Feb 8, 2010

RePost - Tipsy Tuesdays - How to get your kids to clean up their room in 15 minutes

Tipsy Tuesdays

Hello, I am a recovering slob.  It's true.  When I was a child (teen, college student) my bedroom was so messy you couldn't see the floor.  I'm not joking.  When I moved out, my parents were amazed to find the carpet looking practically brand new!  I actually scraped paths in my room from the door to the bed and the desk. I never made my bed.  I couldn't really understand what the point was... weren't you JUST going to sleep in it a few hours later?  My clothes were in piles around my room, and I won't pretend they were in "orderly" piles... they were all mixed in with paper, over-due assignments, lost jewelry, make-up, shoes.

My mother tried when I was young to get me to keep it clean.  She threatened, warned, occassionally cleaned it herself... every once in awhile, she would sit in there and watch me clean... to help me stay "focused".  But even if I got my floor picked up, bed made, dresser closed, closet straightened... my desk would still be a pile of paper, and within a few days of the cleaning, my room would revert to it's "natural" state = MESSY.

I would look at a mess and get overwhelmed, and I would procrastinate.  Eventually (after a few years of tension in my marriage to a "neat freak") I started to figure this out.  The best thing to ever happen to me is a certain kind lady named "Flylady",  she helped me to understand the deeper reasons for my inability to keep things clean and it turned my house around.

So, this is an adaption of one of her concepts, which is cleaning for 15 minutes at a time, this helps me with my procrastination, because you can do ANYTHING for 15 minutes... right?  As my children aged and I got tired of cleaning up their rooms, I decided that they were going to have to pull their own weight.
If they were going to make the mess, then, dog-gone-it, they were going to clean it up!

Both started with this concept when they were 2 years old, with a smaller time increment. I set a timer for 5 minutes and help them by telling them which "bin" to fill.  My kids have bins in their closets which helps with clean up.

So, at the beginning, I literally helped Ben clean by sitting there and saying "Find a Lego" He picks one up "Where does that go?" He says - Lego bin. "Put it away" OVER and OVER and OVER until he didn't need the prompting.

So, this is fool proof, unless your kid freaks out when you get out the timer, in which case, don't use this idea.  I have found that the timer helps us all stay focused.  I can say "CLEAN YOUR ROOM" until I'm blue in the face, but unless I put a time limit on it, it doesn't actually get done. One other thing... I make my kids clean their rooms EVERY NIGHT.  This is a pain in the butt, but they can get it cleaned and it's not so overwhelming (not to mention saving my feet from stepping on small, sharp toys in the middle of the night when someone has a nightmare)

So... as an example:
Now, I set the timer for 5 min. Let her choose which bin to fill...

It doesn't look like much was done... but she chose to fill up her bin of "small things" Next: her stuffed animals and dress-up clothes. Set for 5 more minutes...

What a poser!  Looks like she's making progress! Now: kitchen and the rest. Set the timer for 5 more minutes.

"WAIT MOMMY! One more thing!"

Tuck that chair in... TA DA!

I'm hoping that if I teach my kiddos to clean little by little, they won't grow up to be "cleaning impaired" like their recovering mommy.


How do you get your kids to clean up after themselves?

Just me, AJ


  1. Very impressive! I have done games with my girls -- either I make them think we're racing to see who gets the most cleaned up the quickest, or I say, "Pick up every red thing you see!" and just go through the colors. Thankfully, at 6 and 3, they still love it. :-)

  2. Oh geez. I just blogged about Hoarders and myself. We are always so in tune with each other! LOL!

    She is so cute in those pics! And what a good little helper she is!

  3. Just loved this post... coming from SITS. Random, but are you going to Bloggy Boot Camp in Baltimore?

  4. I was so like you as a teen and my daughter is the same way now.

    What really bothers me is that I'll put an effort in to declutter and clean only to find the house back int the same condition a few hours later. It is so very frustrating!

    I'll go check flylady out. I've heard good things about her. Maybe she has the answer for me!

  5. LOVE the picture progress! Hey - how do you like the Thomas Nelson book review thing - I'm thinking about signing up, but wanted to talk to someone who does it first.

  6. LOVE IT! Priceless little face!! Ya did good mama. :)

  7. I read your guest post at SFTC and I am your newest follower. Yay me!

    I have grown up children, so I speak from experience. I half-heartedly reminded them to clean their room; and eventually they moved out so it wasn't my problem anymore. Just one more kid to go.


  8. cute post! great ideas! I just found Fly Lady and am starting to incorporate her ideas into my schedule.

  9. SPEAKING FROM THE CRIBFebruary 9, 2010 at 9:59 AM

    two words:

    i don't

    three more words:

    well four

    and i give up

  10. Great idea! I will have to try it. My daughter is quick to get everything out, but when it comes to putting things away it's always "but I can't do it ALL by myself!".

  11. They don't have to. They have a maid - ME. *sad face*


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