10 tips to get your children pick up after themselves

KidsHelpPickUp I am a lazy parent, especially, when it comes to house chores. Give me any type of cooking, outdoor activity, physical exercise, arts and crafts or DIY projects or visiting museums and gardens, I’ll get to it right away. I’ll wake up at 5, I’ll stay up late. However, when it comes to tidying up the house, especially the mess caused by two Tasmanian devils at home, I cringe.

Since they are little, I have them pick up their own things themselves. My daughter complies dutifully and seems enjoy it. Especially, if her friends are coming for a play date, she’ll wake up early and do it before being told to do so. My son on the other hand, has my genes and he makes everyone know that he physically suffers from tidying up.

Here are my tips and tricks to get your children help pick up after themselves:

  1. ORGANIZE: For an easy pick-up process, for both adults and kids, you should initially organize everything yourself, so that every single item, toy, cloth, sock or a crayon has a designated space, a shelf, drawer or a bin etc. that can be easily reached by your child. Label them with words or pictures if possible. This is also known as 5S in “lean” workplace environment to improve productivity. It stands for {“sort”, “straighten”, “shine”, “standardize”, and “sustain”}.
  2. BE PROACTIVE: The most practical way to keep your house organized is to get your children (and yourself) used to putting away their stuff after they use them or play with them right away. This would be the perfect world if it only worked at our home. It only works at school. For years, I’ve attempted several times to implement it. It lasted for a day or two. I could never get it to work continuously.
  3. GIVE NOTICE: With children, mental preparation is the key to avoid resistance. Designate a set clean up time and give advance notice as you are getting closer to it. It would be recommended to place clean up time after a not-so-exciting activity and before a very-exciting activity which will motivate your children to get it done quickly.
  4. MAKE A ROUTINE: Make tidying up a routine if possible. If you can, do it on the same day and around the same time of the day. We usually try to get our major pick-up, the day before the cleaning lady comes. I tell them everything has to go into their designated place, otherwise cleaning lady might put them somewhere they cannot find or just throw it away.
  5. PROVIDE TASK LIST: This is my ultimate key to success. When it’s tidy up time, make a specific task list for each child. Children will get overwhelmed when you shown them their mess in a room and tidy it up. Even I get overwhelmed when I look at my house the day before a guest comes. When you give them a list of tasks one by one, you’ll make it easier for them to complete each task and build on their accomplishments to finish the whole tidy up. You can create picture lists for younger children. I just look around and create a list on a notepad for mine, who are 9 and almost 7. I personally survive on to do lists as well.
  6. GET YOUR GROOVE ON: You can sing “clean up song” with younger kids. It is such a Pavlov’s trick that used to work magic for us for years. For older kids, put on kid-safe, energizing songs and turn up the volume. I turn on Pandora’s Kidz BOP or Disney Stations.
  7. CREATE GAMES AND CHARACTERS: You can create fun games such as detective or treasure hunting with younger children. I do not use and never encourage competition games among siblings.  It will always cause disappointment and frustration for one side. You can also read books about picking up and being organized to your children, and use the characters or stories to have fun during clean-up. We have a book called “How cleaning my room changed my life” that we have been reading this for the last 2 years. There is a vacuum cleaner called Victor which eats up everything it finds on the floor. We use that character a lot.
  8. HELP ALONG: Help along to show them you are in this together. You are sharing the suffering. You will come through this together. It’s also good to be an example. It doesn’t help to reveal them you don’t like clean up. This is one of my weaknesses. Even though I don’t grumble or moan like my son, I definitely don’t show any signs of joy.
  9. HAVE CONSEQUENCES: Let the consequences of not tidying up be known to your children in advance. They should preferably be non-punishment style consequences. My example consequences, I tell my children, if they do not pick up are:
    1. They’ll have to wear their dirty clothes over and over.
    2. I will not help them if they lose their stuff in that pit of Armageddon.
    3. I will not be responsible for any belongings that might be vacuumed or trashed by cleaning lady.
    4. They will not be able to invite their friends to a messy house.
    5. I will not help them when they need me for something else because they did not help us pick up and I need to pick up their slack.
  10. CELEBRATE AND ENJOY: Hug and kiss them when they are done. Enjoy the bliss of a tidy and organized home with your family. Sit down, extend your legs and celebrate with a cup of hot tea, hot chocolate or ice tea.

I prefer not to reward my children with money for tidying up or any other house chores.

Do you have any special tips or tricks in your house to get your kids keep tidy and pick after themselves?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>