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To want a 6 year old to tidy up?

(63 Posts)
bloodytidyup Sun 08-May-16 12:43:04

I'm hoping one of you mumsnet geniuses has found a solution to this and can share it with me. I have a very messy 6 year old boy. Me and DH are quite tidy people though our house is far from a showhome. Obviously I expect a certain amount of mess with a young child but it is getting out of hand. He has his own double bedroom with plenty of storage in there for toys. He also has a cupboard in the living room with some other toys, such as board games, stored in there. His room has so many toys across the floor (cars, lego, blocks, colouring pens, books, random plastic tat) that its hard to walk across. There are toys strewn across the living room, kitchen and landing. This is just from us being home most of the weekend. I want him to have the freedom to play and not place unrealistic restrictions on him but I can't bear the level of mess. When I try to get him to tidy, he is basically not able for the mammoth job and I end up doing it. Does anyone have any suggestions for getting him to be more tidy with his things?

CodyKing Sun 08-May-16 12:44:13

Nope - good luck with that!

shouldwestayorshouldwego Sun 08-May-16 12:46:34

Watching with interest. I have one of the same vintage, appears that they forgot the tidy chip that year.

AnnaMarlowe Sun 08-May-16 12:51:49

I have twins, one is naturally pretty tidy, the other is really, really not.

If you say 'tidy your room please' she's not unwilling but does look helplessly at you. She responds much better to 'tidy your room please: take all the toys off the floor; put all the Lego away in its box; put the books back on the shelf; hang up the dressing up clothes and put your craft stuff away in the drawer.'

'Tidy up' is too generic, she needs specific instructions.

Her brother just trots off and tidies. Horses for courses.

Tiopyn Sun 08-May-16 12:55:25

In theory: have an "x amount of toys at one time" rule. If he has lego and colouring books out, and wants to play with something else then he has to put the first items away - make it smaller tasks throughout the day rather than an overwhelming one.

And perhaps have "tidy up time" at the end of the day - our parents did when we were little and they sat it worked well. (Though I don't remember being particularly tidy as an older child/teen blush)

In practice though things don't always work as simply as that. I'll also be watching this one with interest - good luck!

AnnaMarlowe Sun 08-May-16 12:57:14

I have a friend who has tidy up music (something fast and perky) the song plays and they all run around madly tidying.

Birdsgottafly Sun 08-May-16 12:58:02

The only answer is too limit the toys available and get him into the habit of tidying when done.

This is only possible, if you and your DH are 'tidy as you go/finish' people, because you can't get him into habits that you haven't got.

Good storage/extra space can just equal stuff that you don't really make proper use of and be counter productive.

If it's any consolation, it gets easier after around 9, so in three years.

froggyjump Sun 08-May-16 13:05:38

break the instructions down - tidy your room is too big and generic, they don't know where to start. AnnaMarlowes list is great, but for many kids it's too much information at once, so break it down into parts

put all the lego in the box

hang up the dressing up clothes

put the books on the shelf

with time to do each thing.

Doing it together a few times, so you can say, 'put the lego away, like we did on Thursday' is good too.

For many kids a challenge/race motivates them too - who can put most stuff in the toy box in 30 seconds? How many things can you put away before I come up to check? etc

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Sun 08-May-16 13:07:45

I agree that younger children need to be told to tidy the toy cars... wait til its done... now put all the lego away... wait til its done... now the comics... now the pens... etc.

I don't like limiting what they have out at once though, because mixing "worlds" during imaginative play is a sign of a healthy mind apparently (used to be a child minder).. and my kids play brilliant games with housesmade of wooden bricks with book roofs, Playmobil people, diecast metal cars etc. all as part of the game world.

By 8 you can say tidy up and they can just do it without having the task broken down for them IME. Though throwing the actual tat out once every few months helps a lot.

bloodytidyup Sun 08-May-16 13:11:06

Thanks all for your suggestions so far. shouldwestay that made me smile about the tidy chip missing. He does just look at me helplessly and seems to have no awareness of the mess he makes or how to clear it up. Me and DH are definitely tidy as we go people so there we never really make a big mess if that makes sense. For those suggesting a limit on the number of toys, do you mean the number allowed to be out at once or do you put away some of the toys without access for a period of time (like a rotation system)?

Stanky Sun 08-May-16 13:13:23

I agree with breaking it down to smaller specific tasks, and then hopefully getting to a routine to maintain a certain level of tidiness.

We struggle with this too, and we do try to keep toys to their bedrooms. This works for a while, but they they end up migrating all over the house. Sometimes I can do it, and sometimes I just give up.

Afreshstartplease Sun 08-May-16 13:15:56

You need to encourage regular tidying

Put things away he isn't using before meals or before leaving the house. Making sure the room is decent each night before bed

AnnaMarlowe Sun 08-May-16 13:16:14

Yes Froggy is right, at six she had separate instructions.

Do X and let me see. Fantastic job, now do Y. Etc etc.

I also agree that praise is a big part of it. Some people are naturally quite good at being tidy some aren't - everyone can learn though.

I don't like to limit toys though. My DD plays highly imaginative, complicated games which can involve all the barbies, playmobil Knights, monster high dolls, hotwheels cars, teddies and Sylvanian families all mixed up together playing their parts. Saying "one thing at once" would spoil her games.

