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Five boys...how to get them to clean up after themselves????

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

My sons ar ages 2, 3.5, 5,8, and 10. I I specifically as my oldest two to do a chore it will get done after a couple reminders but they don't pick up messes they make. IE: putting toys back, putting shoes where they belong, clearing dishes from the table..... As for the youngest three, I can ask, beg, plead, threaten,yell, etc..... (yes, I HAVE snapped a few times and hollored and theatened to throw toys away) It ALWAYS ends with me giving up and doing it for them. But not til after a long battle.  I a SAHM and a WAHM and I feeling physically and mntally exhausted goinggoinggoing all day cleaning. I vacuum the whole house and turn around to find someon has dumped all the crayons on floor. I wash the dishes andmeanwhile they are dumpin out toy boxes. Imake beds and they tear sheets right backoff. I feel I am worn thin. I sat down last night ad made a chore chart. They will have daily chores, one each, as well as a couple everyday things (keep toys tidy, make bed, clear plates into sink after meals) I willhelp them do chores as needed. I really hope this works because I KNOW spending soooo much time cleaning leves less time forfun stuff like story time, goingfor walks, play dough, crafts, baking, etc.... and more activities will mean less boredom and less liklihood of MESSES! (oh  I hope!) Anyway, I need any and all suggestions. What if this chore chart is fought aginst? How to handle outright adament refusal to clean up messes? Should there be some sort of award system?My opinion is we all live here and should all pitch in to make this a happier,cleaner more peaceful home. But all the parents I know pay for chores. I am on a VERY limited budget. Isthat bibery??? I am just looking franyinput on how to get the ball rollin here. I had my children to be a MOM, notjust a maid! :)

post #2 of 16

"It ALWAYS ends up with me giving up and doing it for them".


They have learned, from you, that they don't HAVE to do anything - if they stall long enough, you WILL do it for them, so why should they bother?


I suggest that you sit down with the older ones and explain that starting today, things are going to change. You don't want to try to go from black to white overnight - it won't work. But pick the things that are most important to you - write them down. Let the boys decide which items they will do and when - they will hopefully be more cooperative if they have some input. You might prefer a job be done in the morning or evening, but if your son wants to do it at the opposite time, let him. Explain that these are their responsibility now, and everyone knows it, so you don't have to nag or yell or beg any more. You will no longer be doing those things, but you still expect them to get done.


I'd start with just a few things for each at first - after all, you're doing all the work now, plus spending a lot of time and energy trying to get them to do it! If you can get a few things off your plate at first, it will be an improvement!


As much as possible, assign logical consequences to each chore. For example, you can't eat supper until the dishes are washed and put away (or put back on the table). If the kid in charge of doing it doesn't do it, no one gets to eat - and he will have to deal with the mutiny! I'm guessing it won't get missed often.


Be flexible - they can swap chores with each other, or help each other, or perhaps trade in a chore one the list for a different one. But, as you said, everyone lives in the house, and everyone is responsible for making it livable.


You have the hardest job of all. You have to stop bailing them out, and sonce they are used to you eventually doing things for them if they hold out long enough, you have to hold out even longer. Things will probably get worse before they get better, but I think the effort will pay off.


Gradually everyone will figure out the new routine, and they will accept the fact that you mean business. As that happens, you can add more chores to their lists, and include the younger ones. I suggest scheduling a weekly meeting to discuss how things are going, to get their feedback, and to acknowledge their help.


Good luck!

post #3 of 16

For the older ones, print off Flyladyès Student Control Jurnal. Set up a launch pad for the three older ones if they go to school. For under 5, get them to help you clean up after play and general mess making. Put  on a song and see if you can beat the song.


Make cleaning up after themselves at age 5 mandantory. If you have to pick it up, it doesnèt come back out or there is timeout or some other consequence.


