themselves
Does your house look like a hurricane hit it after your kids' playtime? We give you some useful information on how to get kids to clean up after themselves...keep reading to find out more!
There’s nothing quite like seeing a child play with his toys by himself. He’s fully engrossed with them and you know this gives you some ‘me time’ to grab a cup of coffee or have a quick chat with your best friend.
The feeling is wonderful… until you see the house looking like it’s been hit by a bomb! There are toys everywhere, in every room. Pieces of Lego lie everywhere, just waiting to trip you up, and dolls laugh at your distress from every corner of the house!
You know who the culprit is… it’s your little human tornado! I’ve got two of them. They have the ability to swipe the entire content of a bookshelf on to the floor, and pick up plastic toy-boxes, spilling everything inside on the floor.
What used to happen after my boys messed up the house with their toys is that my helper or I would tidy up everything, just because it was faster that way.
But I’m happy to say this is no longer the case, and I have discovered a solution to the problem — I get the kids to clean up after themselves (most of the time!).
Do you want to know how to get kids to clean up after themselves? Find out on the next page…
Clean up tip 1: Work together and keep it fun
It’s unreasonable to expect a toddler or even a 4-year-old to clean up all by themselves without any help. So assist your child by taking care of the more difficult tasks, such as putting books back on shelves, and let your child look after things like tossing blocks back into the toy box.
Make it fun by setting an alarm clock and seeing who finishes their part of cleaning up before the alarm rings. I sing ‘the clean-up’ song and the moment my 2-year-old hears it, he gets very excited and starts tossing toys back into their boxes!
Clean up tip 2: Have a place for everything
Help your child keep the chaos under control by having a designated play area in your house, as well as plenty of storage boxes, baskets and deep shelves to keep the toys organised.
Be cautious about getting toy chests as they can actually be hazardous to little fingers if the lid slams shut on them. So try to avoid them unless they have air holes, rounded or padded corners, and, if it must have one, a lid that is lightweight or hinged to stay open.
Cleanup tip 3: Limit the cleanups
If you have a younger toddler, it would be near impossible to control the mess all day. So work in a dedicated ‘clean-up’ time each day (e.g. before dinner) in to your child’s routine.
If you are trying to teach an older child to tidy up, make up a rule where he has to clean up one set of toys before he starts playing with something else. For example, tell your little boy he needs to put away his train tracks and trains before he can start playing with his blocks.
Clean up tip 4: Limit the toys
Try not to let your kids play with all their toys at once. This just results in a bigger mess to be cleaned up. Allocate different toys or activities during play-times, such as playing with blocks in the morning, and playing with the doll-house in the afternoon.
For more clean up tips, do go to page 3
Clean up tip 5: Resist stepping in
I know… kids can take the longest time to complete a task. But if you’re stepping in to help your older child clean up his portion of the mess, you’re not really teaching him anything.
To ensure you don’t become fidgety and jump in to help your kid clean up, ensure you allocate them a clean up task proportionate to their age and ability. It’s pointless to a expect a 2-year-old to neatly organise books in a shelf — so keep that task for yourself and give her something she can handle, like putting away crayons.
Clean up tip 6: Lead by example
If you constantly leave a mess after yourself without tidying up, or complain in front of your kids about doing so, they’re going to associate cleaning up as (a) not essential, and (b) a dreary, boring task.
Clean up tip 7: Break it up
Cleaning up a huge mess can be overwhelming to your child. But they (especially older kids) still need to learn that if they make a mess, cleaning up is their responsibility.
So break down the task for them to make it more do-able. You could say something like, “Let’s start with these blocks over here and then move on to those dolls over there…”, and so on.
Remember, your kids are not going to learn how to clean up after themselves overnight, so do have patience with them and remember to start when they are young. This way, cleaning up after playing will become second nature as they grow older. Also, don’t forget to praise them for a job well done when they do finish cleaning up.
We hope you found this article useful. We would love to hear about how you get kids to clean up after themselves – Tell us by leaving a comment.