Having kids can add a lot of stuff to your home. When they are young, it’s toys. So many toys.

When they are older it’s just stuff. Shoes, clothes, books, earbuds, electronics, etc.

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And while starting when they are young and creating good habits of keeping things clean, it’s the nature of kids to forget.

So when the house is looking like a tornado hit, here are 5 ways you can get your kids to help pick up their toys and belongings without a lot of nagging.


5 ways to get kids to pick up their stuff


5 Ways to Get Your Kids to Pick Up Their Stuff


30 Item Pickup

This is my favorite way. And with 8 people in my family, the 30 item pick up gets our house looking better in no time.

The number of items doesn’t really matter. For toddlers or preschoolers it could be ten things. It could be 100 items. The key it to pick a number and everyone, even you, picks up that many items. My kids like to do it as fast as they possibly can!

This is an easy way to get your kids to pick up their stuff without a lot of the overwhelm that comes with looking at a crazy, toy filled room.

You can also do this a couple times a day, like before meals or before bedtime, to help get the house in better shape really quickly.


toddler toy messy room


Related Reading: 17 Chores a 3 year Old Can Do 


The “Toy Basket”

When I was a mom of 4 under 6,  I used the “toy basket” a lot. Especially when certain kids weren’t listening as well as they should at clean up time. Here’s how it works:

Get a large basket and go around the house picking up everything on the floor. I just walked on my knees around the playroom pushing the basket filling it with toys that had been left out for far too long.

But here’s the most important part: NOTHING can be taken out of the basket without emptying the whole thing.

That means if their favorite toy ends up in the basket, they have to put EVERYTHING in the basket away in order to get it.

This one can work particularly well if your older kids or teens like to leave electronics, chargers, or earbuds all over the house.


Pre-Screen Time Clean Up

For better or worse, we live in a screen filled world today. And for many kids their screens are an important part of their life. We have a set screen time every day, while I make dinner. This is where they all get to play games or watch videos.

BUT they can’t have their screen time without first picking up.

Of course expectations are different depending on ages, so my 3 year old has to help pick up certain things and all the others (age 8-17) have to pick up and vacuum the entire downstairs before anyone can watch.

I’ve also seen different versions of this, including changing the wi-fi password each day and not giving out the new one unless chores are done. That one would work best for teens and tweens.

Basically, find your kids’ currency; what’s most important to them. And then use that to reward them for acting responsibly with their stuff.


teen putting clothes away


Related Reading: 25 Life Skills Teens Should Learn Before Leaving Home


5 Minute Cleaning Blitz

Do you ever notice that when you are on the clock you get so much more done than you thought possible? Seriously, pick a room, set a timer for 5-10 minutes and see how clean you can get that room before the timer rings. It’s great motivation!

And it works for kids too.

Set the timer for 5 minutes and tell everyone to clean up as fast and as much as they can before the timer rings. Then everyone get busy!

Very occasionally, I will have a kid drag their feet, but that’s usually fixed by adding this rule: Anyone who isn’t cleaning up as fast as they can and working hard gets to clean up the rest of the room by themselves.


Get Rid of It

I don’t mean this in a, if you don’t pick up all your toys I am going to throw them all away! type way. Although that usually does the trick too.

But kids of all ages, and even adults, get overwhelmed by stuff. It’s just too much and you don’t know where to start.

By regularly purging, downsizing, and decluttering you can help your kids feel less overwhelmed and they will be better able to tackle the job of keeping their rooms clean and their belongings off the floor and in the right spot.

And above all, start young. Have high expectations of your kids from a young age and make sure they know that keeping the house is a family affair.  All kids are capable of picking up and putting away items- even a 1 year old.

And believe me it’s much easier to make a game of picking up toys when they are one than to yell at your teen to pick up his stuff over and over and over again.


You can also use a printable Habit Tracker to help your kids visually see their daily clean up tasks. Write down a clean up time on their tracker along with other important tasks, like putting laundry away, to help them build good habits when it comes to their belongings. 

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