Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Works for Me Wednesday

This is my little trick for getting my little guys (ages 2 and 4) to help clean up their playroom, and sometimes the living room if the mess from the playroom has overflowed.

I'm not a proactive type of housekeeper. I don't keep things straight. I wait for things to get messy and then I clean them. Especially the playroom. I usually clean the playroom about once a week or when the kids are no longer playing in there because of the mess. I used to end up doing it all myself, but that's not quite right since they made the mess. I had a terrible time getting them to help me clean up. They would put a toy away and then pull 2 out to play with. They would put a few books away, then get side-tracked and sit down to read a few. So here's what I do now:

I set the timer for a fair amount of time to get the job done, but not so much that we can go slowly (I usually set it for 25 minutes). I tell the boys that if we ALL work together and get the playroom clean before the timer goes off we'll ALL have a treat at the end. But we have to hurry. If someone gets side-tracked, I'll say something like, "Uh-oh, we only have a few more minutes to clean up before the timer goes off! We better hurry!" That usually gets them moving again. The treat at the end is something like a cookie (that are usually off limits to them, just my guilty pleasure), a favorite show or an activity that I've been avoiding. After it's all clean, I make sure there are high-fives all around, and I stand in the playroom to comment on how good it looks and how quickly it got done because we worked together. Then we all sit around to enjoy the treat.

This works for me because I don't mind letting the playroom get messy in the first place. I don't like having to constantly tell the kids to go clean up. Maybe when they are older I'll make them be better at picking up after themselves in the playroom. But right now it's just not worth it to me.

For more cool tips, check out Rocks In My Dryer.


Tara said...

One thing I like to do when the toys get out of hand is to break down the job for the kids. "Everyone pick up things that have blue on them. Everyone pick up the Rescue Heroes." Or I put each kid in charge of a different category, "E, you're in charge of books. A, you take care of the little people toys." Works for me!

Justice Fergie said...

does your 2 year old actually clean up too? that's what i'm currently struggling with. thanks for the timer tip!

Alli said...

Justice Fergie-

I have to be VERY specific with the 2 year old when I tell him what to clean. I say, "Z, pick up the truck and put it in the box....good now, get that ball and put it where it goes. Do you see those blocks over there? They need to go back in their box. Can you bring me all the books." That sort of thing. And then I give the gentle reminders like I said in the post, "Uh-oh, we're running out of time!" Hope that helps!

Heather said...

I have a 2 and an almost 4 year old also and we've been trying every possible angle to get them to clean up recently. Haven't tried the timer, though! Thanks for the tip, I can't wait to try!

Sarah said...

Another tip for getting the youngin's to help with clean up is keep the actual cleaning up part really easy. My boys (almost 4 and barely 2) have two wicker baskets in their bedroom. Everything, and I mean everything, goe in them. It's super easy for them to help when all they have to do is throw it in the basket.