With a little one in the house who only thinks about having fun, the house can quickly become a cluttered mess! Toys pile up in every corner and are strewn everywhere like cabbages in a vegetable patch. People might say that those with disorderly habits have higher IQs, but it is never pleasant to live in clutter. A tidy home makes everyone calm and at peace. It is more relaxing to sleep in a room that is organised. Storage systems are a good way to make children take control of the tidying process and so they can make decisions for themselves. However sometimes it can be tricky to know how to motivate a child when they need to tidy up. In this article we’ll give you some top tips.
1) Precisely define what tidying up actually means
In general unless you have a very minimalist household will you managed to have a house like you find in glossy magazines. For small children it is impossible to have a room that has not a toy in sight. It is just not realistic! Therefore you need to define to your child what tidying means and what is precisely expected of them. Examples of this could be clear away anything that is lying around on the floor, food in your bedroom, dirty clothes at the bottom of the bed etc…
2) So that they can tidy up their mess the job needs to be suitable
Of course you need to adapt cleaning up chores to the size and capabilities of your child so that they are accessible. However you also need to give adapted pieces of advice according to their age. Make sure that you give simple and precise tasks to younger kids and as they get older you can make their chores slightly more complicated.
- From the age of one year old you can show your child what it means to tidy things away. In general, showing someone a good example can help to ingrain this idea in the future.
- From the age of two year old, you can start to give them choices like “would you prefer to clear away the dolls or the books?”
- At the age of three you can ask for their help, “I am going to tidy away the cars and you are going to tidy away the books, or would you prefer cars?”
- For four year old children you can give them a piece of advice at the same time such as first you tidy away the books and then you clear away something else.
3) Get them used to the idea tidying one item away before taking another item out
First of all, you can your child used to playing with only toy before they can play with a new one. This system means that there will be less to clear away at the end and less toys will at the bottom of dusty drawers. Your child will also feel more motivated to clear away toys as only then can they pull out another on to play with!
4) Don’t take them by surprise!
Give your child at least 15 to 30 minutes advanced warning so that they know they need to tidy away their toys if they want to be able to do the next activity. This way they will have enough time to organise themselves instead of being surprised by this order in the middle of a fun game that they need to stop abruptly. It can be difficult to accept if they feel like their fun has been cut short. You can also introduce a tidying away routine. For example one day in the week when you do a big tidy or you give them five or ten minutes before lunch or going to bed at night.
5) Invest in good storage systems
Often a child likes to make decisions for themselves and that also applies to tidying away toys! You can easily let them decide which organisation boxes they prefer. They can also make drawings for each box that can correspond to the toys they have and then they can decide what to put in them. Often they like to organise things on their own rather than being told what to do. If doesn’t matter if it is not perfect it just need to organised and accessible. If the ponies are mixed in with the dolls and the books don’t make the perfect pile, it isn’t the end of the world. Letting your children decide for themselves is better than you constantly getting on at them about tidying!
6) Make you child associate tidying up as a fun game
Sometimes you don’t need much to make tidying up more fun. For example, the simply putting on some music while you clean can help or making it into a race can make this chore seem more fun. What is more you can have a competition with you children to see who can tidy away things the quickest. You can give your child the cubes while you tidy away the cars other the other way around (you can let them decide). However you should try and avoid using this technique between siblings so that rivalries don’t occur. Nonetheless, this can depend on their age and their character. Otherwise you can give them an assigned time to do the task like the time of song. You can then count in a loud voice the last few seconds!
Other ways that you can make tidying up fun:
- Put you cuddly toys and dolls to bed so you can say good night.
- Pretend that you work in a garage and that you are parking the cars in the garage.
- For very small children they love to associate toys by shape and colour. You can get them to gather all the square, round or red objects on the floor.
- You can perhaps spice it up a bit by adding an extra challenge: only tidying things away using the right hand, the fastest possible, hopping etc.. Be careful this good end up making more of a mess depending on how you manage it.
- Get your children to do a treasure hunt with the toys you need to find. The more organised the room the easier the game will be… This is a good lesson to explain to children the imporatnce of being well organised!