It’s summer, which in my house means a constant mess. The kids are making messes faster than I can clean them.
But that’s okay, because I know the trick. I know how to trick kids into cleaning.
I am not by nature a clean person. I make giant messes everywhere I go, and then I get overwhelmed by my mess and can’t imagine picking up the whole thing. On more than one occasion, I have just walked away and hoped someone else would come in and clean up after me. It’s lazy and it’s selfish, but that’s how I feel!
I felt extra guilty about this when I caught my daughter doing it when I asked her to clean up her toys. She would make a giant mess in the middle of the playroom and just walk off. I’d ask her why she didn’t pick up after herself, and she always said the same thing, “But mommy, it’s too much for one little person to clean!”
And she was right. I looked at that mess, and it was too much for a grown person to think about tackling, it must look like impossible to a three year old! How will she ever learn to organize toys?
So, I came up with a plan. A plan to trick her into cleaning. I hugged her and told her, “You don’t have to clean the whole thing. Just pick up four things.”
And she did.
Then, I upped the ante. “Pick up seven things.” We kept going. We went as high as she could count!
We did this until the whole room was clean. Now that she’s older, I tell her to clean her room, and I can hear her saying to herself. “It’s easy, just pick up fourteen things.”
She’s learned how to break up the giant task of cleaning her messy room into smaller more manageable tasks. That’s something I wish I could do!
Oh, and let’s not forget about the learning aspect of all this: one-to-one correspondence! My daughter was a master at this when she got to kindergarten!
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