Having your toddler’s friends round may mean your house ends up looking like a hurricane has hit, but a few simple steps will make cleaning up afterwards feel like child’s play
1. Use simple storage
Make the toy tidy-up simpler by having large baskets or containers that you can quickly chuck things into. Boxes with lids and wheels are useful as they can be pushed into the corner so they’re out of the way.
2. Get your toddler involved
Many hands make light work so encourage your little one and her friends to put things away after they’ve finished playing with them. If it’s left until the end of the day, turn it into a game or race to tidy up as quickly as possible. And think about the language you use – research from the Journal of Child Development found that if you ask if your child wants to be ‘a helper’ rather asking her ‘to help’ it will make her more likely to take action.
3. Restrict play to one room at a time
Rather than letting the children run riot throughout the house, try to keep them in one room for one activity, such as playing with toys, and then move them into the kitchen for painting or crafts. That way you can have a mini tidy-up between each session.
4. Lay out sheets
If you’re doing something messy, a sheet spread out on the floor can mean crumbs, plasticine or paints don’t get ground into the carpet and saves you a vacuuming job at the end of the day. You can then gather up the whole sheet and put it straight in the washing machine.
5. Stack if you can’t wash up
If your play date has included lunch, tea or a cooking activity and the kitchen is now covered in plates, bowls and cutlery, stack items into neat piles and put dirty pans into the sink so they’re out of sight. That way, you’ll have clear reasonably clear surfaces that will make it feel tidier.
6. Turn up the radio
Or put on music that will help to raise energy. Dutch researchers have discovered that music is linked directly to your motivation levels, so putting on something uplifting will help you tackle tidying jobs with plenty of energy. We reckon a burst of Happy by Pharrell does the trick for us…
7. Use reward charts
Your toddler will love getting stickers or a stars on a reward chart for helping you to tidy up. You’ll be amazed what the promise of a Queen Elsa sticker will do for motivation.
8. Set a target for tidying
If you’ve got a little band of helpers, set up a spot in the room where you want them to put everything. It’s much easier to pick up or clean away items from one area of the room than if you have to keep rushing all over the place (and you’re less likely to trip over small people).
9. Work from the bottom up
If your house looks like a bombsite, start by clearing the floor and working your way up. So next, tidy the sofa or coffee table, then the tables and surfaces and leave shelves and walls (including those stray crayon scrawls) until the end and if you still have time. That way, you’ll at least have somewhere to walk through and somewhere to sit down after a play date, even if the remaining tidying up has to wait a bit longer.
10. Do a speed clean
If a job takes less than one minute – for example wiping a table down – do it, because it won’t take much attention or time away from your child, but it will help you keep on top of cleaning and tidying jobs through the day and mean you won’t have so much to do at the end of the day.
What are you tips for a quick post-play date tidy-up? Let us know in the comments box below.