Beat the Timer – Getting kids to clean


I have two children. Mini Helton #1 is our son, he is a gifted child who thrives in routine and order. Mini Helton #2 is our daughter, she is a free spirit who thrives by marching to her own beat.

We have struggled with getting our daughter to clean her room since she was old enough to help clean. I can ask my son to clean his room, and 20 minutes later go in and it’s spotless. I can ask my daughter to clean her room, and 20 minutes later it looks worse than it did when she started.

I finally figured out the issue – I think. My son’s room is pretty much always clean because he thrives on order. So, it’s never really messy (unless daughter has been in there!). My daughter’s room is NEVER clean, because she doesn’t care about order. So, for her to hear the words “clean your room,” it’s overwhelming.

We found the trick to help her clean!! We ask her to beat the timer. This is how it works. She gets 5 minutes per task. Her goal is to beat the timer, and have her task completed before time runs out.


– Clean up all the trash before the timer runs out.

– Clean up all the books before the timer runs out.

– Put away/Clean up all the clothes before the timer runs out.

You get the picture! I have tried this a couple of times and it seems to be working like a charm with her.

You know the old saying – “How do you eat an elephant?” “One bite at a time.” It’s all about breaking her cleaning up into smaller “bite sized” tasks. Using this method gets her room cleaned in about 30 minutes, and it frees up my time because I don’t have to sit in her room making sure she is cleaning. Plus it’s a fun little game. She has decided to see if how quickly she can get done, and races to turn off and check the time when she is finished.

How do you motivate your kids?




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