Nanny 911: Get Your Kids to Clean Up
Yes, children and messes go hand in hand. But one of the ways you can raise good kids is to teach them responsibility, the first and simplest being to have them clean up after themselves. Even young toddlers can learn good cleanup habits. It's no excuse to say, "Oh, he's only 2!" If your kid can take that toy car out of the bin, he can put it back!
As with everything, parents need to be consistent about cleanup rules and not give in to the inevitable whining or tears. Saying "I'll help you just this once" creates a slippery slope.
Your challenge: Get your kids to clean up after themselves.
This means every time they take out a toy, they put it back. If they're playing blocks and suddenly reach for a puzzle, say to them, "Before we move on, let's put the blocks away, OK?" If they accidentally spill their milk at the dinner table, don't make a big deal about it. Just hand them a paper towel to wipe it up. Today, there will be no exceptions!
Here are the Nannies' Cleanup Tips:
- Make cleanup fun. Lessons about responsibility shouldn't be a drag—they should be fun! So whenever possible, turn cleanups into a game. It's not about you telling them what to do, it's more about cooperation.
- Set a timer. See if your kid can get the most toys put away by the time the bell dings. If you have two or more kids, even better! Their sense of competition will kick in almost automatically. Whoever finishes first can get a small reward!
- Customize their storage boxes. Whatever containers hold your children's toy, see if you can get them to decorate it with pictures of what's supposed to go inside. This will give them a sense of ownership and pride, and they'll be more apt to maintain them.
- Let them spray. Kids love spray bottles. So let them take their love of creating a mess by actually using it to clean! Fill up a spray bottle with Nanny's Secret Cleanser: a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved in warm water. It'll clean just about anything without ruining it, has no chemicals, and, of course, it's cheap, cheap, cheap!
So to repeat, your challenge is to have your kids clean up after themselves, all day, no matter what! Remember to make cleanup fun for them so they actually look forward to it! (Yes, it can happen!)
Happy Cleaning! (To your child, not you!)
And my question to you is: Which of your kid's messes drives you battiest? Is it the toys with all the parts? The mealtime aftermath? Laundry litter? And how did you work with your kids to clean up after themselves? Tell us what worked, what didn't! Share your tales in the comments below.
Be sure to check in with your mommy allies on the Child Behavior Message Board. Check out these other challenges:
- Challenge 1: Prepare for Meltdowns
- Challenge 2: Stop Whining and Screaming
- Challenge 3: Say "No" to Saying "No"
- Challenge 5: Reward Good Behavior
- Challenge 6: Establish House Rules
- Challenge 7: Work on Your Most Challenging Challenge
- Challenge 8: Take a Mommy or Daddy Time Out
- Challenge 9: Giving Your Kid Compliments
- Challenge 10: Acknowledge Mistakes and Move On
- Challenge 11: Say Please and Thank You
- Challenge 12: Work on This Week's Most Challenging Challenge
- Challenge 13: Pick Your Battles
- Challenge 14: Learning to Listen
- Challenge 15: Get Your Kids Talking
- Challenge 16: Keep Your Cool
- Challenge 17: Use a Timer
- Challenge 18: Give Effective Time Outs