5 Tips When Teaching Kids to Clean Up

Are you picking up your kids toys? Do you feel like a maid of your own home? Teach your child(ren) to clean up after themselves with these simple tips.

Teaching Kids to Clean Up

Since Lincoln was a little baby, I have focused on helping him learn how to clean up after himself. I don’t know what it is but kids must think that there is a little fairy that comes and cleans up after them. Oh, wait… that fairies name is MOM. This fairy should transform into a drill sergeant… but instead, we just turn into a broken record. ” Pick up your toys … pick up your clothes… pick up your mess” Daily it’s the same thing!

I am going to share 5 tips for how to get your children to pick up after themselves WITHOUT you telling them to..that’s the end goal. It takes some training and work but the end result is a happy home. Also, the child has more respect for their own things and the work it takes to keep things clean.

1. Spend 5-10 minutes cleaning.

Spend 5-10 minutes cleaning before leaving the house. Get everyone involved… when it’s cleaning time you( the kids) have to help clean. Husband too! ( You can be getting things together to leave, but point is everyone is helping out)

2. If they can make a mess they can clean.

If they can make a mess then they can at least help clean it up. Of course, a 4-month-old isn’t going to be cleaning but my son started picking up his toys when he was 9-months-old.


Here is a chart I got from Here that shows age appropriate chores.  This chart starts at 2 years old, but kids can start helping clean as soon as they can understand directions. Lincoln puts his toys up in the correct spot, hands me dishes from the dishwasher, and clothes to the hamper as well as cleans up trash and puts it in the trash can. 

3. Don’t take no for an answer.

Consistency is the key. Your kid will probably say no at first, especially if they are young. When Lincoln is feeling extra defiant I will pick him up to put him down with his toys and use his hand along with mine and pick up the toys. Eventually, he will begin picking up toys on his own again and I will praise him for that.

This picture was taken after he had been rolling on the floor refusing to clean up and then I would pick him up and hand over hand pick up toys. He then decided to pick up two himself and run away laughing. I then straight-faced got him and told him to clean up and then hand over hand picked up the toys. He then began to pick up the toys, this is when I took the photo! I did not want to seem like it isn’t a fight sometimes, and think my child is just a ” good kid”.

4. If you are cleaning up their toys they should be helping.

If they see you clean them up while they are playing they will think it’s your job. Not theirs. Make a game of it, cleaning up should be fun and rewarding for everyone. Have a set clean up time where everyone is cleaning.The big and small kids should have their own jobs during clean up time. It will be easier for you as a parent, instead of barking orders or repeating things a million times. Cause we don’t do that enough?

4 1/2.  Take toys away till a later time.

 If they don’t clean up let them know it is yours until they do an extra task later. This task should be something that is kinda difficult but not impossible. I do this a lot with my older kids since I don’t give them as many reminders.

With Lincoln, I usually have to remind him of what we are doing next as soon as he cleans up. Usually something fun. This works well with older children as well.

“Pick up your toys first then we get to go bye bye”

For the older kids, “If you want to _____ then you need to clean ___ up first” If the bigger kids say no, or try to give me the work around. reminding them of their choices is always a great thing to do. You either do this or this will happen.

5. Most importantly… make it FUN!

Sing songs, put music on, clap, encourage and let them know how much you appreciate them cleaning up their own mess. For big kids you can tell them you will stop singing and clapping like they are babies if they clean. I am kidding…but it probably would work!

Does your house look like a toy store exploded? Click here to find out ways to de-clutter toys!

Remember these tips by Pinning!

I want to know… Do you have a special cleanup routine? If so, what is it?!  Leave answer in the comment section below! 5 Tips for Teaching Kids to Clean Up

5 Tips for Teaching Kids to Clean Up


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