Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Cleaning with toddlers

Whenever I clean I try to involve Kitten as well. There are so many reasons to put that extra effort in. It develops valuable life skills, hand-eye coordination, sense of caring for their environment, independence, they get a chance to be with you and imitate you, which is their primary goal in life at this point. If you perform your tasks with pleasure and positive attitude, they will develop this attitude as well and you will get much more enthusiastic help when they are teenagers. At that age they are all about imitation, so make sure you move purposefully, with a smile, mindful of the eyes watching you. Act like you are enjoying yourself and may be you will actually start to! (As a side note, parenting for me is a tremendous stimulus for self-growth) 

So, instead of cleaning either while kids are asleep (thus wasting your self-time that could be used so much more pleasantly), or making them stay in their own room (which for us would involve a lot of screaming and crying, so I don't even attempt it), or tolerating (or not) whining and asking for attention, hand them the same cleaning tool you are using and they will be happily occupied for some time or even a while. Of course, in some cases you would have to clean after them, so I will share with you how we do it in our house and which tasks I think are the best.

1. Dusting is probably the easiest one. Kitten got so into it, she started dusting the same things as I did and then moved on to her toys. I tried giving her a dry cloth, thinking she would not care but she would not have anything other than what I was using, which is a wet cloth, so that's what she got.
 She polished each of these blocks!
2. Bathroom cleaning. If you are concerned about chemicals, just use baking soda, it cleans perfectly. Here Kitten is in the bathtub, cleaning all around her. No cleanup afterwards if you undress them!
3. Window washing. I use water with some vinegar, so that's safe for her. Of course, I am the one doing the final washing and wiping but until I get to that window she can clean it all she wants.
4. Washing dishes. This is probably Kitten's favorite. I put warm soapy water in a tub and add some non-sharp utensils and plastic plates/cups. She can spend up to 40 minutes playing with bubbles, transferring, spooning and pouring water. She is standing on a chair but if your child is prone to falling from heights use Kitchen Helper instead or something like this.
5. Drying dishes. I only allow to handle non-breakables at this point.
6. Helping Daddy with construction projects. She was actually more interested in crumbling foam but she can also hand bolts and things and she loves making a drill spin (without the drill bit attached, obviously).
7. Doing laundry. Kitten LOVES washing clothes by hand. She also helps me to carry clothes to the laundry room, load the washer and is very proud to push the "Start" button.
She probably does more than these tasks, but I just recently started documenting them, so may be I will do another post once I get more pictures.


  1. У меня просто сердце екает! Ну такая прилежная! Все так аккуратненько делает, с таким важным видом! И ведь правда, потом будет подрастать и хотеть это все делать! Помнишь, как мы с тобой ссорились кто машину мыть будет? Ты прямо Том Сойер :)))) И феминистки тебя не забудут, ты собственноручно создаешь ветвь хороших хозяек (тьфу-тьфу-тьфу) :Р

  2. Yea!! She is sooo wise. I wish I was the same. Do you think boys would be interested in doing such things? K.O.

  3. I think so, at that age they don't care about boy/girl, they just want to do what you are doing. Of course, after certain point Dad becomes more of an authority figure and if Dad is not much into cleaning, boys will definitely consider it to be not worthy of them :) But if my next child is a boy I will try very hard to involve him in all I do too.

  4. Лена, не забудут в плохом смысле?

  5. Ну да, ты же их движение отодвигаешь на века :))) Не те феминистки которые просто борются за равную зарплату, а те, которые не хотят чтобы их заставляли заниматься домашней работой :)