I know it’s hard to believe, but yes you really can have an organized home with kids living in it! The key is to keep it organized in kid friendly ways.
For instance we have a cupboard that is down low and right next to our kitchen island where we keep all of our kid’s plastic plates, bowls and cups. It’s great because they can reach them to set the table and put them away when they unload the dishwasher. It’s always a good rule of thumb to store items in the place you use them most and the same applies with kid things. My kids have a desk to use up in the playroom to do their homework at, but inevitably they need my help while I’m fixing dinner. So in our dinning area that is right next to the kitchen I keep a small pencil case full of pencils, erasers and crayons needed for homework. It nicely hides away in our buffet and my kids have easy access to it.
I mentioned in an earlier post about using pictures to label toy bins and using clear bins, so they can see what’s in them, since it would be silly to expect kids to clean up their toys if they don’t know where to put them away. With the bins labeled and plenty of room for the bins to go on shelves, they can no longer use the excuse “I don’t know where it goes.” To a kid it can seem overwhelming when there are toys spread all over the floor. So we like to break up the job into smaller parts. We assign each child only one type of thing to clean up, one would pickup just Hot Wheels while another one picks up only the play kitchen toys. Each child feels good knowing they don’t have to clean up the whole room by themselves. And it’s pretty obvious if one of them didn’t do their job because their assigned toys are the only ones left on the floor. This has worked out great for our oldest since many times he would clean up way more than his fair share while his younger siblings didn’t clean up anything at all. We even make a game out cleaning up by putting the ball bin in the middle of the floor to “shoot hoops” into, or build a short Hot Wheels track so that the cars run down into the Hot Wheels bin. It’s a great way to teach kids that cleaning up and organizing doesn’t have to be hard and boring.
Get creative with your kids. Ask them to help brainstorm ways they can organize their things. It may seem silly to you to keep their pajamas stored under their bed but if that’s what makes sense to them then give it a try. My son keeps his underwear shoved in a small wooden box on a shelf in his closet. Since he doesn’t have dresser this is a perfect solution for him.
It’s amazing how much kids can organize too if Mom isn’t the only one who knows where everything goes.
The Cleaning Games to Play with Your Kids
During this game you take turns with your child calling out a color. Then the person who did not call out the color picks up everything in the room that is mostly that color. Keep choosing colors until the room is picked up!
Find the Treasure
Hide clues under your child’s things in their room. As the clean up the room they will find the clues. When it’s all picked up and they have found all the clues it can lead them to a treasure in the house (a treat or something). A variation on this is to hide coins under all of the stuff and as they clean they find coins to keep!
Sort the Stuff
Put the different bins throughout the room (this should be the bins where the toys usually go and they already have their labels of what should go into the bin) move everything in the room into the middle of the room and start sorting.
Make it a Race
Each person in the race takes one section (it could be individual rooms or just different areas of the same room.) Try and clean up as much as you can and beat your mom/brother/sister.
Name the Person
This game has nothing to do with the actual cleaning, but can offer some distraction while doing a large job. One person starts to give clues about a person (real or fiction) and everyone else has to guess who it is. This game is good for during folding laundry, doing the dishes, etc.
Blast the children’s favorite songs and get to work. Dance as you sweep, scrub, and dust. Ice Skating – Have the children put on old socks and put water and cleaner on the floor. Let them skate all over the room to get the floor scrubbed.
Give each child some cleaner and a rag and have them each clean one side of a window. They will have fun spraying each other (which won’t actually hit them because they are on the other side of the glass.)
Have your kids open a bed and breakfast. They can be the innkeeper and change the sheets and towels in their bedroom and bathroom. Then they can make the bed and get it all ready for “guests”.
The Clean Fairy
Do random bedroom checks. If the bedroom is clean then leave a note and a treat saying what a good job they have done keeping their room clean. If it is messy leave a note saying the fairy was there but couldn’t stay because it was messy. Decorator – Whoever sets the table gets to decorate it for dinner (a centerpiece, placemats, etc), this can also work for cleaning the bathroom
For this fun list of cleaning games you can play with your kids download this PDF!