Monday, May 21, 2018

How We Get Our Kids to Clean and What Hasn't Worked

It's almost summer. J gets out of school this week! And with summer coming I feel a much bigger stress about keeping the house clean since everyone is home. Every summer I get this new drive to teach the kids about cleaning and keeping their stuff organized, giving them chores, getting them to help with new chores etc. And it's not an easy thing to do. We have tried lots of different ways to get them to clean up. Since summer is coming and some of you might be like me this way (I hope), I thought I'd talk about all the ways we've tried, what has worked and what has not.

Before we get into all of that, I want to just take a second to say that our house is by no means clean all of the time. We have a lot of days that we get to the end of the day and I just don't have enough energy to care that it's messy and we let the mess stay instead of cleaning it up.  We also have normal kids who do normal kid things and don't honestly love to clean. In fact, the day I took the pictures for this post we had one avoiding the cleaning at all costs, one that had no idea what was going on (V) and one that was throwing a major tantrum because we asked her to clean. And it's not like we asked them on a random day to clean, it was a cleaning day. It's a struggle to get them to clean and that's why I decided to share what isn't working for us along with what is working. So here are the things that we have been trying.

- Starting them young is one thing that I think helps with everything. When they are toddlers they are much more willing to help clean up with you. Getting them in the habit of cleaning up when they are done with something helps them learn it for a lifetime. Do they always stay excited about cleaning up and do it willingly? Nope, absolutely not. But it does help with teaching them that it's important to keep things nice. Did it work? Well, kinda. I did well with this with J, I failed at this with M, I'm working on this with V. Guess which kid complains least about cleaning up? V....but he doesn't really know better haha, so J. J will usually clean up her toys without too much of a fight. It takes me asking them several times to get anything done, but J will clean up most of the time without a huge fight whereas M will pitch a fit every single time.



- We tried a chore chart a couple of months ago. We got an Ipad for Christmas. Before that, we were tablet free and didn't plan on getting one at all because we didn't want to have to worry about the kids begging to be on it or being on it too much. We ended up getting one for church stuff and figured we could use it as leverage for the kids to do their chores and earn 15 minutes of screen time. So I made this chore chart for them to earn it. We filled it up with age-appropriate chores. Making their bed, getting dressed, doing homework, hanging backpacks up, doing a special job for me that I need help with, etc. Once they got all of their things marked off for the day, they could have 15 minutes on the Ipad. Did it work? NOPE. not at all. It worked for one week and then never worked again. I'm sure bribing them with something else would have helped, but my kids are not at all interested in earning iPad time (I'm proud to say). They never even ask to use it. We pull it out for our church stuff, and for special things like when we need to entertain V while getting a haircut, but they don't even care about it.

-Helping them is another thing that we've tried. When we know that the mess has gotten too big we have put some music on and see how much we can get done by the time the music is over. We usually turn on some kind of soundtrack. Right now it's The Greatest Showman soundtrack.  And we all pitch in and clean up. This works mostly. The times when this does not work is when I've spent a lot of time asking them to clean up and they are feeling overwhelmed and I'm feeling frustrated. When that happens we end up fighting more than cleaning. But if I start cleaning this way, before the overwhelmed feeling starts, we can all work together and get it done pretty easily.



- We have turned cleaning into a game. We do this a lot of different ways. One way is to tell each kid to pick up a certain color of toy. J picks up all red, M picks up all green, V picks up all blue... and puts it where it's supposed to go.  Another game is that we hang our little over the door basketball hoop up and tell them "see how many toys you can pick up in the time that it takes the other to make 10 baskets." and then they switch.  We've also made it a race to see who can put their clothes away, make their beds, or put their toys away first. Does it work? Almost every time! Sometimes J gets tired of competition and this won't work. But that's pretty rare. It sometimes takes longer to get it all clean but it gets done.

