Solution for Kid’s Messes

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If your kids are anything like mine, they constantly leave things out.  No matter how many times I say “Don’t leave your things out” it happens time and time again.  One day I saw something similar to this little project, and I’ve been meaning to do it for months!

It’s finally here, and you can download the files to make your very own HERE.

My rules of the bucket are as follows…

Chores that go in the envelope to choose from should not be chores the children are regularly assigned to do.  If your child already has to unload the dishwasher as part of their daily chores, then do not include that in the group of extra chores to choose from.  These should be EXTRA chores.

FOLLOW THROUGH.  I put Tuesday on the bucket, because our trash gets picked up on Wednesdays.  This way, anything that is left in the bucket on Tuesday night goes in the trash.  It’s super important to keep your end of this, otherwise they will never try to earn their stuff back.

As your children get used to the bucket, you should find that they leave stuff out less and less often.  This is when the cash part comes into play.  They can pick a chore out of the envelope at any time to earn a little extra money.  You can set a price on individual chores or a price for any chore in the envelope.

Lastly, the protocol to retrieve an item from the bucket is to pick a chore, go do it, and then turn the slip of paper into Mom or Dad (or guardian).  When you, as the guardian, gets the slip of paper back from the child, go and check their work on the chore, and then give them their item back (or give them the cash).  You can either throw the slip back into the pile (if it’s something that needs to be done often) or keep it in another envelope until that chore needs to be done again.


So grab the nearest bin or bucket, print out the list of chores and the poem, and clean your house… your bucket will probably be filled in no time at all.  😉

About the author

Sarah Kimmel

Sarah Kimmel originally created Organized Mom as a way to promote her software program to help busy moms get organized. The software never went anywhere, but the blog took off! While she still writes occasionally for Organized Mom, you can find her writing at Family Tech more frequently. She is also currently works doing IT Services in Utah at Protek Support


  • My mom didn’t give us a chance to earn anything back. Anything on the floor went into big black garbage bags, then into the car headed to Goodwill. Her attitude was “you knew the rules, you were told repeatededly to pick things up, you knew the consequences.”

  • Interesting concept – but donating to the needy, the children’s preschool, the church nursery, or keeping the items off-limits for a day, a week or a month would seem like a better solution to me. If I had bought a nice toy for a child in my family only to find it had been thrown away because children are careless (obviously, given the point of the post altogether! 🙂 ) I wouldn’t be very happy. In fact, from that point on, I would probably buy them clothes instead. Game and puzzle pieces or small parts that don’t get claimed would render the game, puzzle, etc. less usable and diminished in value to anyone else. Yes, this idea definitely helps to reduce clutter, but I’m thinking there’s still a few “bugs” left to be worked out of the system. Admittedly, I was a sensitive child, but I would have been very upset if my toys had been thrown out (I realize that it’s not immediate and they can earn them back). Still, I see it as potentially instilling unnecessary fear in the child. I think at that age, my parents just supervised us picking them up – like a cleanup time before bed. We also had a “play corner” in the living room when we were very young. Or they made us put one thing away before we got another one out. We had a set of those plastic shelves with labeled (and picture-guided) boxes for each kind of toy, and a large chest for dolls and stuffed animals. All of our outside toys had to be picked up after dinner and put back into the shed or clubhouse. That was just the rule – we finished dinner, and we were sent outside (not necessarily expected to remember although we usually did, I think) to pick them up before it got dark and they got all wet from being on the ground. Taking away some toy privileges altogether the next day might be an alternative solution as well. I really think, though, that just coming alongside the kids and working with them can be helpful – children follow behavior modeled for them. Having said that, I realize that children are different and what works for one does not work for all. But just some ideas and thoughts… I know all you moms out there want the best for your kids! 🙂 (P.S., I have taught kids between the ages of 2 and 10 over a 13-year period.)

  • I am going to do this, I have seen thhis idea once before but yourpost has moved it up my things to do list 🙂 I actually wrote a few signs just last week and posted them around for my teenager – but this idea might work better for the younger kids …

  • While I understand where “RJ” is coming from, and I agree with not always throwing things away/giving to charity, I think this is a GOOD solution for kids who won’t pick up after themselves. I would like to see the original post edited to include that if something is valuable, etc., that it gets put away until it can be “purchased” back. I was wondering about this until I scrolled down to read additional comments. A little “trauma” is good for kids! They learn that the world doesn’t revolve around them!

  • We’re a number of volunteers in addition to establishing a brand new design within our online community. Your web site supplied all of us along with helpful data so that you can works of art on. You have done an impressive undertaking and also the whole group will likely be grateful to your account.

  • Your twist on the chore bucket idea caught my eye at first as possibly better, due to the consequence given (because I can see this not working with my stubborn 3 year old- toys would just sit there). Poem is catchy and there definitely needs to be a set day to clean it out, but this idea of trashing the item would never work for us, seeing how those things taken could very well be a 30 year old book or toy I had, or equally as bad, something someone handmade for him. I can’t think of a happy medium here? Hmm…?

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