6 Tear-Free Ways to Get Kids to Clean {Plus Your Summer Reading List!}

One thing I’m asked regularly is how to get kids to do their chores. I avoided answering this question for a long time because chores with kids is tough, especially when the parents (re: me) aren’t perfect at maintaining a clean home, either.

But something I’ve learned is that while my kids and I aren’t perfect, we can make progress, and that progress makes a huge positive difference in our home!

Here are 6 ways I’ve learned to get kids to clean, sans tears:


1) Talk about what’s expected.

Needing to put dirty clothes in the hamper may seem like common sense to us, but it’s not always obvious to our kids. So make sure they know what is expected. You can do this by posting a simple chore chart, having a family meeting, and offering frequent gentle reminders.


2) Show how to complete a chore.

It’s important to make sure our kids really know how to accomplish a task and teaching chore completion is best done in 4 steps:

  • Have your child watch you do the chore.
  • Instruct your child to help you complete the chore.
  • Allow your child to lead while you assist with the chore.
  • Child does chore unassisted (don’t forget to check their work!).


3) Keep tasks manageable.

Have you ever walked into a room, felt incredible overwhelmed, and walked right back out? Me too! Sometimes our kids feel the same way and need help breaking down tasks.

For example, instead of just saying, “Clean your room,” try offering step-by-step guidance such as, “Put your shoes in the closet.” When they finish, you can tell them to put their dirty clothes in the hamper. Keep going until the room is clean. Offer lots of praise and gentle redirection along the way!


4) Teach by example.

When I was recently lamenting to my husband that our kids left their shoes and bags all over the kitchen again, he gently told me that I leave my shoes and purse out nearly every day too. Ouch!

He was right though and went on to say that our children will never learn to develop good cleaning habits if the example they’re seeing is to dump everything on a table. The same goes with the rest of the house – do our kids see us leaving the kitchen a mess when we’re done cooking? If so, why would they think they need to clean up their stuff when they’re finished with it?!

We need to remember that regardless of the chores we assign we’re also setting a huge example, so let’s make sure we’re working to set a good example instead of a bad one. (Check out my secret Facebook group if you’d like a little extra accountability in this area.)


5) Follow through on appropriate consequences.

If steps 1-4 are followed and you’re still having trouble getting your kids to clean, then it’s time to take things a bit further by giving appropriate consequences.

For example, the children who didn’t put their toys away before a bedtime story may need to miss the story so they can finish cleaning. The kid who complains about taking their plate to the sink can earn a week of dinnertime dish duty so they can practice completing the chore with a good attitude.

Children are quick learners and when they see that their actions have real consequences, it’s amazing how efficiently they can work!

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6) Stay consistent and diligent.

Being a parent is tough sometimes, but we need to persevere!

It does often takes more time to train our kids than it takes to clean something alone, but we need to remind ourselves that we’re training our little ones for adulthood and if we want them to succeed later, we need to teach them today.


Relaxing at home after my children helped clean was a wonderful birthday gift!

What tear-free tips would you add to this list of how to get your kids to help clean?

P.S. Your Summer Reading List


I want to make sure my readers know the 2015 Build Your Bundle Sale is here! I’ve seen a lot of book bundles over the past few years and this is by far the most versatile one I’ve come across.

You can pick any one of the 19 bundles (I love the mom bundles & the bundle just for girls!) or you can build your own bundle (my favorite option!) to customize it exactly the way you want.

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PS Two of my books are in Mom Bundle #1 so if you’ve been thinking about purchasing 28 Days to Timeliness or Chaos to Clutter-Free, then you’ll definitely want to check this out!


You can view all of the bundles here and see details about the awesome FREE BONUSES, worth hundreds of dollars, here.

Buildyourbundlenow1{Affiliate links are used in this post.}

Dear Mom Who Stinks at Housekeeping

Dear Mom Who Stinks at Housekeeping,

I know what your house looks like right now. Yesterday’s dishes aren’t rinsed, there are crumbs and toys on the living room floor, and laundry is everywhere except the drawers. Plus scrubbing the slightly slimy bathtub isn’t even on your radar because first you’d have to toss the mostly empty shampoo bottles and moldy rubber duckies.

No, I’m not spying on you. I just know your type because I am your type. In fact, if there was a contest for being the worst housekeeper ever, I just might win the prize.

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But you know what? Not being a naturally good housekeeper doesn’t mean we can’t learn. Sure, it takes time. And it’s tough. We have to dig deep, in both our homes and in our hearts, to sift through the grime and clean things out. We have to be willing to change habits, to admit our faults, and to give up a little bit of R&R to get our homes in order (but who can really rest or relax in a mess anyways?).

This Mother’s Day, let’s give ourselves the gift of hope and the gift of a clean house. Here are five things we can do to get started:

1) Just do something.

This is always my first housekeeping tip. Why? Because when we look at a room and see a giant mess, we feel overwhelmed and just want to walk away. But if the kitchen is a disaster, we can start by unloading and reloading the dishwasher. Even if we don’t have time or are too overwhelmed to clean the entire kitchen, we’re still making progress.

This principle works for the entire house, as well as life in general. Just do something.


2) Throw things out!

It’s hard to organize clutter, so toss, toss, toss. There’s no good reason to hold onto things that are dragging us down, plus living in a mess is draining and exhausting. Let’s get our energy back as we release stuff we no longer need!

3) Set limits.

Our kids don’t need to eat anywhere but the kitchen table. They also don’t need to drag out every single toy while they’re playing. And if they want to make a fort, they can have just as much fun with one blanket as they’d have with ten.

