Our solution: make it into a game. In general, clean up time works best for us when I am very specific about what should be picked up and where it should go. I try to avoid general statements like “clean everything up” or ” pick up the toys” keeping that in mind I then like to add some fun to the mix.
Here are the top 5 favorite games we play that give us a clean playroom.
1. Elbows, Knees and Toes
In this game we pretend our hands are too tired to lift anything so we have to use other parts of our bodies. . We usually get started with my asking everyone to do one task together and then take turns asking each other to try something. The kids come up with the silliest and trickiest assignments sometimes!
-Everyone try to use your elbow to put lego’s in the lego box-
-Mommy try to use your toes to pick up that doll-
-Johnny can you try using your chin to carry that book to the shelf?-
2. Zoo Keeper
The Zoo Keeper game works really well with our stuffed animals. We happen to keep most of our stuffed animals on a mesh hammock (aka the ZOO) that hangs on the wall. The boys often take them all down and scatter them around the house. When we play Zoo Keeper I send them on assignment around the house looking for stray animals. Again I like to be specific:
-Zoo Keeper Johnny, the blue monkey is on the sofa can you bring him back to the zoo?-
-Zoo keeper Johnny, the pink piggy is hiding by the fireplace, can you bring him back to the zoo?
3. Dump it here
My boys love dumping – actually I’ve never met a child that didn’t find dumping stuff out of containers absolutely fabulous! This game is a play on this feeling. Together I encourage each child to help load toys onto a container lid or a smaller container and then dump it into the bigger container where the toys belong such as the lego box or the toy box. Big giggles are sure to follow by saying “DUMP IT HERE” each time.
4. Grand Nabber
My two year old invented this game – I believe he was inspired by the grand nabbers from the rocket ship from the Little Einsteins. He likes to wear my giant oven mitts, grab toys however he can and then take them to their place. It’s a bit of a clumsy game but my son is two and he is helping so I think it’s great.
I usually take the lead on this game and just start cleaning and saying silly things in a robot voice. "I am a cleaning robot. I can put this book on the shelf. Beep Beep."
The boys find this so funny – and they want to imitate which means we all clean up together.
In the end of course I am doing the majority of the clean up but in my eyes that’s still my job as mom for the next few years. I would like to believe I am creating a sense of cooperation and enjoyment for a task that is not usually regarded as fun. Sometimes the boys will surprise me and start playing these games on their own and tell me when they have cleaned up – and that is so cool…
Do you have any fun clean up games you like to play? What tasks do you find a hassle or do not look forward to?
Peace & Be Well,