Do they have too many toys? Divide them into several large containers or get those bins to seperate them. They can have one bin out at a time. Toyboxes are bad news. Mine is full of crap. The stuff my DD plays with are in binspTRU1-5767415reg.jpglike this and she  can have one out at a time. So that means her cars only, or blocks only. Way less to deal with. And I only have one. They run about $60.



post #4 of 16
Yeah time for new rules. Pick it up or lose it. They'll get it pretty quickly, I'm sure.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Thank you ladies. Yes I know I have created a monster by doing it for them. But that only happens after hours or days of a battle. I simply dont like a messy house on the basis that people come over and see it that way and think "what does she  do all day????" Downsizing toys and those bins are a great idea. I haveone of those for their craft supplies. Need to more for toys! Thanks for that suggestion.And I like the idea of ntural consequences that make sense. I did notknow how to deal with that issuesince my way of puttingthem in time outwas not working. They will sit allllllll night just to avoid picking upa few clothes or toys. Thanks ladies! The messy rooms are my biggest issue. Question.....IS it too hars to give them a warning and time limit to get it clean  and if fthey refuse and the time limit passes (like, say, by bedtime its still trashed) I bag up all of their toys and keep them in my room for a bit? Hw long? How do theyearn them back?

post #6 of 16

sounds like me! doing dishes and I can hear my 2 yr old making my next job!  I have two older boys so there are many toys that are a million pieces. Grrrr!   I nag, plead, bribe...yeah!  I have threatened 'if i clean it up i will clean it into a trash bag"   They now know this will not happen. They do OK sometimes but it soon slips back. My husband too doesn't even notice that he needs following around. I really could follow him all day putting things away....that's another post!  

I cannot relax if my house is a mess so I spend a great deal of time running from one job to another.

I will check in on the post to read suggestions!

post #7 of 16

Okay if you have people coming into your house, knowing that you are outnumbered by that many boys and saying something, I think I would hand them the keys to the house and let them try for a day.

But back to what you were asking about--Limit the number of toys.  Have a tub that you WILL fill up with the toys are not picked up and TAKE it to goodwill or a resell shop.  (For the olders).  Is there a dad in the picture?  What does he think should happen?  


One other thoughts is to think about if your expectations are too high.  With 5 young boys, there is bound to be messes. Maybe pick one room that needs to be clean and picked up for when people come over.  Logical and natural consequences work best.  Of course they are going to time out instead of cleaning, cause you will do it.  

Write up a contract with the older boys. Let them know what you are willing to help with and what they need to do.  I like the age 5 rule stated above.  Not every child will be able to contribute the same but at least a 2 yr old you can trick into thinking something is a game. 


I am a fan of Love and Logic and if I were doing all the work you are doing FOR the kids, I would have a major energy drain.  Think of all the fun things your family could be doing if you were not picking up after them all the time. 


Some of my thoughts

post #8 of 16

With my 5 year old we talk about fairness and how everyone should help out. Her room is her space and so there are often toys out. We do pick up, because she enjoys it more tidy but it doesn't have to be presentable. We also give her an allowance for being helpful, which means helping whenever I ask at this point. She is better at some tasks than others. Picking up her toys unguided is one thing she's not at all good at. She can clean up the dinning area after painting, dust furniture, bring dishes to the sink, unpack grocery bags, and do general nontoy pick up around the house. If I'm picking up and hand her specific toy items she'll put them away. By 8 I expect she'll be able to do things more independently. We don't do punishment, so no toy times outs, but if she doesn't pick up after painting it limits when she can paint. I've really let her know that the more she helps, the less work I have, the more stuff we have time to do and the more freedom she has to do messy things whenever she wants. That being said, there are times our house is 'total toy chaos'. It's really clean at least 3 or 4 times a week and we tidy up at least once a day. At 2 and 3.5 she wasn't able to contribute much at all when it came to cleaning. As she approached 4 she started wanting to be helpful and would ask if she could get us stuff or help with what we were doing. So cleaning has been more of a 'you're old enough to do this now' privilege type of thing, instead of something we've been pushing. One thing that's helped is to put everything in a canvas bag and then put it all in it's proper place after I'm done picking up. I've at times just put the canvas bag in DD's closet until I can get to it. She has access to the bag too, so it's not like taking toys away from her.

post #9 of 16

For their rooms my daughter and I love Flylady`s zones. You spend 5-10 minutes in a child`s room working on their zone for the day. Monday is the bed, Tuesday is dresser etc.If you help each of them for ten minutes it`s an hour of your day. Once  they have it down you can send the older ones off to do it alone and they can even help the youunger ones.

