Thursday, May 22, 2014

Making Clean-up Fun

If you have children or at least some who come over, you'll know how frustrating it can be when they dump everything out on the floor.  Because in the back of your mind you know, 1) they won't clean it up with a smile on their face.  They will throw a fit.  and 2) If I don't want to deal with yet another fit, I'll have to clean it up.

So here I am to rescue you.  Here are some tips for making clean-up fun.

1) Say, "Can you be my helper?"- Studies have shone that children are 25% more likely to help clean up if you call them a helper versus asking them to simply help clean up or clean up.  While in other areas calling them good artists, for example, is defeating to self-esteem, this is one area where you can use a noun.  I assign my children the status of "Helper HB" and "Helper Knee" and that they are my helpers and then assign them a helper area to tackle.  Sometimes this works particularly if the area to pick up is small.  As I said, it increases clean up interest by 25%.

2) Say, "First we're going to pick up all the orange toys.  Do you see something orange?"- In other words make it a game of eye spy.  My children (or at least my oldest) is good with colors, but you can use shapes or materials too (like all metal things, plastic, or wooden). 

3) Make it a race- Seriously.  You can sweep all the stuff into piles and have your children race each other to get their pile into the bin, drawer, etc first.  My children love this game.  You can also say things like "Let's see how many toys you can put in this bin in 10 seconds."  and "now let's try to beat that time."  Seriously, it works.

 4) Get rid of the distractions- Sometimes my children want a particular toy out so we have them place it in a special place.  When they're done, they can retrieve their toy. 

5) Clean up for someone (or something)- If you make clean up normally something you do before say going outside or your husband coming home or a typical playdate, you're children will naturally get more enthusiastic to clean up because they know there's some sort of reason for cleaning.  This works well for me because I can tell the kids that dad will be home soon so let's clean up for him.  Then they can wrestle with dad or tell him about their day without him having to navigate a landmine field of toys.

6) Turn on some music- Only use this one if it doesn't prove to be a distraction.  Pop in a cd of music.  Have them dance around while picking up toys.  Or turn it into a game of hot potato only with their toys going into bins. 

Now try one and see what happens.

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