Somewhere right now there is a mom cleaning up a mess right after she cleaned up a mess. We’ve all been there, right? It’s like we’re trapped in this perpetual cycle of cleaning and we can’t get out no matter how hard we try! Hello twilight zone.
Your kitchen is spotless and your little one just spilled their juice and dropped food all over the floor. You just cleaned up the play area for the millionth time, and you turn around to see it destroyed yet again! The bathroom you just cleaned is now covered in toothpaste. It is inevitable so instead of constantly stressing maybe we should try to embrace it, emphasis on try, and enlist our little ones to help!
My husband would shoot me “the look” every time he saw me cleaning up the kid’s messes. I just couldn’t help myself. I wanted it done right now and the right way. But when I took a step back to think about it – how was that helping my children or myself? How would they ever learn?
Before we dive into the tips for our littles – here are 5 tips for Mom!
1. First things first, we need to set realistic expectations.
Sure we’d love all of our kids to mimic our cleaning styles! But, reality check: a 3 or 4-year-old may not put things back the way we would, but what’s important is that they put them back. Yes, we may have to go back and reorganize (when they’re not looking), but teaching them this responsibility at a young age is so important. It will become part of their routine. We just have to fight the urge to do it ourselves and remain consistent!
2. Remember to Model Positive Cleaning Behavior
You know those days you’re stressed AF and you’re banging up the pots and pans muttering under your breath? The kids are watching. If they believe cleaning will make them behave like that they will not want to do it 😅 Believe it or not, sometimes cleaning can be a de-stressor. Do you agree? Blasting your favorite tunes is also very helpful.
3. Have Designated Spots
Want to make clean-up time easier? Make sure there are designated spots for their toys and items. Books go on the shelf, toy cars in the red bin, blocks in the blue container, and so on.
4. Don’t Do It For Them … do it with them
If we constantly request them to clean up and then just do it any way we are sending mixed signals. However, it is OK to do the task with them! Guiding them and showing them where things belong will help them get into the habit of doing it themselves. It’s always my prerogative to keep it real, so yes, there will be times you have to do it yourself. You’re on a time crunch and need to be out of the house or a tantrum is in full effect and you need to start the bedtime routine. That’s ok too.. life happens.
5. Sort, Donate, & Rotate!
Do you ever feel like you’re drowning in a sea of toys? You are not alone! Take the time to declutter and donate. Those sad little lonely untouched toys in the back of the closet and bottom of the bin … yea, it’s time for those to go! Store and rotate the most commonly played with toys and things they will use for a long time! You can rotate weekly or every other week! Less toys equal easier clean up for both mom and child.
Children are capable and it is our duty to teach them. Age-appropriately of course!
4 ways to encourage our children to help clean up
1. Clean Up Song
Who else grew up on Barney’s clean-up song? 🎶 Clean up clean up everybody do your share … 🎶 Cocolmelon will be our children’s version! Put the song on and encourage them to clean up while listening. Tip: pull up the song on your phone and put it face down. Don’t put it on the tv or else they will get easily distracted.
2. Make it fun!
- Put a timer on and let them race the clock!
- Make it a team effort.
- Have a scavenger clean-up hunt.
3. Set Rules
Before you know it you can no longer see your living floor as it is now engulfed in toys. One basic rule to set is before you move on to the next toy or activity you must clean up the previous one! This is one I implement with my girls daily and it’s been working!
4. Chore Chart
Smaller children get excited when they have a “job” in the house. Make it fun visually with their very own chore chart. Chore charts are great for older children as well and will give them a sense of responsibility and accountability.
Download your free chore chart today!
It feels good to say I have finally learned to let the children help!
Remember we are not asking the children to do a deep cleaning we are starting with the basics of putting things in place and organizing. Keep your expectations realistic and the rules clear. Trust me, these tips can really help if you stay consistent. We call my youngest daughter the tornado 🌪 and I am even getting through to her!
After all, the main goal here is to teach our children responsibility and independence. These habits will be useful all of their lives! And can help give mama a break!
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