Clean-Up TIps for 5-Year-Olds

Does your 5-year-old have a chore list? Even if the answer's no, 5 is a good age to start getting kids involved in cleaning up their room. Here's how MomSpeaker Jeanne McCullough navigated this tricky task.

When Red turned 5, I knew she could clean up after herself, but it took a lot of prodding on my part. A hot spot has always been her bedroom. I figured she should be capable of cleaning her room, but it was always such a struggle! She would cry and complain and I was at my wit’s end. I tried making a picture schedule, I offered her rewards, and I frequently cleaned out toys and clothes to cut down on clutter. However she still couldn’t clean the space without fighting me tooth and nail.

One day out of complete frustration, I turned to my mom’s club on Facebook for advice. I got a lot of mixed responses, but the overall consensus was that I had to find a way to break it down piecemeal for her. I walked into her room and took a good look around to assess the space. I had designated places for all her clothes and toys, but she was having trouble connecting the dots. Here are some strategies I implemented to help her get the job done.

Red has a ton of dresses that she wears almost daily. If she could, she’d be in a dress every day of the week. The problem is that she can’t figure out how to get them back up on hangers, and she certainly can’t reach the rod to hang them. I decided to get rid of the hangers and I hung 3M hooks right across the back of her closet wall. She loves this whole concept, especially because she doesn’t have to call me in to reach a dress for her. The small clear ones I used were actually leftover from our Christmas decorations, and I do wish I had picked up larger hooks. I recommend 3M Command Medium Hooks, which are perfect for hanging coats and bags, too.

I found these colored baskets at the dollar store and they work great as Red’s “Stop & Go” baskets. She knows how the street lights operate, so it was very easy to explain that for these baskets Red means “Stop” (these clothes need to be washed) and Green means “Go”(these clothes are not dirty and need to be refolded to be put away). While it drives me nuts to have to refold laundry, this system works for me. I’ve tried to teach her, but she doesn’t really have the skill yet and that’s OK with me as long as I don’t have to sort through a pile of clothes on the floor trying to determine what’s clean and what’s dirty.

Next, I drew some simple pictures for where things go in which drawers, laminated them, and used Velcro circles to attach them all over her room. I could have gotten fancy and printed pictures, but our printer has been broken for months, so I had to bust out some markers and my mad drawing skills.

Little socks everywhere! I can never make a pair! I learned this trick when Red was just a tiny baby — use a lingerie bag to corral little baby socks so they don’t get lost in the wash. Now that she’s older, I have one hanging right on her doorknob and she knows this is where the dirty socks go to be washed. The added bonus is that I can hand it right back to her after they’ve been cleaned and she can sort her own socks, pair them and put them away all by herself!

These organizational concepts have made such a difference! I’m not saying Red doesn’t complain when I tell her to clean her room these days, but her whining has changed from “I can’t” to simply “I don’t wanna”, which I can work with!

Jeanne McCullough is a Montgomery County, PA mom. This post was adapted from her blog Mom Hearts Pinot.

Categories: MomSpeak