If you`ve never shown them how to clean a messy room, throwing them in there and saying clean-up isn`t going to happen. It`s overwhelming for them and they`ll end up playing more than cleaning. Breaking it into managable chunks helps as does limiting what they can  have out.


They other thing that helped when my daughter was younger was a sort of bribe. (Sort of from Flylady. I know some people don`t love her). The Housefairy. There is a website wher you can pay for videos and such, but I just wrote letters myself. The housefairy comes and does random inspections on children`s rooms and if they are clean she leaves a treat. In my house a stick of gum was used. It was suckers for a while, but I hated the sugar and stickiness. They even had people say there teenagers would clean their rooms for a pack of gum. She would visit about twice a month.


Originally Posted by hippiemum21580 View Post

T..IS it too hars to give them a warning and time limit to get it clean  and if fthey refuse and the time limit passes (like, say, by bedtime its still trashed) I bag up all of their toys and keep them in my room for a bit? Hw long? How do theyearn them back?

It wouldn`t be harsh to give them warning that stuff is going to disapear. I can`t say how long you should keep them and how they would earn them back. It`s a bit age related. For the younger ones a day or two is FOREVER to wait for a favorite toy.

For me they would earn things back by keeping picked up after themselves. Ie if you do 10 minutes clean up in your room everyday for 3 days, you can have 3 things back.

You have to remember when you make the consequence taking all their things away, you have to deal with them not having their stuff. How long are you going to be able to stand firm?

post #10 of 16

I agree that first we have to teach them HOW to clean the room (i.e. I take that to mean making sure there's a clearly labeled or understood bin or place where each thing goes), and THEN insist on it. My son has said he's overwhelmed by cleaning his room right now, and I believe him. He's easily distractible; also, we don't have good shelves & bins....when I didn't have the part time job, we relied on Freecycle and Goodwill for our furniture and storage items, which means it's haphazard and not efficient. I have a job now and we are headed this weekend to The Container Store (my favorite place). He's pretty excited about the trip too! I want to get him a big shelf unit with a whole bunch of the clear "shoebox" style bins (very affordable) and then get him organized, so he'll have no reason not to be able to put his things away.


I watch how the stress level in my own body builds up when I approach an unholy mess....I can only imagine how it must feel to my son, at his age of 8.


After all that's been done and if you still have no cooperation, I'd take the advice of many of the previous posts, and also consider going on strike.  :-)

post #11 of 16

Ha ha ha ha ha!  (just laughing at the thread title) :)

post #12 of 16

I personally don't like threatening the kids with "if you don't clean up these toys will be gone" type thing.  I think once you go through things and downsize and make specific spots for toys and other items things get a bit easier.  I do have the kids pick up their items throughout the main shared areas of the house(LR, dining room, kitchen, bathroom) often.  Their rooms I just want their floors to be mainly clear so I can walk in there without stepping on a bunch of stuff.  Then on Saturdays they do a deep cleaning of their rooms.

post #13 of 16

Hi, I hear the stressfulness in your voice. :) I am a mom to 4 boys and we homeschool, so there are messes ALL the time in our house. People know before hand that they come to a house full of learning, mess making boys. :) When it comes to cleaning up. I join them. I don't like cleaning alone, why would they? So, we pick the messiest of messes and start there. For daily maintenance, it's usually me doing it. But, if I ask them to help most of them will. They know it's not fun to clean alone. My 4yo is going through a phase of being obstinate and unhelpful right now. He'll come through and be helpful again. :) I don't do allowance with them reason being is that we are a family and this is part of being a family. I will give them money if they do extra outside stuff, like clean the van out or pick up dog poop without being asked. 


