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Old 11-04-2012, 09:15 PM   #1
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Getting kids to clean

So, what are the best ways to inspire your kids to be helpful around the house?
I have really struggled with getting them to help, sometimes they flat out refuse or they have to be constantly asked and guided through every single item. I have hesitated to use rewards because I don't feel like it is something extra or a favor they are doing for me, I feel like it should be expected.
I've tried talking to them about how much faster cleaning goes when we all work together and how good it feels to be a part of a team but it doesnt seem to motivate them. Sometimes I put toys away in the garage if they won't clean them up, or get rid of them but they don't seem to care. They are 7 and 4. Am I expecting too much?
I have another baby due any day now and with 3 kids making messes it is just too much for me to handle by myself. It is a mathematical impossibility for me to keep things nice alone. But sometimes it feels like the stress and effort that it takes to get them to help is more difficult than just doing it myself. Plus I usually get frustrated after asking over and over again and ogre mommy makes an appearance and then I just feel bad about myself.
Any suggestions?
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Old 11-05-2012, 06:11 AM   #2
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Re: Getting kids to clean

It's hard for us too. I have certain things that aren't rewarded (like picking up) and some extra chores that are rewarded (cleaning the floor, dusting...). We have 2 easy daily chores that they don't need help with. When we do pick up I still have to give very specific instructions (pick up all the Legos and put them in the bin). I've recently been thinking about making cards for things they commonly need to pick up. My one ds in particular does better with visuals. For my younger ds I have pics on the outside of his particular toy bins to help him know what goes where.
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Old 11-05-2012, 06:31 AM   #3
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Re: Getting kids to clean

I make it fun when i need deep cleaning done. I write down all the chores on slips of paper and put them in a bag or box; one by one we take turns pulling out a chore to do. I play fun music to motivate us. When we are all done we go to the park or something. For every day stuff I don't have any advice. My kids know that if we don't clean we don't get to do anything else. They know how I get LOL.
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Old 11-05-2012, 09:24 PM   #4
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Re: Getting kids to clean

I don't do is just part of living in our house. I started when they were girls are 20 months and 5 now, and both are pretty helpful. We turn on music, and I give very specific instructions. Handing the baby an item and telling her where it goes. My 5 year old can do a LOT by herself now. Consistency is key! I am kinda no-nonsense when it comes to cleaning. No fun stuff happens until it gets done. Not helping isn't an option. Maybe that makes me mean, but I have seen too many kids (now adults) who weren't taught to clean as children and have no idea how to do it now that they live on their own.

ETA if my 5 year old shows initiative and cleans without being asked or does a ton of work without griping, I will occasionally pay her or reward her in some way. It is never expected though. She is really a good-hearted kid who loves to help, so not giving her rewards a lot is more an issue for me than anything else. Lol.

Last edited by Hopper Graphics; 11-05-2012 at 09:27 PM.
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Old 11-05-2012, 10:47 PM   #5
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Re: Getting kids to clean

Picking up is just hard. DD "should" be able to do it, but she gets distracted way too easily. I've tried "You can't come out of your room til this is clean" but she is in there for hours happy as a clam and no picking up happens.

You have to give my kiddos a VERY direct task and stay and watch them do it. Like..."Put the Mr. Potato Head pieces in the bucket." No, put the dolly down. Just pick up the Potato Head.

Sometimes we have a clean up dance party. I put on silly music, and we all pick up the blocks while dancing, then we all put the play food away, then we all pick up the cars, etc. It is a group effort, but we have to do one thing at a time or they get distracted.
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Old 11-06-2012, 12:55 AM   #6
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We pick a time twice a day to clean.

Usually after lunch and from 7-8. We clean, brush teeth, do jammies.

We try fun games. Like try to clean in 100 seconds, clean for a piece of candy or a treat etc.

But I found that doing it the same time of day everyday is best. My younger kids have 3 rolms they clean, the teens each have jobs that are set and hubby and I have set things. Makes life so much easier when we all know what we are doing and at what time.

