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Challenge Yourself to Not Clean Up For Your Child

Happy Spring! The BFBN Mamas are all writing on the topic of cleaning today. See a full list of posts below.

From a very young age, we taught our daughter to clean up. Even when she was a baby, we involved her in the clean up process. When we were finished reading, or finished playing with something, we would clean up before getting something else out. Why did we do this?

Well there’s a lot of stuff that we accumulate once we have kids. There are a lot of toys. A lot of books. A lot of puzzles. A lot of things that have a lot of parts and need to be kept together. I fully intend to sell or give away our toys when we are done with them. I want them to be complete with all of their parts. And, even while the toys and books and puzzles are in our house, I want them to be complete so we can enjoy them to their fullest.

I also enjoy being able to find things. Our kids enjoy being able to find things when they want them. Cleaning up after ourselves, and having a place for things that makes sense, is how we will be able to keep track of everything. If the doctor kit is spread out in multiple bins, well – we’ll never again find the stethoscope when we want it!

So, for those reasons, we clean up and clean up often. But, we don’t clean up FOR our daughter.

When Caroline was a baby, I talked out loud. All the time. I narrated what I was doing (mostly for my sanity)- even the clean up process. When I was cleaning up, I’d talk about how I was putting the toys back into the bin, or stacking the puzzles. I didn’t do it with any goal in mind, but (looking back) I know it helped in our journey of teaching Caroline to clean up.

When she was old enough to grab things, she was old enough to help. We’d clean up together, and I’d show her where to put things. I would place a bin right in front of her so she could easily participate.

When she was old enough to move around, I’d involve her with figuring out WHERE things went. By this time, she easily knew where all of her toys and books went, so we’d make fun games out of finding the right bin. I’d pretend to not know, and she’d fix my mistake. We’d laugh and have fun with it.

When she was old enough for independent playtime, in her room, all alone… she was old enough to clean up her own mess. I’d still come help out a bit, but I expected her to do most of the cleaning up, since she’d made the mess.

Here’s a great post on teaching kids to declutter!

JourneyofParenthood blog

Now, she’s almost 3.5, and it’s second nature to her. I can ask her to clean up, and she goes around and puts every little thing away, in the right location. She enjoys cleaning up and keeping her things organized. She’s not known any different. We have always had the expectation to clean up.

There are exceptions to every rule…

1. We let her keep some things out now. She has to ask, and ask nicely. We allow this, because as she gets older, she has grand ideas. She has things all set up just how she wants them, and it’s devastating in her little world if we have to ruin her creation. We get that! We want her to continue to be creative and imaginative. We appreciate those things. So, at times, we allow her to keep her toys out. The answer isn’t always yes, but we try to understand where she’s coming from and allow her this freedom at times. For now, we pretty much always still clean up before bedtime.

2. We help her. We don’t clean up FOR her. And we don’t always help her. But we do help on a regular basis. We do this because we are a team. We are a family. Yes, it is her responsibility, and there are times that we can’t help and we expect her to do it all on her own. But, when we can, we help. We want her to see this as an example to help others. We don’t have to help, but we do out of kindness. She, in turn, is starting to do the same around the house for us. I love this!


Other Posts of Interest

Chore Ideas for 2 Year Olds

Teaching Responsibility- Involving Your Toddler in Household Tasks

If you’d like to read more posts from the BFBN mamas today, we are all writing on the topic of cleaning:

EmilyHow To Encourage Your Children to Help with Household Chores 

Christine: How To Have A Clean Home When You Have Small Children

ValerieEasy Cleaning Schedule Options for Busy Moms

CaitlinHow to Keep Your House Clean in Ten Minutes a Day

Kimberly: How a Block Schedule Will Make You a Better Mom

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