Our house gets messy, I need my kids to help out, but sometimes (okay, more like most of the time:) ) they just do not want to! Making the mess is one thing, cleaning it up is another! I cannot stand the constant fights I have trying to get them to take some responsibility for their messes. My oldest is 7 and lately her most common opinion is that I am only here in her life to boss her around! I feel strongly that my kids need to learn to work and clean and help out in our home. We are a family, and we are a team. Working together is important. Everyone in the household needs to feel a responsibility for the state of our house. But the question is, how to accomplish this? How do I get my kids to want to help out? How do I get cleaning and tidying the house to not be such a dreadful event?
So, I went on the hunt for some solutions to my problem. There had to be a better way than just putting them in their rooms while they scream and cry until they finally give in and just clean their toys up. After some reading I discovered it all comes down to fun, making things FUN! I just had to remember that they are children and they don’t care if their rooms are clean! But….they do care about having fun and they do like spending time with mom and dad. So, cleaning games, that is the solution! Just making chores into a game can change everything. It does take a little more effort on my part, but effort well spent I say. I would rather spend the energy prepping for our cleaning games, then to exert the energy fighting them to finish their chores.
Isn’t part of life finding the motivation for those things that we don’t like to do but must be done. What motivates my kids is very different from what motivates me! I just needed to look at it from their perspective.
Why would they want to clean up and tear down these great objects of play they have scattered all over the house? They just needed to have a reason that made sense to them, an incentive that enticed them! Fun and treats, that’s pretty much what it comes down to. Here are some things that are working pretty well for us:
Put it to Music– little kids love to sing. Actually so do I, a good song will liven up any chore. I know I clean better with earphones and a hot beat blasting in my ears. We sing the song “clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere, clean up, clean up, everybody do your share.” and sometimes we throw on Kidz bopz and blast away and dance and clean. The more upbeat the tempo the better as far as we are concerned!
Competition: Doesn’t everyone love a little competition? Sometimes we play where we race each other. For example I will set a timer and see who can pick up the most toys before it goes off. Or since I hate cleaning baseboards, I give them each a rag and start them at two different walls in the same room and say GO, who ever wipes the baseboards and reaches the other side of the room first gets a small prize. The bonus of this game is that there are lots of walls with lots of dirty baseboards. That way we can keep racing and they can all win prizes a few times. Sometimes we race ourselves and see if we can each clean our assigned room or stack of toys in a certain amount of time and then we all get a treat, maybe ice cream together.
Search and Find: When the girls playroom or their bedrooms get particularly messy I will hide little treats (like tiny little tootsie rolls, or pieces of gum) around the messy room and as they clean they will find the items and they get to eat them! Hidden treats are a great incentive.
Just remember that even though these games require a bit of planning, energy and effort on your part I believe it is totally worth it. When we all work together and take responsibility for the messes of the house then everyone feels they belong. I want my kiddos to feel a part of the family and have a sense of belonging and importance and self confidence. Is seems silly but I have read that chores are important for kids, and that they help them at a young age to start developing work habits and habits of cleanliness that will stick with them all their lives.
So get creative, these little ideas of mine are just a jumping off point. I would love to hear what you do in your homes to encourage your children to clean. I am always looking for new ideas!!
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