Do you struggle with getting your littles to clean up their toys? In our house, we try to always clean up toys at the end of the day. Yes, throughout the day we try to do the whole, “clean this up before we take out something else” thing, but by the end of the day, there’s always toys out. It’s not a big deal. Houses where children live should have toys out. Organized and neat, maybe contained in one area, but out. I feel like when someone walks into my home, it’s ok if they can tell we have children. Anyway, every night before bedtime we make sure the living room and bedrooms are cleaned up so when we wake up the next day we can start fresh again! But, sometimes it can be difficult to get a toddler to clean up their toys. Shocking news, right? It’s not that he’s not a good cleaner. It’s not that he doesn’t know how to pick up toys. It’s that doing everything else in the world except cleaning up toys is far more fun at that moment in time. Until he heard two new words…TOY EATERS.
One evening as we were coaxing my three year old to clean up, I casually said, “You don’t want the toy eaters to get them!” His ears perked up and he followed up with a giggly, “What?”
I told him that when he’s asleep, the toy eaters come and they eat any toys that aren’t cleaned up and put away. The excitement (and small bit of real concern) of it had him diligently working on getting his toys cleaned up and he went to bed knowing that his toys were safe from the toy eaters! It was almost like he was a super hero saving his toys from being eaten.
We don’t say it every day, but when he’s having a particularly difficult time getting toys cleaned up, I just remind him about the toy eaters and it works again. Occasionally, he will even bring it up when we are cleaning. Oh, and if you’re sitting there thinking, “I don’t want to lie or use scare tactics to get my child to clean!” Really? Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Elf of the Shelf, the Easter Bunny, the list goes on and on. You say “lie”, I say “magic!”
*A few additional tips for getting toddlers to clean up…
1. Clean with them. If you are cleaning along side them, it helps them see a good example and they also see the job done quicker when everyone pitches in!
2. Be specific and verbalize exactly what they should clean next. If I tell my toddler to “clean up your toys” he doesn’t know where to start. If I am with him (see #1) and I tell him, “Ok, now pick up your fire truck and school bus and put them on the shelf.” He is focused on a specific task and he gets it done!
3. Make it a game! -Insert Mary Poppins singing A Spoonful of Sugar- But really, how can you make cleaning more fun? Any cart or wheel barrow that can be filled with toys is awesome! Just today, my little guy filled up his small plastic wheel barrow with his billion cars that were all over the living room and wheeled them to the bin where they belong! On his own!
Good luck getting your toddler to clean! And share any tips that work for you!