When cleaning and organizing your home, do you include your child in the process?
If anything, we find ourselves most often cleaning after our children, waiting till they’ve left the room or gone to sleep to tend to the mess. But enlisting your child’s help ensures a better understanding of how important it is to respect our belongings, and once they know where things belong, trust that your child will treat that responsibility with high regard.
I sometimes even have my own 2-year-old reminding me to put my blanket and book away if I’m done using it. Geez, Mom.
But when trusted with responsibility or chores, toddlers take that work very seriously, and it means a lot to them to feel helpful.
Pursue this mature behavior in your child, and thank them for the help they can surely be around the home.
Books and toys
To begin organizing together, start with items your child uses most often. Not only will they be most familiar with their own books and toys, but these items mean a great deal to them, and you will sense that as you discuss each item’s importance.
As you work, stay down at your child’s eye level so you’re not placing things out of reach for them. Keep all shelving and bins at a level that suits your child, and label bins as well. For toddlers, label with pictures, or include both the word and a picture on your label.
Even if you might be happy with a location you choose to store something, be sure to ask your child, “Are you happy with putting blocks in this space?” “Is this a helpful spot to put all your puzzles?”
Once you’ve both decided on a location, repeat that location before you move on. “Ok, we’ve decided to put all of our puzzles right here in this corner. This is where the puzzles will remain when we are not playing with them, and this is where we will return them when we are done. Now, let’s move on to magnets!”
Communicate your organization process as much as possible with your child, and don’t overwhelm them. As you clean, it might be easy for you to say to yourself, “He never plays with this anymore, I’m going to put it in storage or recycle it,” without asking, but communicate thoroughly instead. “Do you still enjoy this toy?” “Do you still like reading this book?” Respect their answer, and move on.
In the bedroom, ask your child to help organize their clothes by explaining to them where each item belongs and sorting out seasonal or outgrown wear as well.
If you want your child’s consistent help in putting their clothes away, make their bedroom accessible. Use dresser drawers toward the floor, remove closet doors entirely, use child-sized hangers, and have their dirty clothes hamper in plain sight.
When putting clothes away, have them watch how you fold their shirts or pants or socks and then put them away. Remind them to lay clothes nicely in drawers, and show them how to hang a shirt on a hanger.
Other areas of the home your child could be of help is in the bathroom or organizing their own dishes in the kitchen. Consider storing your child’s snacks on a low shelf in the pantry or low drawer so they can help put these items away as well.
And enjoy each organizational discussion with your child! The more you communicate your logic, the more willing your child will be to maintain and respect a tidy home.
About the Author
Angela Tewalt is a writer and mother to two boys. She shares parenting stories and inspiration in Guidepost Parent.
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