How to Get Kids to Pick Up Quickly and Enthusiastically

May 19 2016

I asked my boys to tidy their room, which was a disaster, and, because they’re smart, capable, 9-year-old children who don’t need to have everything explained to them anymore in excruciating detail, I gave them two basic directions, as follows:

  1. When you are finished picking up your room, gentlemen, I should be able to both see and walk upon the floor.
  2. Your things should be organized in such a manner that you can easily find everything. I’m sure I don’t need to mention that you can certainly not find everything — including the shoes, jackets, books, homework folders, etc. that you cannot find ANY of the school mornings — if you shove it all underneath your bed or in the closet. Correct? I do not need to point this out? That there needs to be a better system? No? You get it? OK. OK, then, boys. Full speed ahead.

They finished in 10 minutes.

They have NEVER finished cleaning ANYTHING in 10 minutes, but there they were, tumbling down the stairs in holey socks with giant smiles, proclaiming completion.

I clarified.

Me: I can see AND walk on the floor?

Them: Yep!

Me: And not just a teeny, tiny sliver of the floor?

Them: Nope!

Me: And you have organized your belongings?

Them: Yep!

Me: ALL of your belongings or SOME of your belongings?

Them: ALL!

Me: And I will find how many items shoved under your bed?

Them: None!

Me: And you have completed this entire task in 10 minutes?

Them: Yep!

Me: And it’s SO complete that you feel good about me inspecting it?

Them: Yes!

Me: Now?

Them: Let’s go!

We trooped up the stairs for inspection, and I patted myself on the back on the way because friends — friends — if you give your children FREEDOM to complete tasks THEIR WAY, and you DO NOT INSIST ON YOUR OWN, they finish jobs QUICKLY and ENTHUSIASTICALLY, and it’s a MIRACLE. I should write a Parenting Book! I have finally figured it out!

Also, here is their system:

CleanRoom1

As they say, “A clear path for walking and all of our belongings at our fingertips!” There is nothing under the bed anymore, and, in fact, nothing left in the closet, either, because they pulled everything out of it. Everything. To create their New System of Organization.

I asked where they got such a terrible, terrible idea, and they said — I kid you not — “We learned it from watching you.”

In conclusion, bless their hearts. Bless their punky, butt-nuggetty hearts.

Keepin’ it real,

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P.S. Their room still looks like that because they pointed out there’s WAY less vacuuming this way, and “it’s likely to smother all the bugs.” I’m having trouble arguing with their logic. Well played, boys; well played.