I'm not sure how it work this way if the older boys were in school. I know being gone all day with little mess making boys and then having them come home to an already messy house, get dinner ready, homework and then to bed at a reasonable hour. Phew! I'm just tired thinking of that. At least with having them all home, we have plenty of time to accomplish these things.

post #14 of 16

We started an allowance to give my 5 year old DD a better idea of the value of money. We were randomly buying stuff anyway, but now that she has to save up for things she doesn't ask. She just tells me what she likes and if she plans on saving for it or wants it as a birthday gift sometime. She was already being helpful because she wanted to be. We are trying to teach the concept that the amount of money that you can spend on stuff you just want is limited that most of the money goes for stuff you really need. We're not really using the allowance to teach that you get paid for doing work. I agree that being helpful, doing your share of cleaning and picking up after yourself is just part of being a family. I also agree with being patient when a child is going through an obstinate phase.

post #15 of 16

I have to say that I really love toy boxes and big rubbermade containers because even though things can come out quickly they can also go in very quickly and that takes the stress out of organizing for kids who really struggle when faced with a mountain of stuff and a time limit.  I use when/then with my dd a lot because it feels more positive.  Usually I can just do the when/then, but if the job still isn't getting done after a very reasonable amount of time has passed plus ten minutes I go to the time limit and tell her what will occur if the job doesn't get done, then I follow through.  I think  that making one time every night that the toys must be out of the common areas would be a good idea.  You could even tell them that if they aren't able to pick up all of the things they take out by bedtime you will bag it and put it in storage so they won't have so much stuff to worry about picking up at night.  I am not a big fan of Love and Logic for younger kids, but I have gleaned some good stuff from it for use with my dd now that she is older and to the age where she can do a lot more than she is willing to do when I am in the habit of waiting on her hand and foot.  I suggest reading the book and seeing if you get anything you feel comfortable using out of it.  It has a firmer tone, but deciding my boundaries and staying consistent with that has really helped me and my dd to lose a lot of the stress that we had when I was being very inconsistent and only reacting when I was frustrated but then not following through because I felt like the reaction was too harsh. 


I don't think you should have to pay them to pick up their toys, put things away, or help out around the house.  You all love each other and help out in age appropriate ways because that takes the burden off of one person.  They don't pay you an allowance to cook dinner, do laundry, clean, not scream at them too much when you have to clean sprinkles off the toilet seat (even if you found the sprinkles late at night after stumbling to the bathroom), etc... so you shouldn't be paying them to clean up their toys, vacuum the dirt they tracked in, or cart their dishes to the sink for you to wash.  I actually do give my dd an allowance and I think that allowance is a good thing, I just don't believe in tying it to chores and making being a helpful and responsible family member an optional thing or something that entitles you to a reward.

post #16 of 16

I don't have an 8 and 10 year olds yet, so feel free to disregard all of this : )


When I was 8 and 10, I washed dishes after dinner (taking turns every other day with my brother), washed the floor, made my bed, cleaned my room. These are definitely not hard things to ask of that age. I understand that you aren't starting from scratch with them now thinking they own you, but it's entirely possible to establish a new relationship where you set the chore list, the rules and the deadlines. You can set a timer for the older ones, counting down from 10 or 15 minutes, that way they can see just how short of a time it actually takes to clean up, especially something like putting toys away. I remember when I didn't want to wash dishes as a kid, my parents would remind me how much longer I had just spent whining about it than doing it and when they timed me actually washing them, I'd realize that it's really not a big deal.

Originally Posted by hippiemum21580 View Post

IS it too hars to give them a warning and time limit to get it clean  and if fthey refuse and the time limit passes (like, say, by bedtime its still trashed) I bag up all of their toys and keep them in my room for a bit? Hw long? How do theyearn them back?


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