The excuses when it comes to clean- up time and why they can’t are endless:
I have to go to the bathroom
I didn’t put that there
It is not mine
It is mine and I want to leave it there
I’m still playing with that
I’m going to ignore you and keep playing
My sister won’t help
My brother won’t help
Casey keeps messing them up
I don’t want to
I could go on.
I have tried everything to get them to clean up. I nag, beg, yell, bug, order, threaten to throw away toys, tell them other kids would love to have their toys and I even tried searching the internet for clean-up games for the most part that did not end well.
One game does work occasionally. I give each kid an empty laundry basket and tell them whoever has the most in their basket wins. Then whoever puts all their toys away in the basket first wins again. Liz always wins this game and hasn’t figured out that by winning she is cleaning up the most stuff. Sometimes this game backfires and the kids end up playing with the laundry baskets.
I also send them in different directions to clean. This only works when they are fighting and want to be away from each other. This tactic often ends up with someone complaining their ‘mess’ is bigger than the other sibling’s ‘mess’.
When nothing else works, I threaten to use the timer on the stove. The kids hate the timer and know I use it when I’m tired of their clean up excuses. I set the timer for however long I think it should take them to clean plus 5 minutes. The beeps of the timer are loud enough everyone can hear it no matter what room they are in.
So here is how this usually works. I set the timer for twenty minutes; my kids sit and play with the toys for 19 minutes. The one minute warming beeps and the scramble begins. My kids start grabbing toys and putting them away at lightning speed. I used to come out of my hiding place and yell, “One minute” and watch. It was during this minute that I discovered something. My kids will clean up more stuff in the last minute than for the rest of the time. They got even quicker when the minute was up and the ‘time is up’ beeps were beeping.
I finally got smart. I set the time for 5 minutes no matter how big the mess. Then the timer beeps and my kids clean. Order is restored in Lovelady Land and life can continue.