{Raising Tots} How to Encourage Your Toddler to Help Clean

Raising Tots

I am very excited to welcome Kendall from Home Learning Journey as this weeks guest poster on {Raising Tots} Mom to Mom Parenting series. Below she shares 7 tips for encouraging your toddler to help with cleaning.


Helping toddlers learn to clean


I do not know about the rest of moms to toddlers, but I know that there are days where my oldest toddler (3.5 years old) is a stubborn little girl when it comes to helping clean up.  75% of the time she enjoys helping mom clean the house.  It takes some motivation for me to start but once we start, we are off! 

What about that other 25% of the time?  It takes some convincing to help me clean.  From working in child care in the past and from raising my two toddlers, I have found some tips that might be very helpful to some of you other moms who experience the same thing I do.  To sum the following suggestions up, make it fun!

  1. Colored Blocks & Other Colored Toys: If I see that there are blocks, color balls, or anything else with a lot of different colors spilled all over the floor, I start off asking my oldest toddler what color of block/ball is her favorite.  When she tells me her favorite, I make it into a game.  I tell her to quickly pick up all of the pink blocks (her usual answer) as fast as she can while mommy picks up the white (or whatever colors) blocks and we will see who wins!  I usually only have to do that once.  After her first color is all put away, she will scavenge the room for a second color of her choice, then a third, and so forth.  My younger toddler (17 months) will just randomly pick up blocks and put them away because we are.
  2. A Bunch of Different Pieces of Toys:  My daughter has a play food collection, tea set collection, and doll house furniture.  Like the colored blocks/toys, we pick one at a time up.  I say something like, “Oh NO!  There is food EVERYWHERE.  We better pick it up before I eat it all!”  My older toddler thinks this is hilarious.  She will quickly scramble to go find all of the fake tomatoes, pepperoni, broccoli, cheese, and other food and put them away.  Of course I help because there are so many of these pieces of toys that are all over when the room has turned into a disaster.  Again, my 17 month old will just start randomly picking pieces up because we are.  When the first thing is all the way picked up, my older toddler will then be ready to pick up the next thing and ask me, “What next?”  I say, “Hmm….what do you think we should pick up next?” She will say something and then we tackle that thing too!
  3. No Time to Clean Slowly: Race!  Yes really, race!  Tell your toddler to pick up the toys as fast as he/she can and see who wins!  If they win, they get a special treat (or other positive reinforcement used in your house)!  My daughter loves this.  She thinks it is so fun to run around her room picking everything up as fast as we can.
  4. Non-Toy Cleaning:  I use the above tactics for the rest of the rooms too if they have gotten destroyed by my two toddlers.  Sometimes I will find pots and pans on the kitchen floor or rolls of toilet paper on the bathroom floor, etc.
  5. Mommy’s Little Helper:  Both of my toddlers love to play the role of ‘mommy’s little helper’ when it comes to other types of cleaning, like cleaning the shower walls for example.  I give my younger toddler a damp wash cloth and my older toddler and myself a cleaning wipe, and we go to town cleaning the shower wall.  I will let them help me clean the outside of the toilet, the counters, the cabinets, and everything else.  They do not think of this as cleaning; they just think it is fun!
  6. Spills:  Clean up the bulk of the spill yourself, hand your toddler a damp wash cloth and ask if they can clean as good as mommy can!  It is a challenge for them, and they want to do what you do so this helps a toddler want to clean!  Then hand them a dry paper towel and keep one for you and see who can dry it up the fastest.
  7. Craft Messes:  When we are using things like crayons, markers, pom poms, or anything else that can be left behind, I tell my older toddler she can have a sticker if she helps put everything back in their box/bag while mommy cleans up the messy paint, glue, or whatever else needs an adult to clean up.

There are so many other ways to help encourage an unwilling toddler to help you clean.  Just because you are the mom does not mean that all of the cleaning load should be left to you!  I am certainly not advocating having your children clean all day long, but if they made a mess and are unwilling to clean it up, make it fun and get creative with ways to encourage them to help out!


Thank you so much Kendall from Home Learning Journey for sharing these great tips! For more tips, advice, and activities for toddlers head over to the {Raising Tots} page.

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  1. […] My girl toddler is a professional at getting everything everywhere. Her room will be completely cleaned before bed and before it is time to clean again, it has turned into a huge mess.  At least with age, she is getting a lot better, and she is doing most of the clean up all by herself now without any help from me.  I actually did a guest post for a friend about how to help encourage your toddlers to help clean. […]

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