To kids (and even adults!), making the mess is half the fun! However, when you try to get them to clean up afterward, that is when the battles begin. Putting things away and washing up is more daunting than the fun they were having using everything.
It can seem easier to just do everything yourself instead of trying to wrangle in your kids, but holding them accountable for picking up their toys and helping with chores teaches responsibility and good habits for the future. Young kids take pride in doing things themselves, so encourage and praise that. Before you start yelling that nothing is done, take a few minutes to make cleaning a little more enjoyable for you and your kids.
- Make it a game
Who can pick up all of the blue things? Who can put all of the blocks in the basket the fastest? Who can sweep the dirt onto this single floor tile? Keep things interesting and exciting by challenging your kids with little games or missions.
- Give them their own supplies
Have a little caddy with kid-sized cleaning supplies such as gloves, an apron, a bucket, a spray bottle, and a duster. Your kids will feel more grown-up with their own tools just like yours.
- Beat the clock
Set a timer and challenge your kids to clean up a certain toy or area before it goes off. Switch things up and set it for longer or shorter depending on what they’re doing. You can also challenge them to beat their previous time and do it faster next time.
- Add music
What’s more fun than dancing to the music as you put things away or wipe up? Let them pick their favorite songs and have a short dance break to keep them energized as they work. Or, when the room gets too messy, put on a song and have them clean up during the song, and once it’s over, they can go back to playing.
Take cues from your kids about what tasks they like doing and what motivates them. Provide plenty of praise and encouragement and resist the temptation to redo their work if it’s not perfect. Cleaning up can also be a great way to practice the occupational therapy skills they’ve been working on at PediaPlex!
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