I’ve talked about this with all of my mom friends, and we agree. We have a love/hate relationship with the playroom. It’s great to have a space for the kids to play where you can easily close the door and hide the mess when company pops by unexpectedly…but it’s not fun when you open that door again and see the toys scattered EVERYWHERE staring back at you. This room that was supposed to make life easier by giving kids a specific area for toys that wasn’t in their bedrooms has just become another room that has to be cleaned.
If the playroom in your house is making you crazy, I have some tips today that will help you get your kids involved in cleaning up the playroom so you don’t have to fear opening that door again.
Tips For Getting Kids To Clean Up Their Playroom
To start, let’s talk about the set up of your playroom. Often, this is half of your battle, and you might not even know it.
Do you have large toy boxes or bins full of toys? What often happens is your kids have to pull out every single toy to get to the one they want, which is inevitably on the bottom of the bin. This is an automatic mess before they’ve really even begun to play. Not good. I’ve found that smaller, shallow bins or drawers are best for organization, because there is less mess when they are looking for their favorite toy.
Once you have those shallow bins or drawers, you can organize all of the toys. I suggest using labels on each one to help your kids remember where each toy should go. You can use pictures in addition to words if your kids aren’t reading yet, or are just starting to read.
Use this time to take inventory of all the toys. Consider setting some toys aside and rotating them back in over time. Kids are always excited to play with something that they haven’t seen in a few weeks or months. Less toys in the playroom means less mess.
Next, you need to set up an important rule for the playroom. This is key to making your new organization system work. Teach your kids that they can only pull out one kind of toy at a time. So when they are finished playing with cars, and want to color, they have to put the cars away before they can pull out the crayons. Learning to clean up as they play is a lesson that will serve them well as they get older.
Finally, make cleaning up fun. There will be days when they forget to clean up as they play and the room will become messy again. For a young child (or an adult) a huge mess can be overwhelming – and even if they want to obey you and clean up the room, they honestly might not know where to start. Help them choose one kind of toy (all the blocks, or all the dolls) and start by picking them up and putting them away. As they learn to focus on one task at a time, it won’t be so overwhelming.
Now you are ready to turn cleaning up into a game – set a timer and see how many toys they can pick up in five minutes or play a song and race each other to pick up the most toys. Kids are much happier helpers when they are having fun while they work!
If your kid responds well to sticker charts, you can have them track every day that they clean up their playroom before bedtime, and let them earn a special treat after they get a certain amount of stickers. This always works well in our house, and those stickers are a great motivator!