Cleaning with a Toddler

My house is not always clean, but believe it or not I keep it cleaner now
than when my husband and I first got married. I guess having a kid motivates you a little!
Over the past few weeks or maybe even months, I have been noticing how much Hannah loves helping me do chores. She loves learning and has so much fun being able to do whatever it is I am doing at the time! Sounds like just about every kid in the world, right?

Hannah helps me put up clean laundry after it's been folded.
She helps me put clothing on hangers and helps me hang them up.
She puts dishes into the dishwasher, and puts clean ones back where they go.
She sweeps my floors for me and mops, too!
She picks up trash for me, and likes to take the trash outside to the dumpster.
Hannah helps me unload and load the dryer and washer.
She also helps me pour the soap into the washer.
She closes and locks doors for me, like when we get home from somewhere.
She's helped me wrap all the family's Christmas presents.
...and there are so many other things that she helps me with!

Honestly, a huge part of cleaning with your toddler is just talking 
with them about everything you are doing. Explain it to them. 
They're eager to understand, they really are! Start by asking them simple questions 
and do so repeatedly to help them better understand a concept or action. 
Share simple facts with them often. 

I'd love to brag and say that Hannah is this super genius 20 month old
who understands everything, but honestly, I have just come to the realization
that she understands so much because I'm constantly explaining everything
I'm doing. Whether it's cleaning dishes, cooking dinner, vacuuming, or
going to the bathroom, I'm talking to her about it. ...and she loves it!!!

Lately I've been waking up early (conviction right there) to read the Word and maybe sneak
in a chore or two and because of it, I have been able to think a lot clearer throughout the day and
I can see where some things work and some things fail. Our chore method works
 pretty well so I thought I'd share some of the things we do to clean up around the house!

When Doing Laundry

 Teach them how to put hangers in shirts, then how to hang them on stuff.
It's such a challenge and almost a game to Hannah! She loves it!

Ask them often to bring you something that you need during your chore.
Don't forget to say PLEASE! Especially if you want them to say it to you!
Hannah loves to run and grab more hangers for me!

 Let it be fun --- Hannah likes to jump/slide on my pile of folded towels and
blankets while I fold everything else. I just continue to add to her stack as we go.
She doesn't normally make a mess but if she does, it's very easy to re-fold one or two towels.

 When doing a chore that allows you to sit, sit on the floor and let them climb in and out of your lap. It can get tiring, but at least they're not screaming for attention.

Let them put the clothes from the washer into the dryer. One or two pieces at a time.

Let them carry the clothes from the dryer and put them on the bed
(or wherever you fold your clothes at). 

Let them help carry your laundry basket to it's next location.

Show them where to put stuff. Whenever you're doing laundry, ask them to carry
the towels and then show them where they go.

When Cleaning Surfaces

Let them mop or sweep the floors. It's such an easy chore for our little ones!
Sometimes I give Hannah the Swiffer sweep so she can sweep behind
me as I sweep with the broom. It helps grab the little stuff that I miss!

Give them their own towel and a spray bottle (filled with water or vinegar water,
whatever their little hands can handle) and follow you around cleaning
counters and tables and chairs.

Give them a bucket and ask them to put everything in it! Start off by showing them
what you mean. Start throwing everything into the bucket!

When Cleaning Dishes

Show them how to close the soap container, close the dishwasher, and
then turn it on! Hannah loves doing this because she knows that once she
turns it on, that she's completed a task! It makes her feel good!

Let them load the non-breakables and it doesn't hurt to show them exactly where
you want the items. They want to do it the way you do it anyways!

Let them unload the non-breakable dishes and show them where to put them.
If they can't reach, ask them to put them on the counter.

Give them a sponge or a scrub brush and allow them to help you scrub dishes in the sink.

Show them where to put the dishes once they've scrubbed them.

Give them dishes to put in the sink as you as preparing dinner or after you've eaten.

When Cooking

 (This one, of course, depends on your child. Some children can 
handle this better than others. Hannah is hit or miss with this.)

Let them pull up a chair to the counter or even sit on the counter while you prepare dinner.

Every now and then, pick them up and let them help put something into a bowl or plate.

Let them stir something. If they can't stir what you've got, put some flour and water into a bowl (maybe even add a drop of food coloring) and let them go at it right next to you!
Give them the salt or pepper shaker and show them how to put a little bit into the
 pot or pan while cooking.
Misc. Chores

Let them carry the trash to the outside dumpster, or at least to the outside of the door.

Ask them to help you carry stuff to the next room. They only need to hold one
or two items to be really motivated to help!

Ask them to help you wrap all your Christmas presents! Giving them tape to
put on each fold is possibly the easiest thing for a one year old to do!

Teach them, in general, where stuff goes. You'll be surprised with how
quickly they'll clean a room for you simply because they see stuff out of place!

If you're struggling with getting your kid to the car, give them your car keys
(if it makes you feel better, take your car key off first and then give
 them the rest of the keys) and ask them to help you unlock the car!
Works every time with Hannah!


Two final tips and they are something that I've learned over 
this year:

1. explain a process very simply ahead of time. 
For example: "We have to put these dishes in IN first, 
THEN we can close it and turn it on! If we close it now, 
there is nothing in it to wash!"
2. Pause in between instruction. Their little minds need 
an extra minute to grasp what you are trying to explain to them! Their little minds and ears can only handle a little bit at a time!


Have I forgotten anything? 
Do you have any tips and tricks that works for you and your little one that you'd like to share?

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