Toddlers are fantastic at playing with their toys. With imaginations that are just starting to come into their own, little ones want all of their toys out at one time to incorporate as many as they can into their make-believe adventure. All of which is fine until it comes time to clean up. And who is stuck cleaning up? Mom and Dad. But it does not have to be this way. It is possible to raise a toddler to clean up after themselves with just a few helpful hints.
When parents ask toddlers to help clean up, they are usually met with resistance. Why? Because no one wants to clean up a mess. To do that means that playtime is over and work has to begin. But if toddlers are given the tools and foolproof ways to clean up that they do not feel overwhelmed to do, with a bit of fun sprinkled in, they will be more willing to not only help but clean up on their own the first time asked.
Here are tips for raising a toddler who cleans up after themselves.
Pick Specified Times Per Day To Clean
No one wants to clean up a large mess. This is why cleaning up several times per day makes sense when it comes to toddlers. But because toddlers see cleaning as an end to their fun, they do not want to clean regardless of when that time comes. If those times are scheduled and happen like clockwork daily, however, cleaning may be met with less resistance.
By breaking the day up and having two or three times when big clean-ups are done, it saves from there being a monumental cleaning in the nighttime. All parents have to do is warn toddlers that their clean-up time is approaching for whatever toys they are not playing with so that they are not taken off guard when playing. Then, when that time comes, clean-up happens.
Over time, this will become a habit and toddlers will begin to put toys away themselves at the specified time, no parental assistance needed.
Limit Availability To Toys
If toddlers do not take out all of their toys at one time, it saves having to clean a big mess. And a great way to do this is to not allow new toys to come out until the toys toddlers are done with are put away.
By making this a rule, toddlers automatically clean up after themselves. They know that when it is time to play with something new, the toy they have finished with goes back to its home. And once that has happened, a new play can begin. All without Mom or Dad having to get involved or clean.
Make Cleaning A Joint Effort
Depending on the age of toddlers, they simply may not know what it means to clean up after themselves. And if this is the case, making cleaning a joint effort until toddlers get the hang of what they are supposed to do is more than appropriate.
By cleaning up with toddlers, parents can show their little ones where toys go, explain why they go in certain places, and why it is important to take care of belongings. And because toddlers are helping along the way, the message that their parents are trying to express about cleaning is understood from an early age. It then is something that can be implemented alone as toddlers get a bit older and are capable of cleaning alone.
Have A Spot For Everything
By having a spot for each and every toy, parents are making clean-up time something toddlers cannot fail at. This is because if toddlers know which shelves, drawers, and containers toys belong in, there is no being confused when it comes to cleaning up.
According to How We Montessori, the easier the clean-up is for toddlers, the more apt they are to do it. This means having containers with easy-to-open lids, shelves that contain one item each, and baskets for irregular-sized items. As long as every toy has a home, clean-up will be a breeze for toddlers.
Make Cleaning Fun
A key component to cleaning up toys is making it fun. That may mean making a game out of cleaning or even a race. Whatever gets toddlers motivated is what should be used to tidy.
According to Today’s Parent, it could be putting on a particular song that signals clean up, or it may be allowing toddlers to hold onto a toy that helps them to clean up. When parents are flexible about the entertainment level that goes into cleaning up, toddlers are much more likely to want to participate versus being told several times over that cleaning needs to be done, making parents and toddlers frustrated in the process.
Add Some Background Noise
Cleaning is always more fun with some music. As such, pick some toddlers’ favorite songs and watch them get to cleaning.
According to The Simple Scrub, music helps with repetitive tasks, such as cleaning. And the more upbeat and up-tempo it is, the better mood those cleaning will be in, and the faster cleaning will get done.
Source: Today’s Parent, How We Montessori, The Simple Scrub