Have you ever noticed that your mind is clearer when your house is cleaner? I have seen a direct correlation between the clutter level to the overall emotional vibe in our house. I’ve also seen that when my daughter’s room is a mess, she doesn’t want to play in her room. For that reason, I cleaned everything up, got rid of a bunch of toys that she’s outgrown, and organized everything else. She now loves playing in her room. Imagine that!
Now keep in mind, my daughter is three. That means that she has the attention span of a knat. Yeah, maybe not even that good some days. That being said, with a little help in the direction category and some repetition, she is now reliably picking up her own toys and putting them away. She’s a little unclear on my organizational pattern, but that’s okay because I haven’t stepped on a lego in weeks!
What’s more she seems to take pride in having done it. I base this on the fact that she dances about the house crowing “I did it! Mommy, I did it! Didn’t I?”
The added benefit is that she sees that her whole family is happier when the house is picked up.
Many people think that three is too little to be expected to help clean, but my daughter loves to help. By letting her help, I’m instilling work ethic and good practices (i.e. clean up after yourself). She holds the dust pan when I sweep, she helps water the houseplants and garden, and she even helps empty the dishwasher. Will she still love it when she’s 13? Probably not, but hopefully by then it will be a habit that she takes with her, her whole life, so that she never has to live in a pig sty like seems to be the image of college dorm life.
I say this as someone who was not taught this (with any consistency) as a child. It’s a hard habit to learn as an adult. I want to make my daughter’s life easier in the long run, so for now I will make it hard on myself by reminding her every night before bed to pick up and put away her toys.