Here’s a snippet of an online conversation that happened in the last Tele-Class, when a mom asked about ideas for tidying up. Want six weeks of constant ideas and inspiration? The next Tele-Class is starting this week, so click here for information.
My kids enjoy helping with many household tasks such as washing dishes and folding laundry, but some things they are not interested in: anything that has the words “clean up” in it. Like, “let’s clean up the playroom before we go outside”. Or, “let’s clean up your room before we go downstairs”. Also, anything that signifies the end of a fun task. Like, cleaning up after a craft, picking up toys out of the yard, or clearing the table after a meal. Setting up is fun and they always want to join in. But, clearing away, not as fun! So, that’s what I need to work on.
Hmmm…For clean-up after a craft project or a meal, strive to make the clean-up as fun as the craft project itself. Don’t say, “OK, our activity is done. Now it’s time to clean up,” instead, it’s part of the activity, and it’s an enjoyable part of the activity.
Tidying up, on the other hand, can feel hard to make fun. Doing it frequently so that it never gets overwhelming can help, songs can help, making it into a game can help. My favorite tidying up song comes from the book (with CD) This Is the Way We Wash-A-Day. If you don’t feel comfortable singing, here are some ideas of cleaning-up games: try playing “I spy with my little eye” and then whoever guesses it puts the thing in its place. Or you turn around and cover your eyes and count to ten (or fifteen or twenty), and they put away as many things as they can while you’re not looking, then you turn around and try to guess what they put away. You can play this over and over again until the room is clean. Or bring imaginative play into it: “Wait! There’s a hurricane coming! Quick, get all the toys off the grass!!!! Whooosh!!! Hurry!!!!” Run around and put everything away as fast as you can, then run in the house and collapse on the couch, heaving a huge sigh of relief that you made it in time.
Mom’s reply: We did the game where I turn around for an amount of seconds and then try to guess what they put away. I said, “We’re going to play a game before we go up to the bath”…and my 3 yr old and 5 yr old came running: “oh really, what game, what game????!” And then I said, “It’s a clean up game!” after which my 5 yr old said, “blah!” (not rudely, more funny in tone). Anyway, I explained the game, we did two sessions of 10 seconds and one session of 20 seconds and the playroom was picked up (it wasn’t too bad right then). Later, my daughter said, “You know what Mom, that was really fun”. Score, Miss Faith!