You know the feeling:
You wake up at 9am on Sunday morning, and the house is upside-down. True, the kids let you sleep in. But you’re also paying a big price . . . in mess.
Now you need to make breakfast, get the kids out of their PJ’s, and get out to whatever social gathering has been scheduled. Maybe you need to drive a carpool, too. And when you come back, the mess will be there to greet you.
Maybe your kids’ bedrooms are a disaster, and maybe the living room is a mess. No matter how many times you ask them to clean up, somehow, it never gets done. Or it does get done, except it’s never done properly, unless you choose to do it yourself.
Believe it or not, there are ways to trick your kids into cooperating with you. Because let’s face it, mess aside, you want to teach these little people to act responsibly. Here are five no-tantrum clean-up strategies.
Make it Into a Competition
This is great if you have more than one child, but still doable with just one. The rules are simple: Run around putting things away. While you’re cleaning, how many items each of you manages to pick up.
The winner, of course, is the one who accomplished the most. You can reward everyone who tried with ice cream, or you can make up a special ditty to praise the winner.
Set a Timer
Here, you have two options:
Option 1: See who can clean up the most before the timer goes off.
Option 2: Try to have the room completely clean before the timer beeps.
Of course, you won’t always manage. If you see the kids are working well, and don’t want to disrupt the flow, simply walk reset the timer. Just make sure not to give too long of an extension, so that the kids don’t lose interest.
Be a Robot
Or anything else, for that matter. Have Robot tell the kids what to do, and praise them for making good progress. Kids love funny voices, and will do almost anything to convince you to keep talking like a robot.
You can also have each child pretend to be an animal. Each “animal” can narrate the items that they are picking up, and where they are putting those items.
Give an Incentive
Remember how your parents would always say, “You can only go to the park when your room is clean?” Sure, it was awful. But chances are, you cleaned your room anyways.
I’m not advocating threats. Instead, tell your kids that you’re planning to take them to the park (or the mall, or a friend’s). Only thing is, the house needs to be clean first. Then ask for volunteers.
Chances are, they’ll all want to help you take them to the park – and the house will be clean before you know it.
Make sure they understand that the faster the house is clean, the faster they leave for the park.
Get Them in the Habit
This is one that you want to start young for. If your kids are five or six, though, don’t despair. Habits can be learned at almost any age.
Teach your children that before they take out a new toy, the previous activity needs to be cleaned up. For instance, Emma had been busy building with blocks. Now, she wants to paint. Before Emma can paint, the blocks need to be put away.
Eventually, the kids get used to this, and all you’ll need to do is give a gentle reminder. And at some point, they’ll probably remember on their own, and clean up automatically.
Do you have any tips for cleaning with kids? Write them in the comments; we’d love to hear them!