A toddler's job is to explore and learn -- and he does this by making messes.
A toddler can be a one-kid wrecking crew, following you around and dumping out the toys you've just carefully organized and put away. Although adding toddlers to the household generally means a shift in cleaning expectations and standards, it doesn't mean you should accept slovenly surroundings. You can still effectively tidy up the house with a toddler in tow, perhaps even involving your tot in the process.
1Simplify your home as much as possible to cut down on the amount of work it takes to clean. Sure, those knickknacks look lovely on the shelves and mantle, but how much time do you have to devote to dusting them? Do a sweep through your house and box up the extra stuff for a few years to streamline your cleaning routine. You can get these things back out again when your kids outgrow the toddler stage.
2Divide your household chores up so that every day is manageable. Instead of cleaning the house from top to bottom on Saturdays, schedule one or two things to do every day. You might clean the bathrooms on Monday, scrub floors on Tuesday, dust on Wednesday, vacuum on Thursday and declutter on Friday. Schedule laundry on specific days, too -- and suddenly you’ve got a manageable household routine that doesn’t overwhelm you.
3Get everyone involved in housework. You all live there, so shouldn't everyone chip in to keep the house shipshape? Of course, chores need to be age-appropriate so that every family member feels confident and successful about helping with housework. Depending on your toddler, he may be able to help with dusting, taking care of toys, feeding pets, tossing clothes in a hamper and making neat stacks of books and magazines.
4Provide lots of positive encouragement and feedback once the family starts pitching in. People – especially little ones – need to hear encouraging words to keep them motivated.
- Parents who assign household chores to kids are actually doing their little ones a huge favor. Housework teaches responsibility and gives kids a strong sense of confidence and self-worth. Try not to worry if everything isn't done perfectly -- the most important thing is that you're training (er, teaching) your little ones. You won’t have to lower your standards of cleanliness forever, but this shift in expectations can do a lot for your overall morale while your kids are little. Sticky counters and toys underfoot won’t be mainstays in your house forever -- and when your kids are bigger, you might even be nostalgic for the maddening messes of their toddler days.