Getting children to help clean up a room is like pulling teeth. It’s never going to be easy, but if you get creative, it could be less than torture, and maybe even fun. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Set the Timer

Have you ever played the “Clean up as much as you can before the timer goes off?” game? Kids will be excited about this one, I promise…at least the first couple times. Set the timer for 5 minutes and assign each child a room or area. Give specific instructions on where things go and explain the goal of doing as much as possible before the timer buzzes. Ready, set, go! Who doesn’t love a game that also results in a cleaner house?! You can also get creative about “prizes” you give the winner —  first pick of the before-bed story, extra marshmallow for dessert, taking a photo with your phone.

Take a Number

Give each child a goal to collect and put away a specific number of toys. If there is only one child, it’s not fair to have him do 50 toys, but you could do 25 and he could do 25. The more kids, the less toys to pick up. And you can count out loud with them to make it more fun (and educational!).

Fill Your Cart

Use bigger toys you have around the house to pick up the little ones. A shopping cart or stroller works great. But so does a big cardboard box or empty Lego bucket. You can play grocery store or simply make it about speed. Tell the kids to stroll around the house, “shopping” for their favorite items. When they’ve filled their cart, dump them in the toy box or correct bin. Done!

There’s no magic bullet when it comes to cleaning up toys. But when you try something new, everyone benefits. You can also use these tactics when you hire a sitter. Tell her the rules and details of the game, and let her be the leader. Or, she can come up with her own game!

Pass along these tips to your next babysitter! Find sitters who help out with chores on UrbanSitter.

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