Clutter Control With 5 Minute Pick-Ups


clutter control post

Are you overwhelmed by the end of the day when your house looks like a tornado went through it? It is no fun to sit and relax, read a book, watch a movie, or check your email, when you know that there is a big mess waiting for you. Well, it isn’t fun for me…. some people can probably live with it! 🙂

My house is normally pretty neat and organized. It isn’t because I live with a bunch of organized people, my kids are MESSY! However I have trouble staying on track when I’m surrounded by clutter distractions, so I try to keep clutter to a minimum.

We do this with 5 minute pick-ups. My older kids will tell you that these are more like “clean up until it is clean pick-ups” but honestly, if you do 7 to 10 of these a day your house will organized and clutter free.

When all my kids were younger, we did a 5-minute pick up every hour. It was a break from routine and it kept things from getting out of control.

Now that my kids are a bit older and I don’t have sweet little toddlers running around making messes we do it a few times a day. Usually in the morning after breakfast, then after lunch, and again before dinner.

Sometimes we throw in one more pick up before bed if needed.

Even if your children are young they can participate in the pick-ups. 5 minute picks ups are actually a great way to teach toddlers how to clean. Most young children can stay on task for a few minutes without getting distracted.

I believe young children get overwhelmed with huge messes. It is much easier for them to pick up a few things, than an entire room filled with toys, shoes, bedding, and clothes. Short frequent pick-ups eliminate giant messes (for the most part) and kids learn to maintain their space.

In our house, one or two people are assigned an area to clean up and they work quickly for a few minutes putting things away. If there is a larger mess we will often all work together, but it works well to send the kids off in pairs (if you have enough kids). If you have young children work with them to pick up their area.

Make it fun, put on some music, and work together. They might have so much fun they won’t even know they are cleaning!

If you need an ideas for age appropriate chores for kids download my free chore checklist.

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  1. I do exactly the same thing. In my case, we leave the house at least 2 times a day, so we do our clean ups at those times, plus at the times before we eat. So, I’ll say, “let’s clean up before we go to school” or “let’s clean up before we eat lunch”. It works pretty well, at least for the areas downstairs that I see and that bug me. I do a little bit of straightening every night after the kids are in bed so that it looks clean to me, and then I can go put my feet up. (Of course, their bedrooms and the playroom are all upstairs and we are a little more lax about them because they are out of my direct sight…but I still get them to pick those up every few days as well. It makes me feel better and I like to think I am raising kids with the same values as me!

  2. Thanks for this. We’re about to start homeschooling (on Monday– ek!) and I’m concerned by how I’m going to keep the house clean while adding one more major thing to my day each day. I’m going to implement this from the start.

  3. I think this is a great idea that is SO simple!! I can’t believe I hadn’t actually heard of this. I’ve heard of the “10 Minute Tidy”, but that was generally before nap & bed times. I guess this would work when the kids are older, but I LOVE this 5 minute pick ups on the hour. Will begin implementing this immediately! Thanks for sharing.

  4. We did something very similar to this. Even the smallest toddler can participate. When my boys were young, we made it competitive. At high school and college age it was more of a whole family deal. The boys and my husband and I would each take a room, work frantically for 30 minutes and then feel free to enjoy the rest of the day clutter free. It is astounding what you can get done in a few minutes and the burst of energy, followed by all that ‘neat and tidy’ does wonders for moods. :o) There is a draw-back. We are empty nesters now so half our workforce is gone! lol

  5. Such an incredible and simple thing that could transform a home! Thank you so much for sharing. 🙂 I linked to you here

  6. Adrienne says:

    I love this idea! But I can’t figure out how to get my 3-year-old to help. He’ll be four soon, so he’s on the tail end of three. No matter how much music or encouragement I use, or how many times I say “come on, we’re all working together and then we can play!” he just won’t. I try giving him a small specific task, but he’ll either ignore me or just refuse. Occasionally it will work if I threaaten or bribe him such as “you won’t be able to watch any TV today unless you help us pick up!” but even then, sometimes he’ll just go all day without watching TV and be fine. It makes the 8-year-old and 5-year-old mad that they are helping and he is not (it’s hard to get them to help too, but not as hard as him). I swear, my 2-year-old daughter is better than any of my boys at putting things away. Getting them to actually help me and accomplish something takes me so much time and energy that I often give up. I have felt that my 3-year-old was too old to punish for not cleaning up and that he just needs to be encouraged and taught and it will take time. But honestly, I’m not so sure – should I be disciplining him for not doing housework? Any brilliant ideas??

  7. Nadine Pace says:

    Hi, thanks for your really helpful article. We’ve just moved and no longer have a full time house helper so now we do the house cleanup before we start school. Each child has a task (10 and 7 year old) each day and it has really helped to keep the house clean. I’ve implemented a clean up as you’re done policy which has seriously helped with keeping the clutter down to a minimum. It’s actually just my 11 month olds toys which lie around the house for ages. I’m putting baskets in every room to throw the toys into before we leave that room. Definately find to keep on top of the clutter is the only way ;o)

  8. Thanks for the post! I like the suggestions! I should try them. ASAP!!!!

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