How to get kids to pick up after themselves

How To Get Kids To Pick Up After Themselves

With Christmas right around the corner, most households are about to see an influx in toys and “stuff” coming into their homes. As children tear open their gifts and enjoy all of their exciting new trinkets, it is easy for disorder to ensure. Toys get left strewn about the house and once organized spaces fall into the post-Christmas chaos. So let’s make a game plan before we’re in the thick of it!

Tips to help kids cleanup after themselves:

  1. Declutter excess toys. If you’re overwhelmed with the amount of toys and items your kids have, they are too!
  2. Make their items easy to put away. Everything should have a home or designated spot.
  3. Set a timer for clean-up. This makes the cleaning up feel more controlled and manageable if they know it won’t take forever.
  4. Make cleaning and decluttering a routine.

The first step is to eliminate the excess before more toys come in. This is a great habit to start before any major holiday or birthday. Go through your kids’ toys and pull out anything that is broken, missing parts, grungy, duplicates, or no longer played with. If you’re unsure about whether your child will miss an item, place it in a hidden spot somewhere out of sight to your child. If they don’t ask for it after a few months, toss it.

When new items come into the home, it is essential that you create a designated home for the new toy. Generally children know where their toys go. They’ve cleaned up enough times to memorize where their things are kept. When a new item is brought into the mix, children often are unable to make logical decisions on where the new item should go. Walk your child through the process of putting their new toy away so they can learn how to do it themselves going forward.

Kids like routine; they want familiarities and knowing what to expect. Same goes for their spaces in their home. Kids want to be able to find their toys easily. They can get overwhelmed and anxious if their space takes more than 20-30 minutes to clean up. Setting a timer and making cleanup a frequent and familiar routine can help to eliminate the power struggle and meltdowns that stem from being overwhelmed. Encourage your children to clean up before transitioning to a new activity. Perhaps everyone spends 5 min cleaning up before sitting down for lunch. Or before TV/ipad time. Cleaning up before a positive activity can also motivate a child to put things away quickly because they are eager for what’s coming up next. And make it fun! Play some music and dance as you tidy.  Or assign “points” to each item on the floor and let your kids see how many points they can earn!

Once you create a system for your kids and make a home for every item they own, cleaning up will take half the time. Play time will become about having fun and getting creative, rather than feeling frustrated over trying to locate toys that weren’t put away correctly. It’s important to create habits around the systems you have made. Establishing sustainable routines will help children take ownership of their space, empower them to be responsible for their things, and create a positive and peaceful home.

Emily Grindell
Emily Grindell

Mar 18, 2024 • 3 mins read