- We have been teaching the kids about money and letting them earn a little extra money with "jobs". But they can't do any of those jobs until all of their regular chores are done.  So if they are in the mood to earn a little money to save up for something they've been wanting, I just remind them that they want to earn money for a job, they need to do their chores first. This works when they are in the mood for it. And that's totally fine. Now that it's summer and we have a garden going, one of their jobs is to help with picking the fruit and veggies from the little garden, so that will help them to be ready for those jobs more often.

- Reminding them that they have privileges and sometimes those privileges get taken away if they don't do what we have asked them to.  This one makes me feel a little bit like a bad mom sometimes, and I don't think that I'm alone on that, but kids do need to know that some things are not rights that they have.   When we have been asking them to do something and they are refusing in every way, we start taking those privileges away. One example of this is that if they want to play with friends after dinner they have to have homework done and their room cleaned up before they can go back out. If they don't have those things done, they don't get to go play. This is a hard way of doing things and it's honestly exhausting for all people involved. But it does work. The first few times that they realize that they can't go out and play there's usually a big fight and a lot of crying. But eventually it does get cleaned and the crying stops and they learn that next time if they want to play they need to do it before it's too late.


Everybody's family is different. There are different things that work for all of us. Not everything we have tried has worked every time. And the biggest take away here is that if we try to make any kind of chores a fun or, at least, happy experience things get done quicker and easier.


What do you do to help your kids clean up?

What is your least favorite chore?

16 comments:

  1. Gosh, I think we tried all of these at one or another when our kids were little. I'm not a type-A person, but I do get frustrated when things don't get done in a timely fashion. Many times (still to this day), I just end up doing things myself so I know they will get done (and I will know where to find everything). Bottom line, I think, with any system is consistency. Consistent methods, consistent rewards, and consistent consequences...and that all adds to the stress of the one enforcing everything.

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    1. Being consistent really is the biggest thing! And somedays the fight is just not worth it haha. There have definitely been days that I either decide to just do it myself or live with the mess. But we do try to be consistent. Have a great day Kimberly!

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  2. Getting kids to do chores is hard sometimes! For us we talked to them as it's something we all contribute to as a family we all have chose to contribute that make our house a place we want to spend our time in and together. Don't get me wrong, saying that to my daughter's doesn't always work.

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  3. I remember this stage too well! Now with my youngest rapidly approaching the teen years it isn't about toys anymore but they can tend to leave their stuff (clothes, backpacks) everywhere. Let's just say we pick our battles.

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    1. Picking your battles is basically life as a parent haha! Have a fantastic day Teamearica

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  4. I think turning cleaning into a game is a great idea!

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  5. Oh my gosh I so remember going through this with my boys when they were younger. It's important to instill in them early the need to contribute to the household.

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  6. My kids are older and sometimes quite lazy. When my husband gets on to them it seems to have more of an effect on them! Lol.

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  7. My kids are teens now so a whole other story! I do remember the days of toys everywhere though. Not sure what we used to do

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  8. I don't have any answers here. I'm with Marcia, pick your battles. My oldest son is neat as a pin but my youngest is the hugest slob. He's going to college in the fall and I pity his roommate! I will say that I'm so glad we didn't have all the technology when they were little that we have now. We wouldn't let them use their Nintendo DS (that's what they had back then) except in the car and sometimes at home. Never when we were out to eat or at a gathering. Glad to hear your kids aren't interested either!

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  9. Mine are 19 and 21 now and luckily we are over that hump for the most part! I say take whatever means necessary short of letting cleaning take over your well-being! I wish you the best and surprisingly some days I actually miss those messes!

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  10. I loathe emptying the dishwasher and anything related to laundry. But it has to get done, so we do it.

    Our 10 year old so is fairly helpful. He makes his bed, sets and clears the table, loads the dishwasher and puts away his laundry. Yesterday, he and his buddies took it upon themselves to wash our cars, so I guess that counts as something else they can do to help out :)

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    1. Agreed, dishes and laundry are the WORST! Probably because it seems like it's never done. Have a great day Jennifer

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  11. What a great way to teach your kids some responsibility while sneaking some lessons about the value of a dollar in there ;)

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  12. I love that your kids aren't addicted to screen time. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.

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