Do you find yourself constantly tidying “up ?   Do you feel like all your hard work cleaning is undone as soon as the kids walk in the door?   Do you ever ask yourself if you live with a bunch of ˜whirl-winds ™?

As a mom of 3 busy kids, I felt like I was constantly picking stuff up “ toys, shoes, homework, empty cups ¦you name it “ CLUTTER invades our home daily.

In an effort to keep the house picked up (and not lose my mind), I enlisted the help from my kids to pick up the clutter.   When I first told them I needed their help, all I received in return were groans.   Until I told them we could have fun with it.

Here are 5 Fun Clutter Busters that have worked for us:

1.       Vacation Time! Faced with an overabundance of toys that can sit on shelves for months neglected, our toys go on vacation!   Every 3 months (or so), we fill up a box with toys that have been played with and ˜deserve a break ™.   The toys that have come out of the box are refreshed and ready to play with.   This allows fewer toys to pick up, more container & shelf space for toys that are out, and a fresh new batch of somewhat forgotten toys to play with every few months.   We just started this with my 3 year old and he loves it!

2.       How Much Time do I have?   Whenever I asked my kids to help me pick up, this is the question I would get.   Exasperated one day, I said You have 2 minutes to pick up everything that is yours downstairs! Anything that is left behind is mine for a week. My kids have never cleaned so fast.   The race became fun for them and when one lost their iTouch for a week, they never left anything behind again.   We also pull out the timer for other cleaning projects too (i.e. rooms, bathrooms, sweeping, etc.).

3.       Teach Them Early.   To help establish my 3 year old's independence when it comes to cleaning his room, I have taken a few pictures of what his shelves and bookcase look like when they are clean.   We pull out these photos and replicate the tidiness together.   He earns a sense of accomplishment and I earn a clean room!

4.       Find the Dimes.   Another fun way to get my youngest involved is to make a game out of picking up.   My daughter hides dimes under all the clutter strewn across the house.   The object of the game is to find all the dimes, with a slight catch “ anything they pick up, must be put away before you can find a new dime.   Once all the dimes are found, we celebrate with a treat (and a clean house)!

5.       Grab a Ball! This is a fun game to play to get help with all sorts of chores around the house.   Gather a bunch of balls (plastic or ping pong work well) and write various de-cluttering tasks on them.   Place them all in a container with the balls hidden from view.   Have each family member select a set amount of balls (we do 3 each) and give them a time to complete it by.   Or make it a competition to see who can complete the most balls in a given time.

Some ideas to write on the balls could include:

–             clean off kitchen counter

–             pick up toys in playroom

–             clean off homework area

–             sweep the patio

–             water the plants

We have found that by making clutter-busting fun, the kids don't seem to mind it as much. Not to mention, we enjoy a cleaner house!

Do you have any great Clutter Busters that work in your family?

Check out these great Quirky Momma posts for more ideas for managing clutter and keeping your home organized:

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  1. I teach a class of 2 year olds in a daycare and really appreciated your ideas. I already practice the idea of toys going on vacation. I will certainly have to try hiding dimes or some other reward underneath the clutter.
    Another thing that we do, especially when there are new children in the class is we make a cleaning up the activity. I will let the children know that we are playing an exciting game where we can play with any toys in an activity area, but when I flash the lights (which is the usual signal of a transition in my classroom), it will be time to clean up and have a seat at the table. Usually there is a coloring activity or a treat waiting for them at the table to enjoy as they wait for the rest of the class to finish. The first few times are miserable, especially if the child has never cleaned up before but they learn quickly. An added bonus is that most children learn that whatever they take out needs to be put away, so they tend to put things away as they go.

  2. How young do you usually start these things? I do the toy rotation already but my son is only 15 1/2 months so I’m not sure if he’ll understand the games. I try to get really excited and reward him with praise and maybe the occasional treat but I still feel like he doesn’t really get the concept and 1/2 the time he ends up playing with the toys and taking more toys out rather than cleaning them up.
    These really are GREAT ideas that I never would have thought of on my own, and I can’t wait until he’s old enough to do them bc I’m going crazy cleaning a billion toys up all the time…

    1. I started with my almost 3 year old from the moment he started to play with toys – I would make sure he watched me pick up toys as I would tell him what I was doing. I would sing the clean up song to him. And I would ask him to “pick up that ball and put it in this basket.” Modeling it and then verbally teaching him has helped him form a habit!

  3. We have sent about 80-90% of ther toys on holidays and to my surprise….the chldren play much better and we are done very quick with cleaning up 🙂

  4. You are my hero! These are awesome! I’ve been having a really tough time with my kiddos and cleaning! I’ve complained to my husband, more often than I care to say, that I feel like I am on a merry-go-round with tidying. I will definitely be trying some of these. Thanks!

    1. Honestly, my kids don’t mind picking up when we use one of these fun games to do it – I hope you try and it works! Let us know!

  5. great ideas. I really like the taking the picture and then doing it together. That might work with my three year old and the ball.

    1. I just started using the pictures with my 3 year old last month and he loves to “pick up” using the pictures! It make shim feel important – I can see it in his face!

  6. One quick one I learned from someone is to “pick up your age”. So if I need a quick clean up, I tell them, “Pick up your age on the stairs/your room/the playroom.” My 6yo picks up 6 things and my son 3! Of course, I’m in my 30’s but I guess it’s appropriate I’d have to pick up 30 things since I’m the mom! 😉