Personalized home organization
Entrepreneur, mom, & wife
A question I get all the time is how do you stay organized with young kids? I have two children, four years old and eighteen months old. They are constantly pulling toys and snacks out and leaving them out. It is difficult to stay clean and tidy with tiny tornadoes around.
The key is getting your children in the habit of cleaning up before the next activity. When we are finished playing in the morning, I have my children clean up before lunch. It is not perfect. But the goal is for it to be cleaned up so I don’t have to clean during quiet time. When I clean up in the playroom, I put everything in the correct bins and make sure the labels look nice when I put the bins away. I try to do this about once a week to make sure everything is in the right place. This is my type A personality and not a necessary step.
When my children clean up, the goal is for all the toys to be off the floor. My four year old, Boomer, can put away toys in the correct bins. He has memorized how words look and uses the first letter to figure out what it says when he is not sure. He also sees the words a lot so knows what they say. My eighteen month old, Raleigh, cannot read or even recognize letters. But for him, I just want him to pick up the toys. He understands to put toys in bins but does not always get it into the correct bin. That’s okay! I try to take a step back and remember we are building the habit of cleaning up. So one day, he will know the expectation that we clean up before we move onto the next activity.
They did not learn to clean up on their own. I have worked with them and still do every time we clean up. With Raleigh, I am constantly saying “Raleigh clean up.” This helps keep him on task. He does enjoy cleaning up which is helpful for me!
Boomer typically has more opinions on cleaning up and “cleans up” by playing with a toy until Raleigh and I are finished. I continue to use strategies to help him stay on task with cleaning up.
Give him a choice. I ask him if he would like to clean up the trains or the blocks. If he’s into it, he’ll pick one and clean it up. One great moment the other day, he said, “Mommy, you pick up the legos and I’ll pick up the trains.” I love hearing him repeat what I say in his own way!
Pick up a certain number of items. If he is not into picking up a whole category of items, I say, “Could you pick up 10 blocks?” He will pick up that number and then ask how many next. Next I’ll ask, “Could you pick up 7 blocks?” I continue until all the blocks are picked up. He has fun practicing counting so this sometimes works. If you child is younger, keep the numbers smaller and maybe help with the counting.
If my first two strategies do not work, I hold to what I said. Boomer has learned I will wait him out so after a minute or two, he will clean up what I asked. This can take time, but it will pay off in the long run.
Getting your children in the habit of cleaning up is teaching them a life lesson as well as making your day a lot easier. When I don’t follow through and have them clean up before lunch or before dinner, I always regret it. Then, I have to use my childless time to clean up their mess!
It is not always perfect in our house, but as I continue to stress cleaning up after we are finished playing, I know eventually they will know the expectation. Then, maybe sometimes, they will clean up without my standing over them and reminding them it’s time to clean up. That is the goal!
Comment below and let me know. What are your strategies for getting your children to clean up?
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Wildely Organized 2024
Based in Houston, TX, Wildely Organized offers compassionate, professional in-home organization services that empower families to live functional lives in a space they love.
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