If you’ve been a parent for a while, you know the struggle is real when it comes to getting your kids to help clean up toys! I am definitely guilty of both yelling and bribing my kids to clean up on several occasions.
Of course you don’t start off yelling…. you ask nicely the first time.
They might put one or two things away, but then they start playing again.
You calmly remind them that they are supposed to be cleaning. You’re not going to yell… you got this right?
One child starts (reluctantly) picking up toys while the other completely ignores you. Then you hear “Heeee’s noooot heeeelping!” in the whiniest of voices.
Does this sound familiar? Or is this just my house?
You start to get frustrated and raise your voice a little.
It carries on this way until you have finally had enough! You start yelling in hopes that somebody will just listen already!!
Stop the madness!!
I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking about it!
I have a few tricks up my sleeve that have made cleaning up a lot more fun, and has helped my kids learn to clean up all by themselves.
How do I get my kids to clean up their toys by themselves?
Turn it into a game!
Make cleaning up into a game. Here are a few super simple games that you can play to get your kids to clean up toys without you having to raise a finger (or your voice). These games work especially well when you have a huge mess and don’t know where to start.
Game #1: Colour Coding
You call out a colour and they have to find all the toys that are that colour and put them away. They get to learn their colours AND clean! Win-win!
Game #2: Item Sorting
You say a specific type of item (lego, dolls, blocks etc) and they have to pick up all of those items. If you have more than one kid you can turn it into a competition to see who can pick up the most.
Game #3: Beat the Timer
Set a timer and have the kids race to clean up before the time is up. This one works well with smaller messes. I will sometimes have a special prize for the winner. Okay… sometimes I bribe them, but there’s gotta be a reward every now and then right? But most of the time their prize is a high five from me! 😀
We’ve also played this one before bedtime and if they clean up fast enough then they will have enough time for an extra story. If they are too slow then it’s straight to bed. That’s usually a good enough incentive for them to get cleaning.
Game #4: Count as you Clean
We play this game the most often because it is the least amount of effort from me ;). I give them a number and they have to pick up that number of toys. They usually race to see who can pick up 10 things the fastest… everything is more fun when it’s a race!
Game #5: Toy Toss
We usually only play this one with stuffed animals or soft toys, otherwise you will end up with a bigger mess than you started with. We take turns tossing the toys into the toy box. For older kids you can give points for furthest throw, throwing backwards, or doing a special trick throw. This is the game we play the least, but it’s definitely the one they get most excited about.
I hope these games are helpful in getting your kids to clean up by themselves. What tips do you have for encouraging your kids to help clean up? Leave your ideas in the comments below.
Why oh why have I not thought of these before?! I think my son would love the colour coding one and against the timer. He loves a challenge! Thanks so much for sharing!
Love these great ideas, getting the kids to help in the clean up is a struggle for us. I m going to be trying these out.
Jessi Hayward says
I love this! My girls are 3 and almost 5. My 3-year-old is the one who needs the most *ahem* encouragement to help with the clean-up effort. She would love the counting game! I’m totally trying this tonight before bedtime 🙂
My kids are just a year older than yours. I hope these ideas help! Good luck! Haha!
Such a great idea! My son is almost two so if I turn it into a game or a song, he loves it!
Ya we definitely did songs when our kids were that age too! Songs work for everything ?
Great post! Games and Songs do wonders for us to help them clean up!
Yes, I remember those years… Turning cleaning into a game always worked. I really like the colour coding idea. Great tips 🙂
Great tips … I need all of these …