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Old 11-06-2012, 07:10 AM   #7
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Re: Getting kids to clean

at present, we do tie allowance to chore completion, and we do a daily allowance. they have a few daily chores (clean rooms, make bed, sweep the floor, clear the table) as well as some rotating weekly chores (help make dinner, clean the bathroom, fold laundry, etc.)

we also sing the same song for the start of clean-up (I've been working on the railroad), clean up in the same order of our rhythm (after breakfast, before lunch, before dinner), and just make it an expected part of the day.

as chores have become routinized in our house, not only do the kids do their chores with no/minimal fuss, but they have become much more cooperative with non-chore helping out (the old, hey could you pick that up and put it away requests).

I loved cleaning house by Kay Willis wyma (though I ignored the more religious aspects; she's a Christian. and we are not).

I love the idea of putting tasks in a box for deep cleaning -- that's an aspect I haven't introduced to the kids yet.
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Old 11-06-2012, 08:56 AM   #8
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Re: Getting kids to clean

When it comes to picking up toys, I do two methods. The first is that, when I say it's time to clean up, I make a game out of it - especially for young kids like your 4 year old. I set a timer and make it a race to see how fast they can get it done, or I challenge them to put away all the green toys (or blue, or red, or whatever) and then give them another color to work on. I also pitch in to help it get done, as long as my child is actively picking up too. For my oldest (he's 6 now), the house rule is also that if something gets left discarded on the floor after clean up time, it disappears and he has to earn it back by doing a different chore around the house.

For standard chores, I do a tiered system too. Some chores - like keeping their room clean, helping put their laundry away, putting dishes away, etc - are expected as part of the family. Extras - like doing someone else's laundry, sweeping the kitchen, etc - have a chart on the fridge and he earns a dime per check mark on his chart at the end of the week. IMO, at 7 and 4, you are definitely not expecting too much for them to help clean!
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:17 AM   #9
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Re: Getting kids to clean

Honestly, the only thing that gets my daughter going is if I threaten to take away her iPod. She will procrastinate her heart out until I mention the iPod.
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Old 11-06-2012, 09:41 AM   #10
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I don't think that's expecting too much. My almost 17mo cleans up his toys. And we're in the middle of that defiance stage. He'll get angry and throw something down, then immediately go pick it up and put it back like he made his point but can't stand the mess. It's hilarious.

Anyway, ex's ODS had cleaning problems. He would inevitably end up playing with toys rather than putting them up, or pitch a fit. I mixed up what I did with him. Sometimes I would ask him to clean before something he wanted to do. Like, Thomas is coming on in 15minutes. We have to clean up before we can watch, so we have to hurry! Let's go! No clean equalled no Thomas that day, or starting it late.

Or make it a game about his favorite characters. Like, let's clean up like to Hulk would! And we stomp around making grunting sounds and flexing our muscles, while tossing toys in the bin and yelling HULK SMASH, HULK CLEAN!

Sometime songs worked. Dancing also. And then other times I would do rewards, but not typical ones. Like, for every 10 toys you pick up (and he had to count as he did it, yay learning!) you get a sticker on your dinner chart. (Dinner chart was after 5 stickers he got to pick what we made for dinner or had for dessert one night.) Or on his game chart (where he could pick what family game we all played on Saturday).

If I was really in a hurry and he did it without complaining or stopping, he got 5 extra minutes of tub time to play before washing.

I always made rewards be things that were fun, but that we would do anyway. He just got to have more control and felt like a big boy. Maybe that would help you?

ETA: And if he did it without me having to ask, 5 extra minutes added to bedtime on Saturday, pick a prize from the treasure chest (it had little books and puzzles, crafts to do, educational things, not candy or anything like that. Not a food bribing fan), or an extra story before bed.

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Last edited by Hillargh; 11-06-2012 at 09:48 AM.
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