With four boys, the mess builds up pretty quickly around our house! If everyone takes off his shoes and socks and jacket upon entering the house and leaves them on the floor (or the kitchen table or the sofa), that’s a large mess right there. I am always finding socks in bizarre places and yogurt cups on the table and snack bowls left wherever the eater happened to be when he finished.
If I point out the items left out, the boys are always willing to clean up. They usually say, “Oh! I forgot!” and then cooperatively pick up whatever it was.
But at their ages, I don’t feel like I should be reminding them all the time!
This all came to a head recently because my husband has been working two jobs to make ends meet during a job transition. Two days a week, he is gone from before the boys get up until well after they are in bed, and then he works an extra shift on Saturday. Without my sweetie at home to help get everyone in bed, the boys sloppy lifestyle suddenly seemed much worse. It was time for a plan!
One evening, I had a flash of inspiration. I announced to the boys “Mom’s Clean Up After Yourself Rule.”
Mom’s Clean Up After Yourself Rule: If you leave something out, you have to clean up that item, plus put away three more things!
Here’s what is included in our rule: (Things that should not be left out)
- Bath towels
- Dirty clothes
- Used tissues
- Snack wrappers, bowls, or even a pile of crumbs on the table or a smear of yogurt not wiped up
- After meal jobs should also not be neglected (sweeping for Gresham and clearing the table or loading the dishwasher for Aidan)
I’m working on this rule for the older two first (ages 9 and 6) and Owen (3) is exempt at the moment. But his day is fast approaching! He can’t reach to hang up his coat, but I’m working on a new system for that, plus he’s definitely old enough to learn to put his shoes and socks away. For the older boys, it’s working well so far. They have done a lot of extra picking up, but today we came in from a walk and everyone hung up their jacket right away!
Do you have trouble with kids not cleaning up after themselves? How do you handle that issue?