Do You Have Your Childs Friend Help Clean up the Toys?

Updated on August 22, 2011
S.!. asks from Boulder, CO
23 answers

I have mixed feelings on this one. My son has a friend in the neighborhood that gets off the bus with my son and stays at our house for 45 mins everday. The boys play very well together - but are like tazmania and my sons room is a total wreck by the time it is time for the boy to go home. I have tried nicely and gently telling the boys they should put away a toy before they get the next one out, or I have tried telling them 10 mins before he has to go home that they should start picking up. (this also happens to our garage when I have the boys play outside instead of inside). This little guy really never helps pick up. I don't demand it since he is a gues in our house, but then my son gets mad that he is the sole responsible one to clean up before the end of the night. I have talked with my son explaining about having guests in our home, but that if he wants his friend to help pick up the toys that he needs to find his voice and tell his friend to help him pick up and that mom can not just demand a guest to help pick up toys.

Do you think that is ok with me to have my son use his own voice to have his friend help pick up? Do you encourage your childs friend to pick up before they leave? Do you have a set rule in your house that everyone contributes to pick up or just your own kids/you?

I have taught our kids to ALWAYS pick up their own messes - especially in someones else's home. So what is your rules for your home and other people's children and clean up?


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So What Happened?

Forgot to add - The friend is newly 7 and my son is 5 1/2. thanks!

No - the mom's boy has given her kids the basement and no toys are ever cleaned up there (since the basement is for the kids).

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answers from Hartford on

Guests or not, if another child is in my home and makes a mess or contributes to making a mess with toys then they have to help clean up. My kids have to help clean up at other peoples' homes because it's good manners and that's just what you do. It's perfectly within the parent's rights to firmly insist that all children participating in mess making clean up.

When it comes to meals and snacks, the rule is that they bring plates, forks, and glasses to the sink and wrappers to the garbage. I'll take care of overwhelming spills and crumbly messes that need to be vacuumed, or dirt that's been tracked in. But whatever I expect of my children is expected of their guests.

It's the same not only in my personal circle of friends and their children, but my daughters' friends from school. I'm friends and friendly with their parents and I know that they feel the exact same way.

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answers from Tucson on

I have a rule in my house that you can only take out one toy at a time. You have to put that toy away before you play with another one.
It doesnt always work if i cant be right there to constantly supervise, but my dd knows that if she doesnt remind her friends of this rule she is stuck cleaning up by herself.
My dad has 7 yr old twins that are 10 months younger than my 8 yr old and they are the worst. They dont clean up. They walk around in circles moving things around. It drives me nuts and my dad doesnt make them clean up before they leave.
I always have my dd clean up before we leave someones house.

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answers from Washington DC on

You need to make the kid pick up the toys before he goes home. His parents can wait for him to pick it up. If you need to go in and supervise, do it. Your son should not have to do it by himself...

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answers from Honolulu on

You are the Mom... and YES you CAN demand that 'guests' pick up before they go home.
Do not only expect your son, to say this.
You need to rally by his side, and enforce this. WITH your son, as a 'Team.'

ANY play-date I have, or other kids, I DO TELL THEM TO CLEAN UP before they go home. Their Moms know this. They have no problem with this.

And if the guest does not clean up, it is not your son's, fault.
He tries his best.
And yes, if I were your son too, I would get mad too.... if I were the ONLY one 'responsible' for cleaning up.

You are the Mom... you have to enforce your rules. And of the guest.
AND don't be coy about it.
You are the Adult.

Different homes, have different rules.
And as a guest, being a good guest ALSO MEANS.... being courteous and respectful, in another person's home.

A SEVEN YEAR OLD... is old enough to understand this.

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answers from Lynchburg on

Hi Sam-

I have a 'rule' in my are a 'guest' on the first visit.

IF you choose to return to our 'chaotic' home, you are then 'family' and participate as part of the family...same rules/expectations/warmth/love ALL apply!

Funnily enough...most people 'come back'!

They are both old enough to be cleaning up...

Best Luck!

