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May 10, 2011

It's Not the Same as Having a Cleaning Service...

…but it’s an inkling of a start!

Ever since the girls became proficient in their mobility, I’ve involved them in cleaning up their play area. At first it was me picking up most all of the toys, and escorting the girls to the toy bin with one or two pieces during the process.

That evolved into me be being able to direct them to pick up one specific piece at a time. I could say, “Pick up the red block and put it in the bin,” and they would usually comply. That didn’t translate directly into them then picking up the blue block, and the yellow one…I would have to call those pieces out by name…often stating my direction over and over, lest they get distracted by the illustrious purple block on their way.

Eventually, I moved to telling Baby A to gather all the books, for example; and Baby B to pick up all the dolls.

Each of these stages took a lot of time, patience, and perseverance on my part, including a gazillion reminders along the way. While there were times it was tempting just to pick things up myself, I always try to allow for time to involve the girls at an age-appropriate level.

Over the past week, I’ve noticed a big change in the girls’ understanding, willingness, and attention span when it comes to cleaning up.

Often after supper they ask to play with their cars. (They still play with these ride-on / push cars that their legs have long-since outgrown…but they love them!) I’ll tell them they can play with their cars when the den is clean (which has always been the rule), and they’ll start scurrying around!

Baby A is our speedster…last night she quickly put all the building blocks into their bin, and then stacked all the books together. In the meantime, Baby B was gathering the dolls and stuffed animals. They did both of those tasks without any suggestions from me…they probably cleaned 60% of the den before I had to remind them to continue. I went over to direct them in putting away all the pieces to their kitchen (which can be a little tedious), and they did an amazing job!

I don’t mean to suggest I think I’m on Easy Street from here on out. If there’s any truth to “paying for your raising”, there will probably be quite a few arguments over the girls cleaning their rooms and doing their chores…

...but I like to think we’re establishing good habits.

And now if I can just work them up to unloading the dishwasher – the bane of my existence, remember? – I’ll have it made.

Bwahahaha!!!

9 comments:

strongblonde said...

i totally get this. right now my kids LOVE to put things away. they often get things out JUST to put them away. lol. i've heard it will be short lived. we always put things away before getting something else out, though. nice to know that these habits will hopefully die hard :)

Beth said...

Wow! Good job Mommy! I am often guilty of deciding it is just easier for me to clean it myself than to guide the little ones through the entire process. Probably because of that, we are still a bit behind in the cleaning. If I am not there giving guidance and encouragement, they get distracted very quickly. I'm working on it. I was really hoping to get more patience for Mother's Day, but my husband said he couldn't find it in the store. Oh well...

Mandy said...

We have the same rules, with lots of practice. We have to clean before nap times too! Do the girls split clean up evenly? Em likes to stand around which irks me a bit because Claire is so focused on cleaning everything up that she just does it all. I've even caught Em pointing things out for Claire to pick up!

Andrea said...

I agree...it was the BEST when we got Molly and Luke helping clean up. Yay! Good for you!

Quadmama said...

My daughters used to be really into helping with the clean up process. Now when I tell them it's clean up time, they say "We're too tired to clean!"

Olusola said...

I tell you what, I can't wait till I can have my girls cleaning up and fetching the remote while I lounge on the sofa. It's got to be one of the perks of having more than one

Barbara Manatee said...

good work! My kiddos go in spurts on cleaning up. Adam is probably better about it than the older two right now but he also often follows their lead and just runs away when I say its time to clean up! ha! (he's a copy cat)

Rebecca @ Unexplained X2 said...

What is the deal with the purple block? We have WARS over the purple block, lego, whatever...it's sick!

Husband thought I was NUTS to start making them clean up when they were 11 months old, but to be able to say, "we'll do that puzzle when you clean up the living room rug" is awesome...a new level of awesome. Extra-awesome...

Julia said...

Mandy, I wanted to thank you for writing this. I realized after doing so that I don't set high enough expectations for my girls in the area of clean-up. I find myself organizing and stacking while they are napping, and it shouldn't be that way! They can certainly put things away. SO--I implemented this immediately. Sure enough---they were thrilled to go get the purple cup, and put it where it belonged. It was even a game to them---they would race to see who got to the purple cup first. Clearly, I've been too lax.

Some things I just don't think about for some reason....

Anyway, thank you. I really appreciate you pointing this out to me!