So do your family a favor and set gentle limits that will make clean-up easier for everyone.

4) Enlist help.

We’re the mom, not the maid! If you’re often feeling taken for granted as you repeatedly clean up after your family members, then definitely take a minute to read how to get your kids to willingly pitch in with chores. If we’re not making the messes by ourselves, then we shouldn’t be cleaning the messes alone, either!


5) Offer grace.

Forming good habits takes time. Offer grace to yourself, your spouse, and your children as you work together towards having a clean and organized home.

Mom who stinks at housekeeping, you’re not lazy. You are not a failure. And you’re not incompetent. You just need a little guidance. Let me help you. Browse around my blog or treat yourself to a copy of my eBook, Chaos to Clutter-FreeIt’s an easy read filled with inspiring quotes, embarrassing housekeeping confessions, and practical tips that will teach you how to transform your home, room by room, into a relaxing haven. No more shushing the kids and hiding from view when the doorbell rings!


Learning to become clutter-free is about more than getting rid of stuff. It’s about creating room for life to happen, for memories to be made, and for loved ones to gather.

Mom who stinks at housekeeping, we can do this!

The Tidy (and Sometimes Very Un-Tidy) Mom,

PS I’ve gotten together with several other bloggers to offer a series full of letters to encourage and inspire moms just like you! So pour yourself a glass of lemonade and take a few minutes to relax as you let the beautiful messages soak in and soothe your soul.

Dear Mom Blog Hop


And now for a Mother’s Day giveaway!


Mother's Day Giveaway Pin Blank


The prizes will be as follows –

Prize 1 – Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
Prize 2 – Slow Cooker

Prize 3 – Keurig Coffee Maker
Prize 4 – ALL 3 of the prizes above

Each winner will also win a digital copy of I’d Rather Be Your Mommy by Stacy Farrell




Use the Rafflecopter form below to enter: {The giveaway has ended and winners will be announced soon!}

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Why I Hated Chore Charts, Plus a FREE Printable

I stare at my taunting list, acutely aware of the many items not crossed off. Deeply defeated, I sink into a chair, head in hands on the cold table, and wonder why I can’t get it together. After several minutes of silent self-criticism, I slowly pull my weary body up so I can go climb into bed, too discouraged to put forth any more effort.

After repeating the above scenario more times than I can count, I decided that chore charts and lengthy to-do lists simply weren’t for me. And for years, I did just fine without them.

But after I started working full-time again, I knew my family needed a very efficient system in place. I also knew the system had to be really easy or we wouldn’t maintain it. So I carefully created a simple chore list.


I determined two important details right away:

1) Our chore list will aide our routine, not dictate our schedule.

We have not completely followed the list one single time since posting it on our fridge. But our mornings run much smoother now because I can say, “Check the list,” to my kids instead of verbally running through every item repeatedly.

In the evenings, when my mind is tired, I just glance at the list. It tells me what to do. I can choose not to follow through, of course. But having that gentle suggestion ready when I want it is very helpful.

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2) We won’t play catch-up.

I really love that completing a couple of simple chores each day helps keep the home looking nice much of the time.

But we won’t play catch-up. If my family doesn’t scrub the main bathroom on Monday, it can wait until Thursday. If we don’t vacuum or mop this week, we can do it next week. No big deal.

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The Printables!

Today I want to share my family’s lists with you. The first two pages, shown above, are exactly what we have hanging on our own fridge. The other two pages, shown below, are perfect for those of you who would like to write down different chores.

Print one if you need a simple routine. Print several if you’d like to vary your list each week.

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Go here to download your FREE daily and weekly chore list printables! Customizable pages are included!

Remember, though, whether you use a ready-made chart or create your own, you are in charge of your list, not the other way around. Don’t let any chart be be the boss of your family or tell you how to feel!

And for those of you with pre-readers in your home, I’ve got you covered, too! Print and laminate the chart below, and let your little ones put a sticker on it after they finish each chore. Remove stickers each day or once a week. Repeat.

Or just print it and put it on your fridge. No lamination or stickers needed.

Remember, you don’t work for the chart, the chart works for you. You’re the boss.

Your Daily Chore Chart FREE Printable from The Tidy Mom

Go here to download your FREE daily chore chart printable!
{This one is perfect for all ages, including pre-readers.}

I’d love to hear – do you have good success with chore charts?

PS I have an amazing giveaway for you this weekend. You are going to LOVE it and I can hardly wait to share!

PPS If chore time with your children often feels like an impossible battle, I highly recommend reading this post about how to get your kids to willingly pitch in with chores. I can guarantee the answer is not what you think!



The Best Housekeeping Reminder You’ll See This Year

There are so many thoughts and posts in my heart right now. But I’ve committed to taking care of my own home before writing about housekeeping. You understand, right? Family before Internet!

So today, I simply want to share a gem of wisdom I first read in a book a few years ago:


Take a minute to ponder that sentence and let the message sink in a bit.

“The bitterness of living in a mess remains long after the sweetness of resting is forgotten.” Sandra Felton, The Messies Manual

Even if we don’t have all day to clean, most of us can still give our homes a few minutes, can’t we? We know all too well the bitterness of a mess. Let’s leave that bitterness behind and instead seek the reward of an organized home!

For more short nuggets of housekeeping encouragement, follow me on Instagram, like me on Facebook, or join the challenge. If you’d rather have a complete room-by-room organization guide, then make sure to check out my new book – it’s packed with inspiring information and helpful how-to’s.

What’s one thing you’re going to do to take care of your home today?