Tips for keeping the mess to a minimum

Let's face it: children keep us on our toes! Unfortunately they also seem to be special dirt generators. What are some of your favorite tips for keeping the mess down to a manageable level?

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22  Answers

37 7

Encourage the kids to clean up their own toys but don't stress- before you know it, they're off to high school and university. Enjoy your little ones while you can, it goes by very fast. xx

8 8

Sorry Accidently voted down. Actually meant to vote up because I liked your comment.

9 0

My kids are 6, 4, and 3. I also do daycare so toy clutter can be overwhelming. We have dedicated areas where toys are and aren't allowed. My kids love meal time so I require a pick up before they eat. At least we start with a clean slate and I can actually see the floor in the kid dedicated areas a few times a day. I will not pick up toys they are old enough to do it. It took some time to teach them where things go but it pays off. I've already started my own kids with chores. They help unload the dishwasher. I put away the things they can't reach or shouldn't handle (like knives) and when I'm done I tell them its their turn. Then I head off to the next task. They also empty the trash cans in the bathrooms and put in new liners. All the little things they help with add up and that leaves me more time to tackle jobs like mopping and such. The best part is if you start early enough and have the right attitude about it they actually bed to help. It makes them so proud. Of course, simple things like shoes off at the door (we live on a farm so it really is imperative) and put your own clothes in the hamper help, too.

0 56

I couldn't agree more! Mine are 6 & 2 (nearly 3 & they understand completely!

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0 24

I think of clean up as a necessary life skill, and I believe in starting that process early. In other words, make it second nature. Organization is critical through out our lives. My daughter started helping me straighten her room before starting the day when she was almost two. We sang songs and worked as a team. She just turned 7, and it is basically automatic for her now, not even a discussion. Now I am starting with my almost 2 year old son, we'll see how it goes. Wish me good luck!!

0 0

I do wish you luck with your son, because in my experience boys weren't nearly as co-operative as little girls that everyone else had!

4 0

I like everyone's answers. My daughter is not even 2 and she can put her own clothes in the hamper, she puts her bath toys in the bath tub, and she helps to empty the dishwasher. She loves to help! I don't make her clean up consistently, but after reading what everyone wrote, I'm going to try harder to get that started. I just sing "clean up, clean up" and make it fun instead of serious. I give her lots of direction and she does an okay job!

0 25

My son helps with the dishwasher too. He has been doing that since he was 18 months. We still have problems with just cleaning up. Even with a clean up song. I think that its amazing how kids are picking up things sooner and sooner.

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8 0

'Shoes off at the door' seems to be a good one that my daughters follow.
Stacking toy boxes, preferably in drawer units.
Plenty of wet wipes in the bathroom.
A supply of old newspapers, kept in the recycling area [ours is by the back door on shelves] to use under those wonderful paintings your children will want to do. You can then roll up the paintings inside the newspaper and put them into those cardboard tubes that come with the kitchen roll if you want to keep them clean and tidy. All easily recyclable.
Have fun!
Most friends won't mind your house having a few toys around as long as the kettle is on when they come!

0 19

I agree Wendy... real friends will understand you have a home not a house. For it to be a home for your kids, it cannot be immaculate. It can be clean and basically tidy, but a few toys around is totally expected of a family home.

9 20

Ban toys from the livingroom except for a select few that stay in a basket in the corner!

4 11

I never have much trouble getting my son (3 1/2) to clean up, but it helps to make it fun:
"Let's put all the blue things away!" red, yellow etc.
"Who can put away the most? Let's count!"
My son likes it when I give him a special container to put things in to carry them to where they belong. Say there's a lot of little toys around; I give him a big mixing bowl from the kitchen and he loves to fill it up and put things away.
Sing while you work.
He loves to put the legos in his dump truck and then dump them into the bin.
You get the picture.
I also have a place on a shelf and a bin (if necessary) for everything.
Try not to be too nit-picky about neatness if they're young.
Also you can rotate toys. Put some away in a closet or where ever, and don't have too much out at once

6 0

I agree that teaching kids to tidy up after themselves at an early age is important. I starte my son with a picture of a bed on a regular sheet of paper and below it a grid days of week. Every morning that he made his bed he got a star and it was fun. We gradually added other chores. Also being clear on the difference of tidying up which you should always do to keep yourself and your family sane and cleaning which is dusting, washing floors etc. A tidy home makes 'cleaning' easier. I think bins are great and lots of low hooks kids can reach for anything that can hang.

