We are drowning in cars in our house.  I step on them, pull them out from between sofa cushions, and even hear them spinning in the washer (oops!).  After tripping over and complaining about messes--specifically toys--in our house, I've been wondering when parents should start teaching kids about cleaning up.
I figured it was time when the chief mess-maker in the house enjoys announcing "I made a mess!" 

So over the past few weeks I've been slowly guiding Soren in cleaning up his messes.  It works best to pick up things with him, rather than just telling him to do it.  Especially if I turn it into a game, then he really cleans up with gusto, getting all the items into the basket as quickly as possible.
So far, so good, though as most parenting lessons and tasks, it takes time and attention.  While it might take me a few minutes to pick up the toys, it takes longer when making it learning opportunity.

What tips do you have for teaching your children to clean up?  When did you start teaching it? Do you have your kids do it right after playing or do you do it all at the end of the day?


Cindy said...

Its different for girls and boys. Most boys don't care if things are messy (even as men).

What I did: when they were little I would give them a few days of playing before I told them to go clean their room. I would give them a few hours and told them whatever was laying around when time was up was getting tossed out. I get a big garbage bag and start tossing things in it. Boy do they get upset and very hard to do for a parent the first time. I wouldn't toss the things out. I made them earn them back and the things they don't want to earn back gets donated. If grandma would only stop buying them things they wouldn't have so much to make a mess with :) I've always made them keep the common area (the part the whole family uses in the house) picked up after they finish with something but their rooms I give them a little more leeway.

Have a great hump day .. time to go teach :)

czstout said...

Our daughter is 2 and we started her on cleaning up her own messes when she was old enough to make them :) We would play with stacking rings or babies, and help her clean. Now that she's 2 she cleans on her own and won't move onto the next thing till the 1st is put away. We may have a little OCD happening in her :) Either way, it makes for a nice clean home!

There are times when we have play food all over the living room, every puzzle and it's pieces on the floor, crayons in all the pages of every coloring book, but we work with her and get it picked up!

I'm a big believer in "clean up your own mess". So far it's working great!! Good Luck :)

Braley Mama said...

Our rule is if you want another toy out, we must put away the current toy.(Most of the time:O)
I think about 18 months I started singing the cleanup song(from Barney) and showing her how to do it with me. She still needs help sometimes, or encouragement. Sinclair is almost three and she is finally understanding the concept fully:O) But my just turned one year old watches and helps, I think the second kid wants to be like the older and does things faster!!!! Good luck!

laura said...

My daughter (19 mo) has really gone full blown into the mess making over the last month or so. She LOVES to climb into one of the bins with her toys and throw everything out one by one.
Over the course of the day I never clean it up completely because I know she'll go back to it as soon as I do. I try to keep it under control during the day and then before bedtime I do the major clean up. Most of the time when she sees me doing it she will throw some things in too.
On the other hand, she is very good about remembering where something came from and will put it back if I ask.

Amy said...

My two love to play, but loath the clean up! I have found imitation and music work best. I turn on some music and sometimes will use a large basket to gather things in. The music helps us all enjoy the work a little more. (Laurie Berkner has a great clean up song) Because mine are only 2 and 4 yrs. they still need a someone to imitate and lead the way.

Muthering Heights said...

I try to teach my kids to clean upp, but it's been hard...my oldest is able to understand that she should put one toy away before moving on to the next, but the younger ones don't! The poor girl probably thinks I'm picking on her all the time! LOL!

TheEclecticElement said...

I think just the fact that your taking the time to clean up WITH him while making it somewhat of a game makes it more enjoyable FOR him when it comes to that 'clean up' time.

I really can't think of anything else to tell you!

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