Monday, May 5, 2014

Cleaning Up Kids - Day 1

I'm dedicating the month of May to a series on how to maintain a tidy space when kids live in your home.  A friend asked me awhile ago to address the issue, so hopefully I can offer some ideas, tips and advice that you might find useful in your child-filled houses!

Day 1 is, unfortunately, bad news day.  Bad news in that if you don't want to follow this advice, then you should not bother reading the rest of the month's posts.  
Today's tip is the entire key to maintaining a tidy kid space.



I know, sounds silly, simple, like, duh you want your money back.  But it is KEY if you want to win the battle of keeping kids' areas clean.  They need to pick up their toys.  Daily.  More than daily.

Here's our basement where my kids hang out most often.

It doesn't look like they play there.  But they do.  They build forts, they cover the island with colouring, they Rainbow Loom, they bring down dolls, they play Wii, they crochet.  

But every time we leave the house or if it's bedtime, we make them pick up.  
Every. Time.
Every. Thing.

Now I know you think I'm sounding all anal and over stricty about it but I promise you if you let it go once, the next time it's easier to let it go and then before you know it you've got a mess that's bigger than anyone wants to try to touch.  
I promise you.

And yes I know the old argument, "But MOM, I'm gonna play with that when we get back!"  I've fallen for it many a time but guess what?  They don't play with it when they get back and 4 days later they're still not playing with it and they sure don't want to clean it up any more than they did before.

There are two things we need to be clear on.
1.  You need to train your kids to clean.  You cannot just yell down to clean up and expect it to be done.  Be there.  Help out.  Point to where things go.  Show them the expectations until they are old enough that you can let them to take it on by themselves.
2.  You have to give them time.  If you're leaving the house at 4:30 and you call down for them to clean at 4:25, you will likely find that they are frustrated, you are frustrated, and the cleaning cannot get finished.  Give ample time for the clean up process to happen.

This is the hardest lesson I'm going to offer this month and I know you are thinking, she can't mean like  every time.

But I do.  
I mean it. 
And I believe it to be the most important and most key principle to maintaining a tidy space.


  1. Oh Shannon, this is so timely! I do need that kick in the butt to get them to clean more regularly. I look forward to this series for sure! Good tips already, I think I better do the same for myself though too - sometimes I'm guilty of not always picking up after myself. :)

    1. Hee. Yes - well - it is the key to EVERY tidy space. :)

  2. Fantastic! I have always said kids even play better when the space is tidy and I feel like I am banging my head against the wall. But now I will keep on!

  3. This is very appropriate to our home right now as well.. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the month!

  4. Excellent tips! I especially like your advice about "teaching" the kids to clean. I think we assume sometimes that because we know how we want things, our kids will automatically know how to make it that way. Looking forward to the rest of your series!

  5. Looking forward to your straight forward advice over the month. I have this bizarre problem with one of my children and that is that she won't play with her toys b/c she doesn't want to have to clean up afterwards. She'll say, "I don't want to play b/c then I have to clean up." Frustrating.

    1. Oh dear. That is frustrating! Maybe this month we can make clean up so easy that she'll be tempted... :)

  6. The kids are not going to like this series. We'll see if they are capable of more than they let on. Like Corinna says, I'm hoping this will be the kick in the butt we need over here. We need a lot of help, so I'm expecting daily posts!

    1. I'm sticking to twice a week so you can have plenty of practice time in between! ;)

  7. Oh Shannon, you would be so proud. I spent two hours in the boys room today - TWO HOURS - with a big garbage bag and a plan. Together, with them, we did a lot and they are so proud of their room now. I forced myself to dump everything out, and only put things back if they had a home. I may just be learning. :)