Children’s rooms are notoriously messy. Parents spend the end of the day bent over picking up toys or stepping on Lego pieces. Young children may love making a mess of things, but they are also capable of helping clean up. Surprisingly, they also love it once they’re done and can feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Here are a few tips to help you get your little one lending a hand in cleaning up and staying organized!
First thing is to limit the number of toys in your child’s room. Too many toys are over-stimulating and children don’t know which to choose. In the end, they end up throwing things around or only spending 5 minutes on a toy before moving on to the next. To help prevent creating a mess, limit the number of toys that are out at one time. Make sure you have a nice variety such as puzzles, blocks, music toys, books and soft toys. Simply rotate those with other toys in storage every few weeks to keep your child interested and engaged.
A Designated Space
Children as young as 18 months actually love to have a sense of order. Getting the right amount of storage space and bins for your child’s belongings will help them and you keep things in order, and having a designated space for each item will help your child know exactly where it is supposed to go. Keep a specific shelf for books or a certain basket for soft toys. Your child can also learn to put away their jacket and shoes if they are placed in the same spot every day.
Sometimes young children want to put their toys and things away, but can’t figure out where things go. You can help by labeling certain spaces or containers to make it easier for your child. Print out a picture of a car and stick it on the box for the tiny race cars or draw some blocks for the Lego box. These are all ways to help your child figure out where things go, even if they’re too young to read yet.
Place Items within Reach
If you’d like your child to start getting into the habit of putting things away then storage spaces need to be within their reach. Make sure the book shelves and storage boxes are safely installed or adjusted to their level, and not over their head. This way they can choose their own toys and eventually get in the habit of putting them back on their own. Cleaning up isn’t just for toys, and you can also place a special hanger for your child’s jacket or have a row of clothes in the closet within reach as well.
Have Fun Practicing
The most important point is to practice together. Try not to make cleaning up a chore, but rather a fun activity for the both of you. You can sing a special clean up song as you go, or collect things by color or category. You can even race to see who is the fastest in collecting the most items. Make it a habit not to have more than 1 or 2 games or activities out at a time. So, for example, if they want to start playing with the puzzles they have to put the musical items away first.
In the end, be patient and logical when showing your child how to take care of their belongings and what it means to be organized.