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Thursday, August 1, 2013

How to Get Your Kids to Clean Up Their Toys in 24 Hours

If you think this is going to be one of those "try this trick on your kids and in 24 hours flat, they'll be rushing to clean up their toys like it's the best thing in the world" posts, than you're wrong.  Sooooooo very wrong.

Just as the title says, this post will tell you how to get your kids to clean up their toys is only 24 hours time.

Here's the timeline:

6:59 AM: Wake up with the baby and give her a bottle.  While you're sitting on the couch, half asleep, you look around the living room and realize that there isn't even a path across the room because of all the toys on the floor.

7:15 AM: The kids awake (grumpily, of course) and make their way to the living room.  You inform them that they need to get their toys picked up right away after breakfast.

8:42 AM: The kids are finally done arguing and complaining about breakfast and are ready to move on to the next fun activity.  You throw away more food than you gave them (how do they do that?), and clean the kitchen quickly so you can supervise the toy clean-up before they get anything else out.

10:32 AM: You've been directing clean-up for almost two hours now and so far they've picked up 4 toys and dumped 5 more out.  You realize that they're still in their pjs and you need to run to town to pick up milk and mail a package.

11:19 AM: All three kids are dressed and ready to go so you all head out the door to run errands.

12:01 PM: You forgot to mail the package, but at least you remembered to get milk.  Everyone is grumpy as they walk in the door because they're hungry and it's lunchtime NOW.  You throw a frozen pizza in the oven and instruct the kids to each pick up 5 toys in the 15 minutes it'll take for the pizza to bake.

12:16 PM: The pizza is done, but the kids haven't picked up one toy yet.  You threaten to eat the whole pizza yourself if they don't hurry up.  Wailing and gnashing of teeth occur (mostly because they've seen you eat a whole frozen pizza yourself and know that you're really not kidding), and they agonizingly pick up their five toys apiece although you can tell that it's physically painful for them.

12:26 PM: The pizza is GONE, and you only got one piece.  The living room is still a mess, but now it's rest time so you lay them down for naps and caution them to be quiet for 1 hour.

2:30 PM: Rest time didn't go well so you tacked another hour onto their "naps" which means that you spent an extra hour yelling down the hall to "be quiet and go to sleep!"  The kids get up, and you tell them that before they can play with their toys, they need to clean up what's already on the floor.  You assign them specific jobs ("You pick up the tractors and put them in that box, and you pick up the blocks and put them in that box) because that's how a smart mom gets her kids to clean up messes.

5:18 PM: 2 tractors and 4 blocks have been picked up and the kids have spent almost 3 hours playing with the toys they were supposed to have cleaned up.  Of course, every time you tell them to quit playing and pick up, they feebly lift a toy several inches into the air and whine that they are picking up.  You inform them that bedtime is at 7 and if the toys are not picked up very soon, they will miss supper.     

Source: Proverbs 31 Ministries

6:14 PM: After much screaming, yelling, arguing, and crying, there is finally a small clean spot in the middle of the living room floor.  The kids happily proclaim that it is officially clean and, because you're so sick of fighting, so you tell them to go eat their supper so they can go to bed early.

7:04 PM: Bedtime.  'Nuff said.

7:33 PM: You flop down on the couch, exhausted and turn the tv on.

7:48 PM: The mess in the living room is really annoying you, plus you just can't fathom having another day like this one tomorrow.  You decide to do a quick cleaning and organizing spree of the kids' toys.  Then tomorrow, you will keep a close eye on them so you can make sure they pick up what they were playing with before taking something else out.

9:27 PM: The toys are all organized in the right boxes and stacked neatly on the shelves.  You step back and admire your work.  Time for bed!
The next morning...

6:59 AM: You wake up with the baby and gaze admiringly at the organized toy area in the living room.  You promise yourself that you won't let it get messed up today.

7:15 AM: The kids wake up and come out to the living room.  They survey the beautiful clean-ness of the toys, and the 5 year old turns to you and happily exclaims, "See, Mommy!  It's all clean now!  The cleaning fairy must have fixed it while we were sleeping!" (side note: This is not an exaggeration.  This is a direct quote from this exact scenario.)  You explain that Mommy worked very hard to clean it last night, and they need to keep it clean today so Mommy doesn't go completely insane.  Then you go into the kitchen to make breakfast.  

7:22 AM: You come out of the kitchen to tell them that breakfast is ready.  Every. single. box. has been dumped out and the shelves are cleared.  You officially go insane. 

Okay, I lied.  The actual title for this post should be "How to Clean Up Your Kids Toys Yourself in 24 Hours with a Maximum Amount of Stress"

How do you get your kids to clean up their toys?


  1. I wish I'd have come across a post this real when my boys were younger. The benefit of them being older is that I can shut their doors if needed. I find pulling out a trash bag works wonders if I'm really feeling mean though ;)

    1. My sister tried the trash bag idea on her son and he happily helped her fill it with toys to "throw away" :) That usually works pretty well on my 5 year old, but my 3 year old doesn't quite get the concept yet.

  2. Um. This is my life right now except my kids aren't old enough to use words while complaining about cleaning. I ask the 2yo to clean up and it's just "NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!" and a screaming meltdown. Fun, fun, fun.

    I've been strongly considering just throwing all the toys out while the kids sleep. :)

    1. It gets even more fun when they can argue with you about why they shouldn't have to clean up the toys :) I actually put half my kids' toys into storage after a day like this last month. Since they're still having issues cleaning up, I think it's time to pack up some more!

  3. Have you been spying on me? This sounds like what I go through on regular basis!

    1. That's why there are no names in this post...I figured that it probably applied to 98% of households with children, right?

  4. Classic!!!! And true...unfortunately...


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