Monday, September 16, 2013

Cleaning Up {Life With Toddler}


One of the simplest and most basic responsibilities that I can require of my toddler is to pick up her own belongings. In our home, I *try* to have S put away her toys and books before bed each night, as well as cleaning up little odds and ends throughout the day as we go along.

Of course, there is usually something else she would much rather be doing, and each toy that she picks up is a new temptation to play with. Many times I find myself getting irritated that I'm telling her yet again to put away the same thing, that cleaning up a small room takes 20+ minutes, or that I have to micromanage her progress with such a seemingly simple job.

Yet patience seems to be the number one requirement for gentle child-training. I must constantly remind myself to take a deep breath, keep a pleasant tone and countenance, and faithfully follow through on the commands I give her.

This is a work in progress. Tell me I'm not alone here?

I want to model joyfulness in my work, to show S by example that work is God's good gift to us, not a drudge. So for both of our sakes I am trying to keep it fun!

Make it a game. Totally on accident, I managed to invent a game for picking up. It started one day when S had dumped her entire box of crayons all over the floor- definitely one of our more tedious clean-up jobs.

To encourage her along, every time she dropped a crayon in the box I would make a different sound effect {think animal noises, robots, musical ditties, etc.}. She thought it was hilarious. So much so, that as soon as she had put the last crayon away, she dumped out the entire box again so that we could continue with our game. *Smacks forehead.*

From the crayons, it carried over to her food toys, and stuffed animals, and before we knew it, everything was nice and tidy. Success! She fondly refers to this game as "bee-doop" {the original sound I made}.

Sing. Who doesn't know the clean-up song? I'm convinced it is the international anthem of toddlerhood :). We will also put on some of S's favorite music to inspire her and help "the medicine go down." Every task is more fun when you're dancing!

Provide extra incentive. The other day I felt frustrated because try as I might, S was not staying on task during our morning clean up. Her favorite song is Gene Kelly's "Singing in the Rain" {we have similar taste, my girl and I <3}, and she asked to watch the You Tube video of it. I told her that as soon as she finished picking up her books, she could watch it.

Lo and behold, the task I'd been unsuccessfully encouraging her to do for over ten minutes was finished in less than two. Sometimes a kid just needs a little healthy, fun motivator- a light at the end of the tunnel, a reward for a job well done.

I know I sure do! I often reward myself at the end of a hard or unpleasant task with a few minutes of reading, a little bit of chocolate, or a cup of tea. Why should my child be any different?

Motivators shouldn't necessarily be offered every time- S does need to learn that she must obey, simply because Mama said. But they sure can be a nice occasional treat.

What works for clean-up time at your house? Any tricks of the trade to share, toddler mamas?


 Don't miss the rest of our series on toddlerhood through the month of September! And please join us for our toddler link-up on Friday the 27th- any and all posts on toddlers welcome {feel free to dig up your archives!}. 

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