40 14

We do this too and tie it in to their "commission". We don't give an allowance. You work, you get paid. No work equals no pay. We believe it is important that kids learn this principle at an early age. Each "chore" is worth a certain amount. For example, making their bed is worth 25 cents each time it is done. Bed made three times equals 75 cents. Some things are worth more. There are some things they do for "free" because they also need to learn to do things because they are a member of the family and everyone pitches in to get things done. Bad behavior can result in the loss of money earned. Example: Back talk deducts 50 cents from their weekly earnings. Hitting a sibling or using bad language looses ALL of it. There are times my eight year old will earn three times as much as my twelve year old and it's "priceless" to see the looks on their faces when one is given a five dollar bill while the other gets only a few coins. If they are saving for something special, they will come to me asking for work to do.

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0 0

Having a designated PLACE for all toys and for clothes, a special place for books, c.d.'s, etc. Kids love knowing where there stuff is when they want it again!!

8 0

Heed the warning: teach them early! I left it too late with my first 2 and now at 15 and 12, they feel it's punitive when I try to engage them in regular chores. The whole being-slave-to-lazy-teens scene is avoidable if you start early.

Help them learn good ways by being positive and encouraging. Criticism of their performance will shrivel their small confidence; I know from experience. My 4 year old loves to help Mum & Dad, and all we give him for this is praise and genuine appreciation.

0 19

There is no right or wrong way to handle it. I have 4 boys aging from 14 down to 2. My 14 was independent quite young, from 2 he was helping tidy up, clean the room, put the clothes in the washing basket etc.... These days he feels if he is happy to have a messy room then that should be his choice as its his space. He does do the dishes each night, my 12 year old cleans the floor under table after dinner, my 7yo wipes the table down. We all sit together once or twice a week to do lots of folding of clean clothes. Starting young doesn't mean they will stick with it though, some will, some won't.... Dont leave your expectations to high. Remember, they are kids and they need to be able to be that as well.

0 29

Everyone has great ideas! One thing that I have done with my two 5 and 3 is have them clean up one toy before taking out another. It cuts down on the amount of clutter and they feel more responsible for their own things. The other day my daughter left one of her coloring projects on the table and went and got something else to do, when she came back to the table there was all her stuff on it and her glass of milk which got knocked over. She was very upset she spilled on her project and just said " I was supposed to clean this up first". It is a start, cleaning their room is not as easy but if it gets a real mess we make it a game or at the very least follow picking up by the more fun stuff, my kids love dusting and cleaning windows. I would just try to keep them involved in all aspects of chores. Now reading your comment though I am not sure these are the answers you are looking for. Bins and boxes are the key ;)

0 16

I use an idea called 'tidy up fairies' as my 2 girls 4 and 7, are fairy obsessed and love the idea that they can become fairies to help mum shape up the house! I count very slowly to 10 or 20 to give them a chance to rush around doing the job... After tidy up fairieshave whizzed around the "mummy inspector" asks if they think they are finished... I then go round and point out all the things that the fairies may have missed on their rounds, and I use a stern ( but funny) voice as the inspector saying " I see a doll over there " ( pointing) and a writing pad. etc.... this gives them a chance to really finish the job well with a little direction and help and is fun for me too.. they get 10 points for a completely tidy house and a reward, normally a sticker on their chart.
The 10 points are just because they like to get them and compete agianst each other for who is being the best fairy.. and I'll dock the points to 9, 8 , 7 or less if they are being lazy!!
After 5 stickers they get a really nice reward of the trading cards that they love to play with. I know its a bit complicated, but its a genuinely fun way of getting the house clean.. we all love it better than nagging!

0 15

It's not complicated for you... you know your children and you have tailored the chores around what they like and can understand..the best part is that you know your children..:-)

0 16

My son has just turned 1, so doesn't quite understand tidying up. If I start cleaning he wants to start playing with what I've just put away. But he does understand "pick up" and "put in," so we do a little of that with small toys and his storage bins.

Dividing his toys so he only plays with a portion at a time really helps me at the end of the day. I'll hide several toys out of sight (in a drawer, high on a shelf or in a box under the bed). Then switch every few weeks or whenever I feel he's been ignoring a certain toy. When I bring out stashed toys, he finds them more appealing.

0 0

I think kids should be required to clean up every day. Yup, parents have to teach them but by 6 they should know how to do it on their own. The most important part of the cleaning experience is that if the kids do not do what they have been asked, they have consequences. Plain and simple. If you start early, 3-4, then there are no arguments. If you decide to start later then expect arguments and all sorts of other aversions.

Moms, if you do not give consequences, you may as well throw in the towel because you will be nagging the rest of your child's time at home and you will never be happy.