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answers from Houston on

There is a strict "help clean up" policy in my house and when my kids visit their friends i make sure they are cleaning up as well.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Albuquerque on

For random playdates - no, I don't ask the other kids to help clean up. It's just easier to usher them out the door and tackle the mess afterwards. But for a regular playtime like your son's, yes, I'd expect both boys to clean up. And since the other boy's mother doesn't make him clean up - I think the direction needs to come from you, not your son. You might need to explain *how* to clean up to this little guy. Things like telling him to tackle the Legos first, or pick up one thing and you'll match it. Or suggest they each clean up one corner of the room and then they can be done. Start small and hopefully he'll learn that it's expected at your house.

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answers from Minneapolis on

It sounds like you the regular after-school care for this boy. This is not a friend your son has invited over, just so he can have play time with him. If he WAS just a friend you and your son invited over to play, then you could talk to your son about how good friends help clean up together. You and your son will both set a "clean up time" and ask nicely that the friend please help clean up the toys they played with together. I wouldn't press it with the boy if he refuses If he does not help, and this leaves your son a huge mess to clean up himself, I would explore inviting some different playmates over next time. Your son learns he has choices, and those who do not treat their friends homes with respect don't get invited over very often. Since it sounds like you have an arrangement with his Mom to care for him after school, your son has no choice in the matter, not an easy position to be in. I would talk to his Mom. "Say, my son never tires spending time with Johnny, he really enjoys his company and we're glad to be able to have him over after school. But our house rule is that everyone who plays, helps clean up. Johnny does not help pick up the toys when I ask him to. And this leaves my son with a significant mess everyday, which is becoming stressful to him. Would you please speak with Johnny about helping clean up the toys he plays with?" I would try that approach, and if it doesn't improve, you may have to be willing to supervise them closely and limit the toys they are allowed to play with, have them play "outside only" or gently tell Johnny's Mom your arrangement isn't working out if all else fails.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Well, if your son gets upset that he has to clean up, have him tell his friend to help him before he goes home.

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answers from Cleveland on

Yes, the friend should help clean up. (That child is there every day after school - he is no longer a guest!) And you should be the one telling him to, since your son is still so young.

Personally, I'd tell them they have to play outside! If the friend complains, tell him why. Say, "Well, you guys make too much of a mess in the house, so until you learn to clean up what you play with, you have to play outside."

And, really, it's not like that should be a hardship or live in CA! You're not forcing them out into the harsh elements! : )

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answers from Richmond on

My house my rules, and the rule is, if you make the mess, you clean it up.

If you know the child is only there for 45 minutes, let them play for 30, then set the timer for the last 15 minutes and have them make a game of seeing who can clean the most before the timer goes off.

Even if they pick up 1/2 the stuff, that will help a LOT!

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answers from Jacksonville on

I'd say you need to be the one in charge of clean up time. Otherwise, your son may get frustrated and not enjoy playing with his friend. He needs to hear from you that in your house, you pick up all toys before moving on the the next activity...even if the next activity is going home.

I'd also give them set things to play with so the entire room isn't destroyed. When my son's friends play over we make the closet off limits.

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answers from Los Angeles on

i would tell them point blank at the time they get home that they will be cleaning up their mess before he leaves and if he doesnt then he wont get to come over and play. he may be a guest but he should abide by your house rules. my daughter is 4 and her friends that are 4 and 3 help clean up at my house and we help clean up at theirs.

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answers from Tulsa on

YOU need to tell the boy that he is going to pick up toys before leaving and you need to sit in there with them, only letting him get one toy out at a time. I would be ticked and start disliking having a friend over if I got stuck cleaning up the mess.

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answers from Boston on

Yes I do. I babysit for a boy he's here one day a week. I have the kids clean up before lunch and again about 10 minutes before his mom gets here. I don't ask I simply say "it's time to clean up" maybe he doesn't have to clean at home or maybe his mom helps maybe try giving small tasks. Tell one boy to clean up all the cars and the other to pick up the blocks. For some kids a mess is just to overwhelming.

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answers from Chicago on

Yes, we always help clean up the toys when my kids play at other people's homes, and we expect the same when we have friends, or cousins, here. It works best if I join in and give directions, perhaps holding the bins for them while they toss the toys in.