Any time I get too irritated at the mess I think about my friend's immaculate house. Her DC's rooms are always perfect but then they never play with their toys because they are stuck to a screen all day.

On balance I prefer "happy mess" grin

Bumshkawahwah Sun 08-May-16 13:18:49

My DD is a reasonably tidy 6 year old, luckily, but she does tend to amass ten tons of crap - think teddies, plus hair stuff plus blankets, plus kitchen toys, plus necklaces, bracelets and hats, dolls furniture, just to have a tea party with her bear.

Anyway, I normally ask her to tidy up at regular intervals. If she finishes one game, then goes onto other toys, then wants to play with something else, I'll ask her to tidy up the first lot of toys before she gets out another load.

Bumshkawahwah Sun 08-May-16 13:19:58

My DS on the other hand, fails to notice mess. He looks at me when I ask him to tidy up the mess as if to say 'what mess?'

TwoFs Sun 08-May-16 13:21:28

With my 5 & 8 yr olds we each have something to tidy, for example I'll say 5yr old, you tidy the cars, 8 yr old you tidy the Lego & I'll tidy the books (or sometimes I'll say I'll tidy the kitchen after tea!). It helps that we're all involved and they don't see it as just their chores, especially if I've been playing with them - I helped make the mess! 8 yr old is becoming more independent & is expected to keep her room tidy which is difficult for her as she freely admits to not caring about mess. 5 yr old has a small room so his toys seem to be all over the house! We have a big tidy up before tea each day and after tea they can choose what to play with but we have a one or two things only rule so it's easier to have a quick tidy before bed. We also have separate boxes/baskets for different things, makes tidying much easier so cars in one, dolls in one, trains & track in one and so on.

bloodytidyup Sun 08-May-16 13:28:37

Thanks, see I knew mumsnet was full of geniuses! I will trial giving specific instructions for specific things (bloody lego in particular), I will also trial a specific time of day. I have tried the tidying before bed thing but its his worst time of day and it often feels like a battle not worth picking.

olafforthewin Sun 08-May-16 13:42:49

Haven't read all the replies so apologies if already suggested.
Mission Impossible theme music for tidying up music.
Tidy up time.
'You do the Lego, I'll do the clothes. Whoever wins gets an ice cream/sweet/biscuit/banana'
All have been tried. We have a 6yo very easily distracted tidy-upper (oh a book, I must read it now!) a 5yo very lazy can't be arsed because someone else will do it for me tidy-upper and 3yo twins, one of which starts squealing at the top of her lungs in a pitch only canines can hear 'I need help, I can't do it on mine own, aaarrrfgggghhhhhh' and one that just doesn't even attempt to pretend he is going to help in any way at all and just wanders around holding one toy or staring at the telly or a door or out of the window (bless his little heart!!)

We have now resorted to payment. Into a money box. 50p each if bedrooms are tidy (and I make them do it properly as I am paying them) at bedtime. If 6yo tidies the girls bedroom by herself she gets £1. Same goes for if the 5yo tidies the boys by himself. Would apply to the twins too if there was ever a chance of that happening!!!

Nabootique Sun 08-May-16 13:53:32

Mine is 6 also. I don't let her have too much out at once if some earlier toys are being completely ignored. Those have to be tidied away first. If it's a tidying before dinner type thing I tell her she will need to tidy up in 10 minutes and not to get anything else out, then tell her when it is time to put everything away. I do usually help though, if it's a lot of fiddly bits, like "I'll do this bit, you do that bit".

bloodytidyup Sun 08-May-16 15:06:33

Big respect to you olaforthewin for what you must do in a day with four under six (makes my one six year old seem like a breeze)! I will consider the payment approach though part of me thinks he should just do it.

olafforthewin Sun 08-May-16 15:24:24

I think they should be able to just do it too. And payment is offered on the particularly difficult days. Sometimes we bypass that and threaten with a bin bag. But we realised they will happily pick everything off the floor to put in the bin but not to put in the toy box. Go figure that one out!!!

Brainnotbrawn Sun 08-May-16 15:28:46

I definitely 20th have less toys accessible and tidy up one toy at a time. My 10 year is just now at the stage where I can say tidy your room please. My 6 year old on the other hand is a born neat freak and keeps her personal surroundings immaculately tidy. My 4 year old needs constant input to tidy up but he will get there.

PastaLaFeasta Sun 08-May-16 15:36:19

Will read the responses as I have an almost six year old who will cry if told to tidy up, even a small amount. My four year old is even worse, it's like she's being tortured. DH is also messy and doesn't care about mess so I'm alone in this battle.

Specky4eyes Sun 08-May-16 15:41:54

Sounds like he has a lot of stuff.

Have you had a clear out recently as there will be less to pull out on the floor then.

I also give instructions as mentioned above.... Pick the books up, dirty clothes in the basket etc

bloodytidyup Sun 08-May-16 16:25:48

It seems like he does have a lot of stuff but I'm not sure what's normal. We definitely don't go overboard for christmas and birthdays but he gets a lot of stuff from extended family. There were 10 children at his birthday party in February and they each brought a present, plus he gets a party bag with plastic tat in it at every party he goes to. I have to clear stuff out by stealth though as he won't agree to giving anything away. Interesting to hear other parents say that they have some tidy and messy kids, I wondered if tidy kids existed!

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