If you have a preschooler at home, you know that a necessity to clean up is quite a frequent issue. Tidying up a room to get rid of the consequences of the raucous doll party, large-scale construction project or a massive battle may not seem so fascinating to your kid. So how can you turn this boring responsibility into a fun game? There are some simple tricks that will make your child always want to help you to clean up.
A place where the toys live
1. A box or a special basket is the best storage space for toys. And if it looks like a multi-level parking site, a doll house or a funny animal, it will be easier to turn cleaning into a game.
2. A plastic tray or a box. Here you can keep all kinds of construction set details, playing cubes and various small toys. Don’t forget to sort out the tray’s contents from time to time and put toys into different boxes depending on their purpose.
3. A small trash can with a removable lid is a great storage space for the biggest mess source (a hundred of puzzle pieces lying all around on the floor, strips of paper and failed drawings, some crafting waste). Getting rid of trash will become a process full of fun and a bigger part of useless waste will go into the trash can but not on the floor.
Cleaning up? Though a play!
– A truck carrying a load of a certain type: puzzle pieces first, then Lego pieces, then cubes. Sorting the playing pieces this way will make it easier to put them back into the right storage spaces.
– Cars going to parking. Well, why just cars? Any toy can organize shows and meetings on their shelves. Or maybe your kid’s toy animals and dolls would like to take a taxi to go home?
– Turn a cardboard box into a simple shopping basket and let your kid walk around his room and “buy” some toy dishes, food, doll clothes, etc.
– Lotto game card is missing? Let your little traveler go on a searching expedition. Don’t forget to equip him with a spyglass (a paper towel cardboard tube would do just fine).
– If there is some fine trash on the floor, let your kid put his fingers together and imagine how little chicken “peck some bread crumbs” by collecting the pieces of trash into his hand.
– If you need to disassemble a house constructed of some furniture items, to carry small chairs or stools to another room ask your kid to “turn into” a crane or a bulldozer. It’s much more fun to work this way!
– Offer your child to play a game about the three little pigs. Tell him that not only the three little pigs can hide in their houses from a big bad wolf; all the other toys can do that too (including cars, toy dishes and Lego pieces). The boxes that your kid keeps all his toys in will turn into the “houses”.
– Playing with dolls often looks like moving from one place to another. Offer your daughter to pack all the stuff into boxes and to help the doll family move to another town.
– Or maybe the toys are tired of all the mess and will get to work on their own?
Down with a boring routine!
Sometimes, just for a change, you can offer your kid some unusual ways of tidying up:
– Throwing soft toys into a basket and giving bonus points for each well-aimed throw.
– Collecting Lego pieces with a toy bulldozer or a toy shovel.
– Offer your kid to collect his toys blindfolded.
– Are you tired of looking for the small metallic pieces of a construction set? Try using a big magnet.
– Or maybe some music could bring you into the right mood? Working will be easier and faster with some nice, upbeat music.
– Arrange a clean-up holiday party. Several colored balloons, favorite cakes and great mood — and next time your kid will be happy to do the clean-up dreaming about the next holiday.
– Finish your clean-up session with some nice event. For example, after cleaning the carpet, you can play Twister or some other game that needs some clear floor space.
– Or you can tell your child that at night a fairy named Neatness visits all the clean rooms and leaves a small gift on a window sill.
– If your kid was good at tidying up can be rewarded with a medal. A chocolate one. But don’t try to reward your child’s efforts with frequent and expensive gifts. At the same time, a “new toys come only to clean rooms” rule can be of great help.
What are the methods you should avoid?
If you don’t want to make your child fear or hate clean-ups, here’s what you have to do:
1. Put up with the fact that your kid’s room and your kid’s playing nook will never be perfectly neat and tidy.
2. Never demand that your kid only uses one game at a time (“You can’t have your puzzle unless you are finish playing with your Legos”). Combining different games while playing helps develop creativity. Besides, what if puzzle pieces live in a Lego house?
3. Never leave your child one on one with the mess in his room (“You can’t leave your room until you clean up!”). You don’t necessarily have to take part in it; take a book or some knitting and be close to your child ready to give some advice or support when he really needs it.
4. Never throw any toys away. Toys can only “go away” temporarily and “come back” if your kid says he wants to take care about them again. You can hide a misplaced toy (if you found it on a kitchen table, for example). But misusing these methods would not do any good.
5. Never forbid your child to bring twigs, stones and other treasures home. They may mean a lot to him.
6. Never keep your kid’s games in a place he can’t easily access. You can put some learning materials and expensive toys on the top shelves, but all the other things should be within your little one’s reach.