This gem of an idea I have gleaned from Ian and Mary Grant of Parents Inc. ... and boy oh boy it works a treat.
The premise is simple: instead of having to nag, cajole and threaten your kids to tidy up their rooms/toys/mess, you put on the tidy-up-song and turn it into a race. In other words turn drudgery into fun.
We've been using The Macarena as our tidy-up song for over a year now. Whenever the kids hear that song cranked up, they sprint into their bedrooms and the race is on, no nagging required.
I used this idea recently when I hosted a coffee group. Of course I had spent ages cleaning and tidying to get the house ready for the guests' arrival, and with 14 or so little preschoolers playing for the morning, you can imagine the aftermath I would have been left with.
So I used the tidy-up song. I explained to the kids we were going to have a race to see who could tidy up their room the fastest and best. The boys would tidy Dash's room and the girls would do Princess' room. On went the song, and these little 2-4 years olds scurried to clean up as their mums watched, amazed and gobsmacked... "Who knew my kid could tidy up like that???"
There were quite a few requests for a copy of my tidy-up music, and I got txts from some of the mums who have started using the idea, telling me what a difference it's made.
Another friend was battling with trying to get her daughter ready and out the door for school. I emailed her the get-ready/tidy-up music idea and she sent me this email the next day:
"Thanks so much for your email yesterday. That is such a simple idea. My girls are really into Mama Mia and Abba at the moment so this morning I thought I'd try it. Ella completely surprised me and got so energised and got her tasks done within the songs. Oh my Goodness I have a different child on my hands!..."
So pick a song, any high-energy song (a longish one, say 4-5 minutes duration). It helps if the kids help in the choosing of it. Then try it out next time there's tidying to be done. Make sure the music is up nice and loud and can be heard from their bedrooms. Then stand back and be amazed... and pleasantly surprised!
(If you give this idea a try, let me know how you get on...)