Monday, January 26, 2015

How To Get Your Kids to Clean Their Room

If there's one thing that you do a lot in a family with 6 kids, it's clean. I'm not talking about serious deep-cleaning. Unless somebody famous is coming to our house, that stuff pretty much never happens.

No, I'm talking about just picking stuff up. And getting your kids to pitch in, preferably without whining, taking all day, or arguing over who's cleaning up more.

Having a few clean-up games for kids in your pocket can help. Here are some of the ones we've tried in the past, some more successful than others.

As a mom of 6 children who gets easily overwhelmed by clutter, I’ve tried all the ideas and tips out there to get my kids to clean their rooms. I just want them to pick up after themselves and keep their rooms passably tidy, and I’ve found that these 6 fun and simple cleanup games help get the job done. #cleanupgames #kids

The 60-Second Cleanup

When a room is, like, biohazard messy, we gather every member of the family and count off 60 seconds as we clean together at top speed.

Pros: Obviously we don't get it all done in one shot, but we make a dent and it makes the job less overwhelming. My kids also think they're getting away with something if they start cleaning before I say "ready, set, go."

Cons: It's hard to stop when the room's not even close to done. But if you keep going after you hit 60, the natives will revolt.

Divide and Conquer Cleanup

For tattle-free cleaning, assign each one a side of the room. They can come out as soon as their side is straightened up.

Pros: I started doing this when my daughters, who share a room, began to believe that "clean your room" meant "report to me constantly on whatever your sister is doing or not doing." Now, they don't care what the other does.

Cons: Sometimes it's really not fair if I know one has been responsible for making most of the mess. I'll either do a different type of cleanup, or I'll give the messier side of the room to the one who's been a piggy.

Flashlight Cleanup

The kids like it when I turn off the lights and use a flashlight to point at junk on the floor. They race to grab each item and put it away.

Pros: The kids actually beg me to do flashlight cleanups before bed sometimes. They think it's fun.

Cons: Collisions. Possible concussions. Takes forever. Can only be done at nighttime. Did I mention concussions? I think I discovered this cleanup on Pinterest, the source of all ideas that sound good but don't actually work in real life.

As a mom of 6 children who gets easily overwhelmed by clutter, I’ve tried all the ideas and tips out there to get my kids to clean their rooms. I just want them to pick up after themselves and keep their rooms passably tidy, and I’ve found that these 6 fun and simple cleanup games help get the job done. #cleanupgames #kids

Fast and Slow Cleanup

Using any song of your choice, alternate between singing ridiculously slow and ridiculously fast. The kids copy you, cleaning up slow or fast depending on your singing.

Pros:  I don't know why this excites them, it just does. I mostly sing fast, but just a few seconds here and there of slow singing makes all the difference.

Cons: Listening to yourself sing "clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere" over and over may cause your brain to implode. I suggest picking another song. Any other song.

Beat the Buzzer Cleanup

Sometimes I take a buzzer from a board game and put it on the far side of the room. They clean as I sloooowly walk toward it with my finger extended. The kids try to get the room straightened up before I get to the buzzer and push it.

Pros: Watching how far I am from the button is a good visual to keep them on task. You could even have the kids hit the buzzer if they beat you  if there's anything I know about children, it's that they love making loud, annoying noises.

Cons: You have to be there the whole time the cleaning is going on, which is kind of irritating. Maybe you can read a book or something?

40-Count Cleanup

When I'm feeling particularly hands-off, I'll simply tell my kids to pick up and put away 40 things. We've tried different numbers in the past, but for whatever reason 40 seems to yield the best results.

Pros: They clean fast since they know it'll be over soon (sooner if they speed up.) They choose what they put away so there's usually less whining. Doesn't require me to be physically in the room, as long as the honor system holds.

Cons: Only works with kids who know their numbers. They'll also try to count each individual Lego as one of their 40 things. Seriously, you're going to need to lay down some comprehensive ground rules about what constitutes "one" thing.  

If all else fails, you can always walk in wearing a hazmat suit and start throwing things in garbage bags with a pair of salad tongs. That'll light a fire under your kids and get the room cleaned up in no time.

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Steph @ The Kat Almanac said...

These are great tips! I think my son would love flash light clean up! And I agree, my house never gets clean clean unless someone comes over. And even then I only clean the spots I think people will be!

Jenny Evans said...

The flashlight cleanup has got to work for someone. I hope it's you, because it's certainly not us.

And I agree, it never ceases to amaze me how I get more cleaning done in the 10 minutes before someone comes over than I do all week.

Crystal said...

My three-year-old is completely obsessed with flashlights. I am sitting in the dark with a flashlight shining around the room right now, in fact! I will definitely be using this game for him to tidy up his room after all of the school-age kids are in bed at night. Someone would definitely be killed if I tried it with all 7 kids at once.

Anonymous said...

Very funny. I actually have used the garbage bag trick many a times as they truly believe their stuff might go to the dump. Thank for writing some other great ideas. I love the flashlight idea.

Spidermummy said...

I am totally saving this page! I need these tips in my life! x

Queen Mom Jen said...

You are a very wise Mom! Great game ideas.

Jenny Evans said...

I'm always prepared to finish what I start, although if they do start cleaning up to save the rest of their stuff from the garbage, that's cool.

BritishMumUSA said...

I have teenagers and I use the WIFI password will be available after you have completed your chores :) It is a miracle worker!!!!!

Unknown said...

Garbage is always a good way to get kids moving! Great post with some great tips!

ghostwritermummy said...

These are BRILLIANT idea! Thank you thank you thank you! I have 4 kids and feel like I am constantly picking up after them. Can't wait to test these games! x x x

Unknown said...

I love many of these suggestions. I want to do the flashlight cleanup... fun!

Thanks for sharing and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop!

Wishing you a lovely day.

Unknown said...

What fantastic ideas! I love this - so glad I found you on the Deliberate Mom! :)

Jenny Evans said...

Glad it helped. But if you try flashlight cleanup with all 4 in the same room, do so at your own risk.

Janine Huldie said...

I am truly pinning this as I love your ideas and always a battle here to get my girls to clean up. So, can't thank you enough for the tips you shared, because I need all the help I can get on this.

Let's Talk Mommy said...

I love your ideas for cleanups here. I will have to save for when my two are a little older but some of the ideas here just might work on my one year old. hahaha It's great to see you joining in with SWM if you could include a link back to me or the SWM badge on your posts that you link I would greatly appreciate it so everyone knows where you are sharing. I hope to see you again Wednesday for another great round! Your blog is lovely. Thanks for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

Unknown said...

Great tips, will try to apply them with my daughter! #IBABLOGGERS

PurpleSlob said...

Is there another clean up song???

Jenny Evans said...

That's a great question! You probably don't want this one:

Maybe if you like 80s hard rock:

Or techno remixes:

Somebody needs to get on writing a new clean up song, honestly.

Bridget Page said...

I am so desperate with making my kids cleaning that would try anything! I really would love to have them helping with the house keeping because they are the reason why it is so messy! Thanks for the ideas!

Jenny Evans said...

It's a constant battle. I've yet to find a system that sort of runs itself so I don't have to constantly be on top of it...