Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Teaching Children to Help-- Part 6

It is very important to me to have a tidy living room. I can live with dust. I can forget that the beds are unmade. I can even let the dishes pile up if need be, but the living room is where we spend most of our time and it disturbs my eyes and mind when it is messy. Therefore, we make this a priority in our house. And this is a priority when it comes to training my kids to help.

I really started this process what I was pregnant with Owen a couple of years ago. Not that the kids didn't help straighten up before then, but knowing we had a third little person on the way and anticipating several weeks of me on the couch recovering and nursing round the clock, I decided I wanted them able to do this job without my help when necessary. They were 3 and 1 1/2 at the time so I was there to guide them, but I was hands-off.

Since this is something we do often, we've developed a few fun ways to get the job done. (Of course, it would be best if the kids would realize that putting something away as soon as you are done with it is a way to save you a lot of work in the long run. BUT as hard as I try to instill that principle, we are still a long way from that!)

  • Turn on music to work by. Fast music works best and we listen to anything from Veggie Tales to Beethoven!
  • Set a 5-minute time limit and do everything you can before the timer goes off. As long as you are working hard, you can stop when the bell rings no matter what is left out.
  • Put one of the older kids in charge of the clean-up and let them assign jobs to the other kids. (They enjoy following orders from each other instead of me every once in a while.)
  • Plan a fun floor activity, like a puzzle or game, for after the floor is clear.
  • Make it a number game. "Put away 5 things that belong downstairs and 4 things that belong upstairs." OR "Straighten up 2 soft things and 3 hard things."
What are the priorities in your house?
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 1
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 2
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 3
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 4
Teaching Children to Help-- Part 5


  1. the timer is a great idea. that would help chandler. we always say that he has to clean his toys in order to get more out so that gets him cleaning quick!

  2. The living room is also a priority in our home - because that is the first thing daddy sees when he comes home from work. I love your clean-up ideas...I became desperate recently and set the timer and told them that whatever was left on the floor was going in the trashcan. I think your ideas are better...and a little gentler. I think I'll try them instead :-) Thanks!


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