While I’m off riding the Tilt-A-Whirl and eating candy apples on the midway at the Exhibition, my good friend Sharon Hurley Hall has kindly offered to share a piece of her practical parenting wisdom. Sharon manages to balance a busy freelance career with busy motherhood — and last time I checked, she still wasn’t locked up in a padded room — so you can see that the woman knows whereof she speaks! ~ Jen
How To Get Your Kids To Tidy Up Without Going Insane
Clean up your room – NOW!
If you don’t want to scream that at your kids every day then you need to make cleaning up fun. There are lots of ways that you can help your children to enjoy the tidying up process, restoring both your living space and your sanity. There are a couple of things you will need first, though.
Consider getting some clear plastic bins for toy storage. These aren’t very exciting, so get your kids to help to decorate them with stickers, paint or whatever you dare to use. Decide what type of toy is going into each box and get your kids to draw a picture which represents those toys. Stick it onto the visible face of the box so that even when friends come to play, everyone will know where things go when it’s time to tidy up. Your kids will feel better about the process too, as they will be using something that they have created.
If your house has enough space, consider combining tidying up with a throwing game (non breakable toys only, obviously). I did this the other day with my daughter and two friends. We took the box which holds her plastic blocks, placed it in the centre of the room and took turns throwing blocks into it to score points. We had a great time, and all the blocks were off the floor without me having to mention the words ‘clean up.’
Another option at clean up time is to make it into a competition. You’ve got all those toy containers to be filled. Use a kitchen timer to see how many toys the kids can get in the right box before the timer goes off. You can do this a few times before the thrill wears off. And you can offer an extra incentive such as a sticker as a prize for winning the overall competition.
Sharing The Chores
Children will clean up more readily if you help, too. I always ask my daughter which type of toy she will clean up and say which kind I will clean up. So if she offers to tidy away the dolls, then I might put away the play food. I don’t have to put it away quickly, but I do need to do enough so that she knows that I’m taking part.
Choose Your Time
There’s nothing like scheduling clean-up before a favourite television program to make sure that it’s done quickly. That system also works if you are planning an outing and want the room tidy before you leave. (Sneaky, isn’t it?)
Offer A Reward
We all need an incentive now and then, and kids are no exception. Offering a treat such as an extra 10 minutes of television, or a favourite activity the next day can help to sweeten the deal – and their mood. Best of all, it will help get things tidy before you need to scream.