How To Keep A Clean House With Kids

Mar 10, 2023
How To Get Your Child To Help Pick Up

Do you struggle to get your kids to help clean up after themselves?  Does the chaos and clutter that comes with young kids have you at your wits end?  A writer from the Redfin real estate and lifestyle blog reached out to me asking for tips on how to keep a clean house with kids recently, so know that you’re not alone!  

If you are a parent that has given up on the clutter or getting your kids to help, here are five different strategies to get your kids to pitch in and help them establish the habit of keeping things picked up: 

1 - Give everything a “home”.

Kids do much better when things are very clear and they know what to do.  The concept of “cleaning up” can be confusing if they’re not sure where things go, so you want to make sure that your kids know exactly where to put things away.  This can help even little kids understand that toys and shoes go back to their homes every day and they get lonely and scared if they’re left out.

2 - Beat the timer game.

I can tell you from experience that a messy room can look extremely daunting and feel like it will take a really long time to clean up, especially to a child.  Since this was an issue for me, years ago I started the habit of telling myself that I would pick up for just 15 minutes thinking that I could do anything for 15 minutes.  To my surprise, I found out that cleaning up the room always took significantly less time than I thought it would.

So when I had kids, I’d set a timer and we’d work to get the whole room cleaned up before the timer went off.  The time varied by age going from 5 to 15 minutes.  They knew that when the timer went off they were done — so they didn’t have to deal with the “this is going to take forever” feeling, even though we almost always beat the timer.  To make it more fun, you can put music on and work to pick up before the end of a song or two.

3 - Start noticing instead of telling.

Kids tend to be more responsive and willing to help when they are solving a problem on their own instead of just being told what to do.  So instead of telling them to pick up their toys, “notice” that the toys aren’t in their home.  If the bathroom is a mess after the finger painting project, “notice” that there is paint all over the sink and cabinet.  Then wait and give them time to think through it and figure out what needs to be done.

4 - Spend a few moments appreciating the clean room.

Once things are cleaned up, sit with your child and talk about how good it feels to have everything picked up and put away.  This helps them gain the awareness of the benefits of cleaning up and associate it with a positive feeling, and if you do this consistently they will look forward to a quick snuggle with you after a clean up session.  

5 - Shift to making your home beautiful.

I invite you to consider how different it feels to start cleaning from a place of “I love making our home beautiful” instead of “we have to pick up”.  It’s so much more motivating to clean from a place of desire than from obligation, and when you combine this with awareness of the good feelings and accomplishment you feel after cleaning up you make it much easier to help your kids establish a lifelong habit of cleaning up after themselves and keeping things tidy.

These are just a few of the tips from my Confident Parenting Toolbox.  If you have parenting challenges and you’re at a loss, consider joining the Confident Parenting Club to get more tips and tools for your parenting toolbox.

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