Fed up with constant mess? 9 great ways to get kids cleaning!

Fed up with constant mess? 9 great ways to get kids cleaning!

When not bending down and picking stuff up, I can normally be found scraping concrete-like lumps of porridge crud off the dining room table and stuffing my pockets with small bits of lego to put away later.

Failing to do the above results in a house straight out of a scene of Hoarders, with huge islands of discarded toys and gumboots linked by bridges of crusts and discarded apple cores. In an effort to get the kids to help out, I asked a load of experienced mums (and a few grandmothers) what has worked for them with this eternal struggle. Here are their best suggestions:

1. Baskets are your best friend. Invest in as many as you can afford: one in each bedroom for laundry. One in each room for toys and assorted plasticky kid stuff. One on the stairs. If you can't put it away, at least you can hide it!

2. Make tidying fun. Try devoting ten minutes a day (say 5 - 5.10pm) to getting the whole family to help tidy up. Turn on some loud music, dance like a loon and try to spread a little enthusiasm. For the little ones, try singing this song to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star:

It is time to clean up now.
Clean up, clean up, we know how.
We can clean up; you will see

Just how clean our room can be.
3. Set an example. Always make a point of putting things away and keeping things neat and tidy. It doesn't have to be perfect, but that's where the baskets come in…

4. Give loads of encouragement and praise. Show them how impressed you are and reward their positive behavior with a big cuddle and a story or two.

5. Take the kids (and husband) on a house tour through your eyes.  Start at the front door and work your way around the whole house, pointing out all the things that need cleaning and tidying up. Then write it all down and assign everyone a job or two, and don't forget to plan something nice for once it's all done!

6. Chores for pocket money. Bigger kids respond to monetary bribery, and also want expensive items. Take advantage of this by determining their savings goal and making a chore chart to help them reach it. 

7. Split the task down into smaller tasks. Instead of a shouty: "Tidy your room!" try a more reasonable: "Let's get all the yellow lego in the box." This works better with younger children as the task appears more achievable and they usually like to sort!

8. Set a timer. Make it a competition… who can get the most toys put away before the buzzer goes off? Make sure there's a small treat or advantage for the winner!

9. Make sure your children know what is expected of them. Make a checklist they can refer to with pictures for little ones and simple words for older ones.
1.    Make your bed.
2.    Put laundry in basket.
3.    Put away clean clothes.
4.    Put toys away. 
5.    Now you’re free to mess it up again!

I like to remind myself that no doubt I'll miss some of the mess when my kids have left home and I glance into their immaculate, empty rooms. But until then, I need all the help I can get - please share your tidying-up tips in the comments below!


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