How To Let Your Toddler Help You Clean
Like I mentioned in a previous post (visit here), spring has definitely sprung in San Diego. Here in southern California, we’re only twelve short days into the spring season and already, we’ve hit our highs of 90’s and lows of 70’s, leaving us just shy of a typical summer day. With spring being the current season and with flowers and allergies-a-bloomin’, (does this remind anyone else of Meryl Streep in the Devil Wears Prada, “Florals, for spring. How ground-breaking,”? No? Just me? Moving on, then.) We’re not only more likely to spend our time outside basking in the long forgotten sun, but we’re more apt to make room for the things in our lives that we can’t otherwise fit.
There’s a reason that it’s called “spring cleaning” and not “winter wash” or “fall hose down”, and it’s because with spring comes a sense of renewal. As the bulbs break free from their soil in the ground, so do our souls yearn to break free of the clutter in our lives. If nothing else, spring-cleaning is the perfect excuse to gut that corner closet that you’ve been too afraid to open for a year, or to go through your toddler’s toys and decide what they can and cannot live without. Of course, if you’re anything like me, then your toddler has a penchant for making sure they’re present whenever toys that they haven’t seen in awhile make an appearance, making cleaning with a toddler nearly impossible. If this is you, then read on for tips and tricks for cleaning with your preschooler.
- Create A Toddler-Sized Cleaning Kit: If your toddler follows you around while you’re trying to get your cleaning done, then give them something to do. No I’m not suggesting sending your three-year-old off with a bottle of Ajax and a metal scrubber, (I’m not that cruel) but consider putting together a caddy full of chemical free scrubs and sprays for your child to help “clean” with. Fill a spray bottle with water and a couple drops of essential oil, set it to the mist setting, and let your child spray what they’d like to clean. Include in your kit a couple of rags and let your child scrub out any stains that they may want to help you get rid of. Additionally, a small dust pan and handheld sweeper will get your child interested in sweeping, while a bottle filled with water and a small dash of dish soap (just enough to get the bubbles going) and a sponge, can help get your kids interested in scrubbing at your kitchen.
- Cut Through Clutter: If you’re like most parents, you’re probably drowning in a small army of toys, and with most toy armies come a very outspoken toddler-leader. Speaking from experience, I’m fully aware of the difficulties surrounding tough decisions in piles of clutter. As my parents recently moved out of my childhood home, I too was faced with the decision of what to toss and what to keep, and let me tell you—if it’s hard as an adult, it’s even harder for a toddler. First of all, divide and conquer. With your child, create a toss pile for the broken toys, a donate pile for the superfluous toys (like all of those happy meal toys), and a keep pile for everything else. Point out to your child where their toys are broken, explaining that they no longer work, and explain to your child that by donating their unused (or repeat) toys they will be making another, less fortunate child happy.
- Get Creative: We’ve all heard—or cringe—sang along to the Barney theme song (you know the one: “clean up, clean up, everybody, everywhere, clean up, clean up, everybody do your share”), and sure it’s annoying, but it gets the job done. Likewise, if you create a song with your child specifically for clean up time, you’ll have a happy, and willing to help, toddler on your hands. Speaking of hands, if you’re feeling particularly DIY that day and have a lone sock hanging around the laundry basket, draw a rabbit face on it, and I give you: the dust (sock) bunny (thank you family fun for this great idea)! Kid friendly in every way, the sock bunny can be added to your toddler’s cleaning kit so that they can help collect dust from the nooks and crannies around your home.
Giving your preschooler an added incentive to help clean is far from a bad thing. It helps teach your child responsibility, while making clean up time seem both fun and entertaining. The younger your child is when they begin cleaning, the more likely this good behavior will be instilled in your toddler the older they get. Just remember, when you find yourself with toddler in tow while trying to spring clean, there’s always a way to keep them from getting underfoot.