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answers from Chicago on

My suggestion is when the kids get off the bus have them sit at the table and have a snack and then do homework. and 20 mins of reading. then if there is time they can play with something that they bring out of the bedroom. 1 something lol. not everything in the room. your child should not have to clean up after this kid each day and neither should you. our rule with friends was always that the toys had to be picked up before the other kid could leave. but it sounds like you babysit this kid and its not a playdate so you need a different rule in place. one that makes you the leader lol

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answers from Sioux City on

If you make a mess, you better be prepared to clean it up and it doesn't matter who's you are. You could get the ball rolling with a little snack though. I often insist that all toys be picked up before meals or snacks. Get a really good snack and tell them they can have one once the toys are picked up. I wouldn't leave it to a five year old to tell his friend to help pick up, especially if the boy is a couple of year older.

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answers from St. Louis on

I always have my son pick up after his guests, HOWEVER, I do not have someone over at my house daily the way you do. In that case, and based upon their ages, I would say it is completely appropriate for your son to speak up and ask for a little help picking up. Great life lessons for all here!

Good luck!

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answers from Toledo on

Yes he should clean up, and yes your son can use his words and tell him it is time to pick up and in your house it is your if he wants to come play after school, he need to help. Evenif rules are different at his house they will adapt to what they can and can not get away with at others.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Yes, I think the other boy should help clean up toys, especially since he is there every single day. That should just be part of the routine. Since he is older than your son, I wonder if he's taking advantage a little bit. He should be setting an example though, not making a mess and leaving it for the younger guy to handle on his own.

Are you babysitting him or does he come just for fun? If it's just fun, you can always tell him that he can't come anymore if he doesn't help clean up at the end of the day. And if you're babysitting, you can talk to his mom and ask for her help in getting him to pick up before he goes home.

I always have my son help clean up before we leave a friend's house and he is only four. The only time i don't is if the other mom INSISTS that we leave the mess (and even then, I feel bad).

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answers from Savannah on

My son and his friends are all 4, so they play in the playroom and then about 15 minutes before time to leave, I'll go in the playroom and say "Ok guys! Pick ONE toy that you're going to play with after we clean, and put it over here. Now let's put everything else away quickly. The faster we clean up our mess, the more time you have with the toy you picked out. And then I help, and encourage. We've got a 8 cube shelving unit from Ikea, and we bought crates for each shelf, and each crate is for a specific type of toy. I will say "Ok, all trains! Bring all train stuff here!" and we'll gather up tracks and trains and dump them in that crate, then move on to tools, action figures and dinosaurs, etc. You can tell that some children don't clean at home but I have found that if you "help" and call out what needs to be picked up next "dinosaurs!" and say it in a matter of fact but fun voice (think fun coach, not sugary sweet neighbor lady), the kids pick up, the room is clean in 10 minutes, and they can have some time to play quietly downstairs with a toy of their choice. Another option when I would provide short term childcare (like 30 minutes) after school for a few children would be BEFORE they arrive, I'd have something ready for them. Sometimes some watercolors, clay projects, or a roll of butcher paper where they can do some drawing, coloring, finger painting, etc...sometimes a snack and Looney Tunes shorts, sometimes balls or some type of backyard game or activity, sometimes just ONE crate of toys brought down.....that way the pickup is minimal. My rule is that my son knows he needs to help pick up, especially whatever he was playing with. It's only "fair". I also don't think it's wrong to have the other children pick up their messes as well. The more rare their visits, the less I'd push it, but if they are at your house everyday, they can be part of the everyday routine, in my opinion. Now what I don't know: When (a little older), should your son use his own voice and you not be as involved? Not sure. But I'm thinking that I'd be involved at first, to make it a habit, so the guest has an idea that this is an everyday thing and this is what is expected. After that, you can try to back off and see how it goes?

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answers from Dallas on

YES! He should help pick up. There are times, like when they are little and at meltdown stage or I timed it wrong and mom has to leave now . . . then I will help my girls pick up. But otherwise, yes, I think they need to learn to help. I always make my kids help when we go to other people's houses.

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