Mom shares idea for getting kids to clean up toys without complaining: "It's a game, and it makes it fun"

Amy Christie

Puzzle bits sprinkled all over the house, toy trucks and dolls jumbled together, and no way of getting to the sofa except by stealthy jumps? If your living room looks like this often, a mom's "mystery item" game may be the solution for getting your kids to clean up fast.

Reclaiming your walking or sofa space will be a lot easier if you try the game. After all, the Utah mom admits it's great to have active, curious, and playful kids. And if they can also use those abilities to make the living room look nice again, that will be a real gain.

What are the details?

For many parents cleaning up scattered toys is turning into a daily exercise, with many attempts needed to convince kids to gather them up nicely when they're done playing for the day. Molly Robinson, a mother of four from Utah, has found a game that works for her every time.

No more complaining and extra excitement included; her kids are actually happy to gather toys and compete to the very last Lego piece or doll.

The mother chooses a "mystery item," keeps it in mind, and after that, she has all her kids put away the toys without knowing what the selected object is. Once everything looks nice and clean again, and every toy is back to its proper place, the child who picked up the chosen item will win a prize.

The amazing result of this game always ends up in a ton of little hands willing to help and scramble to see who gets what and where the next prize could be hiding.

Robinson started using this method a few years ago, and it hasn't ever failed her. The mom insists this is not about undermining the value of obedience but that playing this game makes cleaning more interesting.

"It's always worked. It's a game, and it makes it fun. I feel like kids naturally are a little competitive, and so, of course, they want to be the one that wins," Robinson shared with The Epoch Times.

The only trouble this method could bring about is a few tears because everyone wants to win. While the winner gets a little prize, like a piece of candy, it comes as no surprise that there might be a few tears from the other kids who didn't get to taste it.

To avoid kids getting upset, Robinson always warns them before they start that only one of them can win.

"This is kind of a life lesson—you're not always going to win," the mom added.

Robinson also has an online page where she shares "mom tidbits' and does her best to help other parents. Several moms messaged her about the "mystery item" game, and so far, the results have been mixed. While the game is not a guaranteed fit for all families, there are times when it works out great.

Even though the cleaning trick will not work in every case, Robinson is convinced that this type of game is part of positive reinforcement and commending kids for every job well done. According to Robinson, once the kids realize there will be positive attention after a specific action, they are more likely to repeat it in the future.

"Instead of just paying attention to the naughty behavior, you'll have a better reaction if you pay attention to the good behavior," Robinson said.

After all, whether you have a spotless living room or toys are still hanging around, the essential thing is for your kids to know just how much you love them.

"There are so many things that can go wrong in a day. As long as they all know you love them, I think you can call that a win," the mom concluded.


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Amy Christie is a passionate writer and journalist, always striving to bring out the positive and create meaningful connections.

Dallas, TX

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