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It's Clean Up Time!

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Clean Up, It’s Just the Beginning


Teaching your child to pick up after themselves encourages and develops independence, confidence, cooperation and responsibility. All traits they will need to grow into well-adjusted adults.

Getting your kids to clean their rooms can be exasperating and downright exhausting. You might expect resistance from a teenager, but a young child that refuses to pick up his toys is a problem, and it can lead to much bigger problems later. To raise compliant, cooperative children you’ve got to start young. Raising small children is much like running a daycare; keep it structured and consistent with lots of fun time, and you will have happy kids.

Little girl and Mom standing in a messy bedroom. Its Clean Up Time Cartoon.

Begin Early


As soon as your child can toddle around with toys in hand she is ready to learn the wonderful art of “neat and tidy” aka organization. Keep a basket or toy box nearby. Sing, play “clean up” music (check your library for audio cd’s) play and have fun. Children are very receptive to their parent’s moods and attitudes. If you’re in a bad mood, feeling negative or impatient, your child’s behavior will reflect it. If your child feels clean up time is a joy and fun to do, you will not have to fight them to do simple chores later on. Mastering this simple task leads to skills that will nurture them and set the stage for adulthood.

Its Clean Up Time Amazon Clean Up Toys

Let Your Children Help You


Young children love to help mom and dad. If you’re cleaning house give them a dust cloth or broom. Small children love make-believe clean-up toys such as small brooms. Avoid bringing plastic toys in the home whenever possible as they can be toxic and create hazardous waste in landfills and oceans.


More Should Always Be Less


Young children do not need a lot of toys. Age appropriate, teaching-inspired toys are best. Minimize the stuff and you eliminate a lot of extra work, which saves time and your sanity. More is less, is a motto we use a lot around our home.

More stuff means less room, less money for other things and less time to enjoy what you already have. It makes life simpler and it’s so much easier to keep things nice and tidy. You can also say that less is more…

A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place


Keep your children’s toys organized by size, category, etc. This will make it much easier to find them and put them away. Cars can be put into baskets, boxes, etc. according to size. The same with dolls and doll clothes, etc. Let your child help you sort them. Being included in the decision process increases the likelihood that they will continue to keep their toys organized.


Rotate and Donate Toys


Over time your child can accumulate a lot of toys. Box some of them up and store them out of reach for future reuse. Rotate every couple months or so to keep toys “interesting.”

Toys that have lost their appeal or age-appropriateness, can be donated to charity. This is a wonderful opportunity to teach your child about giving and compassion. If possible, speak to them about other children in the world and how giving is a wonderful way to express their love and concern for others.

Reni and Scampy at the beach, for the newsletter.
It' Clean Up Time! Be the example.

Be the Change You Want to See


You can only expect good habits from your child if they have seen them in you. You are their teacher, and the erroneous expression, “Do as I say, not as I do,” will only confuse and frustrate them. Be exemplary and your children will surprise and amaze you. Model organizational skills and overtime these good habits will become their own.  


Bargain, Bribe, or Reward


Whatever word you choose to describe it, children love to be rewarded. Whether it’s praise, a trip to the park, help with a chore or money, all kids thrive on motivation. In today’s world, the mentality of something for nothing, and got to have it all right now, can distort children’s values and beliefs. Model “gratification delay.” Give rewards only when a chore is completed or an event has passed. This teaches patience and fosters self-respect, pride and work ethics that will serve them well as adults.

Time Limits


Age appropriate time warnings can be valuable in training a child to follow instructions and adhere to a time frame. Here again, incentives can work wonders. For example, “Okay kids, you’ve got 5 minutes and we’re heading out the door. Remember, we’re getting ice cream!”


Important Note to Parents:

Commercial cleaning products are toxic to children and pets!! Safer products are available here

Praise, encourage, relax and have fun. Parenting is a journey, not a destination and each new day is an adventure!

Further Reading:


Ask The Parent Coach: 8 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Clean Up

Kids in Japan Are Doing Something Incredible That the U.S. Should Consider

The Problem with Plastics- Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

Reduce Your Use of Plastics- Environmental Working Group

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