How to Get Your Family to Clean Up After Themselves

There’s toys all over the floor, dishes in the sink, stains on the kitchen tile, and your family is off doing their own thing as if they don’t see the mess. You’re stuck doing the bulk of cleaning wondering how to get your family to clean up after themselves without starting WWIII.

Encourage your family to clean up after themselves by setting clear expectations, targets and following through with consequences. Start building habits with your children from a young age by making games out of cleaning up and offering incentives. Your kids learn from you so you need to model cleaning behaviours you want them to engage in!

How do you get people to help with housework?

If you feel that your house is always a mess, and you are left with the brunt of cleaning. You might be wondering how you can get your young kids and even potentially your partner to start cleaning up after themselves. If getting your family to start cleaning up after themselves is a radical change for your family, you’re going to want to set out a plan of attack for your best chance of success!

First you and your partner need to have the conversation and agree that you are both going to support each other in making the change. Then you are going to need to start with a pretty clean slate. If your house is covered in stuff out of place, there is going to be a lot of overwhelm for everyone to change their habits. If a messy house is causing you so much work and anxiety even, it might be a good idea to take stock of what you have and reduce! Just think, everything that is in your house is costing you. It is costing you space and time. A trinket on the window sill will need dusting, excessive toys need to be picked up, too many clothes mean you waste time looking for what you actually wear each day!

So I recommend to stop, and assess what you have. For excess items, try and sell them on Gumtree or Facebook or if money is not an issue and you just need to get your life in order give them away on ‘Buy Nothing’ platforms on Facebook or take them to your local Op Shop or Tip Reuse Shop. Unfortunately not all of what we accumulate can be rehomed, or reused, so you might need hire a skip bin service. Now for what is left, EVERYTHING NEEDS A PLACE! If you have little kids that will strew puzzles and toy sets across the house put them up high and bring them down when they want them, one at a time. There is no point in having a toy set if all the bits and pieces in are 100 different places. The kids can’t benefit from them, and they are creating more work and mess. So it is a loose / loose situation.

If you pick up after yourself, they are more likely to follow

how to get people to do housework

Remember, your family is watching you and your partner and listening to you even when you think they aren’t. If they see you make yourself a lunch and leave everything on the counter to deal with later, that’s exactly what they are going to do but on a much larger scale. They will leave their toys out, their food out, their crafts out, etc. because it’s what you do. Unfortunately, the “do as I say, not as I do” mantra is rarely effective in this department!

Take the time to clean up after yourself and maybe even consider getting your kids involved in the cleaning process with you. Most kids enjoy doing these things with their family members as it makes them feel needed and important. This is a great way to model what you want them to do with their own belongings!

How do I get my family to do chores?

Try the ‘First, Then’ method. This is a popular method amongst childcare workers, but the method works wonders on day to day families and even adults! The first, then method is a motivation method used to entice people do something they are not interested in doing.

Let’s use the example of having your 13-year-old clean up their arts and crafts project they just made. When they are done and you see them walking away to go and do something else, interrupt them and ask they what they want to do (let’s say they tell you that they want to go play outside). You then use the first, then method to say “okay, first clean up arts and crafts, then you can go outside”. Cleaning up teaches a child to appreciate the effort that goes into doing a job. It also teaches them to care for what they own by cleaning, maintaining or putting it away where it belongs

By denying them access to what they want initially, you increase their motivation to clean up their mess. Be sure you are stern about this method though. You want to be taken seriously when you present it, especially if this isn’t your first go-around with trying to get your family to clean up after themselves! Be friendly and nice, but stern. Your attitude matters.

Make a game out of cleaning up!

If you happen to have a family that loves to play games and may even be a little bit competitive, turning cleaning up into a game may be the way to go for you. Kids in particular loves fast-paced, loud games that get them moving around and engaged. If you can pull out some of your inner creativity, you can have your family cleaning up after themselves in record time! But you might be wondering, how can I make cleaning up more fun?

A competitive game example: Cleaning up the toy blocks all over the floor (2 children)

Separate the blocks into two distinct piles with an equal number of blocks (or your closest approximation). Have one kid on each side of the room with their pile of blocks. Stand in the middle of the two piles with the bin the blocks go in. Tell the kids whoever gets all their blocks in the bin first wins an extra 5 minutes of TV time, but here’s the catch. They have to get all the blocks in without using their hands! They can carry them over in their shirt, hop them over with their feet, put them on their back and crawl, etc.

Not only is this a fun way to get them to clean up after themselves, but it also forces your kids to use their creativity in a way that is also helpful to you!

Encourage tidiness by implementing a token system

A token system is a reward system that requires the subject to earn x-amount of tokens before getting a reward of some kind. There are numerous ways to go about creating a token system, but here’s a basic outline for one:

Child earns one token on their token board for each time they clean up their plate at the dinner table during the 7-day week. At the end of the week, if the child has earned 7 tokens, they receive a reward.

Some examples of tokens include:

  • Stickers
  • check marks
  • stamps
  • smiley faces
  • velcro coins
  • Physical items such as coins, marbles, etc.

These tokens are placed on the board each time they complete the preferred task. Once they reach the number required, they get a small reward! Some examples of token-system rewards can be:

  • An extra few minutes of TV-time
  • Staying up an extra five minutes
  • Getting a special dessert
  • Picking out a dinner for the next week

You want this reward to be something small, but enticing enough so that their motivation stays high, but you don’t find yourself spending tons of money on new toys or trips each week/day either!

Offer an allowance

Regardless of the age of the people you are essentially bribing, everyone enjoys getting paid for doing something they otherwise would not want to do. Consider offering your family a few coins for cleaning up after themselves at the dinner table or when they finish using a toy.

The key here is to fade this monetary influence out as the act of cleaning up after themselves becomes a habit for them. Start by offering the money reward each time you see them clean up after themselves, then slowly fade it out over time as it becomes habit. Your children should know that they don’t get paid every time they do something they should already be doing, but sometimes, especially when this is a new task or something they are heavily resistant towards, it helps to offer an incentive.

Getting your family to clean up after themselves can be a bit of a guessing game at first, but there is a method for everyone! Whether you have to offer a monetary incentive, make a fun game out of cleaning up, or simply model the behavior a few times first, your family will learn. Remember to be the role model, be stern but loving, and stick to your token systems and rewards and you’ll have a consistently clean house in no time!

What we hope is that you now have some great information to empower you get some momentum on getting your family to help do the housework. What new actions will you take, starting from today?

Want to learn more about how to manage your stuff, reduce waste and recycle. Read some of our other articles such as The 4 Best Ways to Recycle and Reuse Yard Waste or How To Use Trees To Save Water In Your Garden.

Unfortunately, there are some times where we do just need to get rid of trash. If you need to contact a Canberra Skip bin Hire company be sure to give us a call on 0416 192 348