I am not sure I am supposed to do this but I have an online webinar teaching parents just exactly that. It is called KidsClean and can be found at Any questions are welcome.

1 0

I can relate, I know I have a lot to learn. I will look up your website.

5 3

Whatever your child likes to do: count, find letters, trains, cars...use this to you advantage. For example: Let's pick up the toys, counting as you go. My son is autistic and loves cars, we pretend we are in a car race and pick up as we go.

0 0

To make picking up blocks fun, my 2 year son and I count the blocks as we put them in their box. At his age teaching him to pick up his mess takes alot of time, but it's definately worth it in the long run. I also keep a nice looking clothes hamper with a lid in our living room so that my son can put his dirty clothes in there on his own. (We get ready in the mornings and evenings in the living room instead of going up and down the stairs with our 2 yr old and 5 month old)

Thanks everyone for the great ideas!

0 0

I have 5 children ages 11 ,8,6,and twin 4 year olds and while I think its very important to clean toys up they don't me and the father have told them its important to clean toys up so you don't broke all fall over there toys my first child the now 11 year old was tough to pick up toys with me from age of two but never like doing it I sang songs and even used to put radio on while cleaning but still I would end up doing while she played.and then my second came along and she was never tough but always did it and loved doing it and was proud of her self as I was she did it from the age of 3 years to now 8 years old so I think it depends on the I think what I wont to know is with 5 kids ages of 11, 8, 6 ,twin 4 year olds is I've tried ever thing to get them to help but as I don't want to make it a fight I end up doing it and every day and I'm over it but think I have to all they wont husband said leave it to gets to messy they will do it but they don't care help please

0 5

Iv gt 2 daughters, 3 n 15, I'm a working mom n only gets 2 do" spring cleanin" on weekends but I taught them well, they know if they make a mess they will be cleaning it, so they keep it to the minimum.

2 20

Never feed your children including snacks anywhere but the kitchen table, or breakfast bar, this keeps the food mess to one location and handy to sink for cleanup. You can also disconnect the tray easily from the highchair, put in the sink & spray off.

Keep a metal strainer made for drains in the garbage side of your sink so undesirables don't go down the drain or in the garbage disposal. You simply empty it in the trash can. Kids are so intent on dumping everything in the sink.

Keep floors swept & mopped on a regular basis this reduces the risk of clean clothes, socks etc from getting dirty from walking on dirty floors.

Keep several portable boxes, crates or baskets for toys & one for quick cleanup in the living room or family room.

Keep a portable can of upholstery or floor cleaner nearby, along with disinfectant, and a bottle of soapy water with white vinegar for quick cleanups. A spray bottle with bleach, dish soap & water is also handy either by the kitchen sink or on the dryer near the washer for fast spot removal on whites. I also keep old or leftover toothbrushes around sink areas, in the drawer for easy spot removal, or for cleaning around handles & grout.

Have a net or canopy in the bathtub for toys. I also keep leftover grocery bags on door handles inside of room for quick trash pickup, or near my desk for trash, hanging on a knob or drawer handle. When the bag is full, just tie it up & toss in the large garbage can.

0 32

My girls are really good about picking up after themselves when we are at someone else's house...but when it comes to our own house ~ our house constantly looks like a tornado blew threw. I would love to be able to walk through the "play room area" without stepping on toys that come out of the woodwork! I get after them quite a bit for picking up and if they do manage to get it all picked up and looking good, it takes about five minutes before it all busts out again. Anyone want to help me on this???

0 0

Alicia I hear you it sound like my house as my children thing I'm there slave.and when we go to other peoples house they act like there angles lol and clean up.

0 0

All children are different. My eldest is rubbish at tidying up. He is now 12. My middle child is brilliant and very tidy and clean and my youngest isn't too bad most of the time. They have all had the same rules and I do expect them to help. I suspect my eldest will always be disorganised.

0 4

I have 6 1/2 & 4yr Boys. My eldest is more or less clean and would clean up on request and knows where to put his clothes after school and at bed time. My Youngest is reluctant to do anything on request but there are times that I have noticed he does clean up on his own and loves to be praised for it. His personality is such he doesn't want to be ordered around, even a most humble request he would turn down with an excuse but as said earlier same things he sometimes does on his own. But in school I am told he always put away things / clean up after finishing. So, I believe in what you say about children being different & we too have to handle them accordingly to get the most out of them. Also age will improve them I believe.

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0 10

I tell my daughter its pack up time. And she will start putting her stuff away. with the dirt now she dont really keep herself dirty.She is 4 yrs old


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