Go Clean your Room
I expect my children to tidy their own bedroom and playroom. They've been helping clean up since they were old enough to walk. By the time they were 2 years old, they were doing a pretty good job and by 3 years old, I was feeling really good about the wonderful little cleaners they had become. My children are 4 years old now and although they have the ability to do a good job, I've noticed that they haven't been very motivated to pick up and organize their belongings lately. I will tell them to clean up and when I check in on them 10 minutes later, not only has the cleaning process not started but their room is often more of a mess. Sometimes the room will appear clean but when I look under the bed or in the closet, I discover the short-cuts. I guess I've gotten a little spoiled because they used to clean up so well and they actually enjoyed it. I knew that might change someday but I didn't expect it to be now. When I was teaching preschool outside the home, I was more creative with motivating my students to clean up and also gave more specific directions. Lately, I've simply been telling my own kids to "go clean your room" and then feel frustrated when they don't. I think in addition to getting distracted, they often get overwhelmed by their messes. Although we have a good organization system and everything has a place, it can be daunting to put everything in it's place when it's all been dumped on the floor.
I realized that I needed to come up with some new ways to motivate my kids instead of just feeling frustrated with their cleaning set-backs. I've tried a variety of things. I give them advance warning before clean-up time. I've tried to make it more fun by playing music to see if they can clean up before the song ends. I've tried setting a timer to see if they can race to beat the time. I've sent one to the bedroom and one to the playroom and challenged them to a race. Sometimes we sing a special clean-up song together. I make sure to give them positive reinforcement. I've also had to play the role of the "mean mommy"and bagged up all of the toys that were left on the floor. All of these methods work some of the time but it seems that the only sure bet at our house these days is to be very specific about what they need to do to help them stay on task. Today I sat on the floor in their bedroom and gave specific step by step instructions such as telling one child to pick up all of the dress up clothes and put them in the treasure chest while the other child picked up all of the ponies and put them in the pony basket. Next, books on the bookshelf and then stuffed animals in the animal basket. As soon as each task was complete, I would give another job. They didn't complain or whine and actually stayed on task (I'm sure it helped that I was sitting there watching). I didn't do any of the tidying and before they knew it, the whole room was clean.
Do your children have a hard time tidying their room or do they enjoy it? Do you have to get creative or help motivate them to get them to pick up their toys? Do you use a job chart?
Leave a comment or send me an email to share what works at your house or school. I would love to read some of your ideas.