Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Cleaning Up: Lessons from Mary Poppins


In the words of the beautiful, skinny, never-stressed, flawless-skinned, practically perfect in every way, but we can’t hate her ‘cause she’s just so dang happy all the time Mary Poppins:

"In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun.
You find the fun and snap!
The job's a game"

She was brilliant, wasn’t she? Did she end up with Bert? Bert was endearing and all, but I think she could have done way better. She could fly, for goodness sake.

Anyhow, she was really on to something when she turned work into a game for Jane and Michael Banks. And I’m not talking Barney’s ‘clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere.’ No, Mary really and truly made cleaning up a fun game for the kids. Granted, we can’t make the toys fly the way she did (If you can do this, email me with instructions). But we can think of ways to take the work out of cleaning up so that it has ‘an element of fun.’

Next time you hear the groans or see the stiff head shakes in response to a clean up request, try one of these clean-up games:

1.     Color Clean-Up – One person calls out a color, and everyone scrambles to find a toy of that color that needs to be put away. After you put said toys away, whoever found the first toy of that color gets to choose the next color. Make this more difficult for older children by using shapes or materials (plastic, cloth, etc).
2.      Musical Clean-Up – Play this musical chairs inspired game with multiple children. Turn on some music and see how many items each child can put away before the music stops (Mom/Dad gets to be the maestro). Instead of someone being ‘out’ (this would lengthen the clean-up time and possibly cause tears), give a prize to the winner of each round (a sticker, a piece of candy, and extra five minutes of play before bed).
3.     Alphabet Clean-Up – Clean things up in alphabetical order! A is for art and paints, B is for Barbies, C is for Crayons, D is for dolls…you get it. Letting your kiddo find an item for each letter will not only help her feel independent, but it also allows her to practice her letters!

It can be tough to find the fun in chores like cleaning up toys, but these games offer quick, easy ways to achieve a complaint- and tear-free clean-up. Mary Poppins would be proud!


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