For children, play comes naturally. They gleefully scatter toys all around them and delight in moving from one toy to the next. When it’s time to clean up, suddenly those toys aren’t as much fun. Often a child will protest against cleaning time because they are overwhelmed. They can’t determine the most logical way to clean up the mess they’ve made, but parents can help make the clean up process fun with these six tips.
Create some sort of game for cleaning up. Show your child how to toss a toy from a short distance into the bin and cheer when each toy makes it in.
Every Toy Has a Home
First, make sure every toy your child owns has a home. Dedicate one storage bin to each type of toy and distinguish them from each other by using a different colored bin for each category or tape a picture on same-colored bins so your child knows what to put in it. Be sure to clear out old, unused toys and place them in a storage unit.
Make Clean Up Time a Treasure Hunt
You can purchase a small wooden treasure chest at any craft or hobby store for this purpose. Write clues on index cards, such as, “Pick up five blue items and put them away,” or “Find two soft toys and put them in their homes.” Use your imagination when writing the clue cards and make sure they reflect the kinds of toys your children play with most often.
Set a Timer
Use a kitchen timer and ask your child to pick up as many things as they can in that amount of time. Pretend to race them when putting toys away. You can also use music as your timer. Put on your child’s favorite music and let the music play for a small period of time. Challenge your child to pick up as many items as possible before the music stops. Play along with them. Children love to see their parents acting silly with them.
Limit the Amount of Toys
If your child is the type to pull out all their toys into one gigantic pile, consider separating the toys into bins and allowing only one bit out at a time. Store the bins out of sight and encourage your child to put all the toys back into their assigned bin before letting them move on to a different toy.
Teaching children to clean up is easy if you have the right tools. Allowing a child to get overwhelmed by their belongings takes the fun out of playtime and leaves both child and parent frustrated.