Practical Life Skills – Cleaning with Toddlers

Toddlers love to do what they see their parents doing.  I’m kind of a neat freak, so I have a cleaning schedule for myself with one task to be done each day.  L loves helping out!  I swear I’m not running a sweatshop out of my house — L is genuinely excited to help me clean the house.  Now, she’s only 1 and a half.  Does her cleaning actually produce huge results?  Not really.  But does it help some?  Absolutely.  Especially now that I’m hugely pregnant and cannot reach some places easily.
If your child shows an interest in whatever you are using to clean with (as long as it’s not chemicals…), let her try it out!  I use swiffer sheets to dust, and L has loved that since before she was even 1 year old.  Sometimes she dusts really odd places (like her stomach), but she usually sticks to what she sees me dusting.  This is a great set of cleaning supplies that are the perfect size for toddlers.
When L was about 14 months old, she saw me using a push broom on our back patio a lot.  She tried using it, too, but it was too long and heavy for her to maneuver, so she got extremely frustrated.  We ran out to Target and found a push broom that is just her size, and she uses it almost every time we go outside.
When L was about 15 months old, she started being a little scared of the vacuum cleaner.  I thought it might help her fear if she was able to help vacuum, so I showed her how to use a hand-held vacuum.  Now she loves it!  Every time we get out the vacuum (and many other times!), she runs for the hand-held vacuum to help.  My living room floor is looking a lot cleaner these days.
L is also very helpful when it comes to weeding.  Our back patio is made of old stones, and unfortunately there are often weeds growing up between them.  My husband started pulling some of the weeds up while they were outside one day, and L immediately joined in.
With most of these cleaning tasks, we didn’t have to encourage L to join in or set it as a “chore” for her to complete.  She wanted to to do it all by herself, so we let her — seriously, who would turn down free, happy labor!