8 Tried-and-True Tricks Moms Use to Get Their Kids to Clean Up

8 Tried-and-True Tricks Moms Use to Get Their Kids to Clean Up

Moms share their methods for teaching kids to help clean up their messes.


By: Lorraine Allen

It’s no secret that many moms are constantly picking up their kids’ messes. Whether we’re talking on the phone with a long-lost best friend, trying to eat a quick breakfast on our way to work, or even headed to the toilet, it seems moms cannot do anything or go anywhere without automatically stooping to pick up a million items forgotten, flung, or dropped by our kids. Here, eight moms share their tricks to getting their kids to help clean up.

1. “I learned in a mommy-and-me class to sing a song that literally goes: ‘Everybody clean up, clean up, clean up, everybody clean up all the toys.’ I guess because little kids respond well to music, they automatically started singing along and then doing as the teacher, and the song, said. I’ve been using this at home all through my twins’ toddlerhood and it works great, most of the time.”

2. One mom with three tween and teenaged kids is more firm. “I can’t pick up after them anymore all the time. They know my rule: If it’s on the floor and in the way, it’s going to charity. They are old enough to know to take care of things.”

3. “My babe is a bit too little to really understand the concept yet, but I try to make it a game by having her help me gently toss things in bins and drawers or pile books on a table at the end of the day.”

4. Another mom makes it a fun game for her kids, in second and fourth grades, by timing them. If they do a good job before the timer goes off (which she sets anywhere from two to eight minutes), she’ll give them a special snack or dessert, like ice cream. “It’s amazing how fast they can clean if they want to and how much can be put away in just minutes!” she says.

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5. “My kids cannot leave a room or go do anything else until things are picked up. I have had back surgery twice, and there is just literally no way I can do it for them,” says a mom of four.

6. “I have a simple method, when things get out of hand,” says a mom who is also a preschool teacher. “I whistle really loudly, which kids don’t seem to like, and they know this means they need to stop whatever they are doing and pick up the mess.”

7. “I always clean up with them. I find that my kids prefer to help me than to just feel like I’m asking them to do housework.”

8. A mom of a 7-year-old tries to make it a fun challenge. “We have very limited space, so it’s like a puzzle fitting things back on shelves and in our few cabinets when all the toys have been pulled out. It’s fun and tricky, and I help sometimes. And my kid knows that if we can’t fit it all, we need to get rid of something.”

How do you get your kids to help clean up their messes?



Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 5-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

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