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How can I create an evening clean-up ritual with my kids?

Lynne Kenney
Psychology
This terrific tool will enhance your child’s sense of independence and responsibility - and work wonders in your home at the same time: the clean sweep. This is a 5-minute before-we-go-to-bed clean-up activity. In a way, it will serve as an example for many other strategies you will employ as you begin to transfer responsibility, mastery, and accountability to your children.

In this strategy, there is a beginning, a middle and an end.

Beginning: You introduce the strategy to your children.
Middle: You all participate in the actions.
End: You review what happens as a family when you are successful or unsuccessful in living up to your responsibilities in completing the clean sweep.

I would like you to create a separate list that contains all the tasks that can be done in an evening to make sure the kids’ rooms are clean before bedtime. Include the little ones in making the list in order to get that ever-important buy-in. They may even have suggestions you hadn’t thought about before.

Here is a typical list I came up with of what needs to be done at the end of the evening so that your home is organized before you go to sleep. Your mileage may vary.

1. Put away toys.
2. Throw away any trash.
3. Make sure there is no food left out for the bugs to nibble on.
4. Put every object (pencils, papers, jewelry boxes, small objects) in their homes for the night.
5. Make sure folded clothing is in its proper drawer.
6. Lay out your outfit for the next school day.

So now you should have your task list. In order to help your children learn good habits, develop personal accountability and feel a sense of accomplishment, hold a 5-minute clean sweep every night in your home. Have the children run through every room picking up what they have left out that day. End in their bedroom where they complete their task lists.
No need to argue or have a conflict over this; just have them clean up re-ally quickly and tell them that anything you find still out of place goes into the Saturday Box.

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