Mothering Forum banner
1 - 8 of 8 Posts

· Premium Member
12,212 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm stumped about how to begin teaching dd the basics of cleaning up after herself - laundry in the hamper, toys carried from living room to her room, that kind of thing.

There was no constructive teaching in my household growing up about this kind of thing - there was *lots* of yelling, verging on verbal abuse, for having a messy room, but I was never taught the basics of cleaning or assigned simple chores. (I'm still a little weak on some of the basics, but that's another thread!) Obviously I don't want to go that route!

I've tried asking dd nicely and very specifically - I'll say, "please pick up your pajamas and put them in the hamper." Sometimes she does it. Sometimes she says she's too busy
. Sometimes she LIES to me and says she's done it when instead she's purposefully just dumped her clothes or whatever onto the floor in another part of the house.

So - what? A job chart with gold stars? An end of the day (or beginning of the day) routine? A song? I don't want to punish her or yell but I would like to teach her that there are consequences, or at least results, of not being tidy. And I don't want to be picking up her pajamas for the rest of my damn life.

Please help!

· Registered
1,130 Posts
Here are some of my thoughts...

What about incorporating some sort of routine so she would know what is expected. For example, every evening at around 6:00 would be clean up time and you would work on cleaning up the play area together and put all the toys and dolls to sleep for the night. You could also do this for the week if things fall into a fairly typical schedule for you...Monday is laundry day, Tuesday is clean the windows day, etc.

Also, what about coming up with some songs to help make it more fun? There is the ever popular clean up song and you can make the song "this is the way we ...." be about anything. "This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth...."

For a child this age, I think you often have to move along with the child in the action you want her to do. Sometimes it's easier for them to go along with the chore if you are doing it along with them....they love to imitate.

Just some thoughts, hope it helps some!

· Registered
3,041 Posts
Well the little simple things you are talking about i started with my kids from the time they could do them and understand what i was saying about 18 months ++ My ds 4 y/o picks up his room on his own every night before bedtime, take his cloths to the laundry room, clear his dishes after a meal, get himself dressed, ect. DD 2 y/o can pick up her toys if i'm in the room helping her, is starting to follow her brother in the other things but still needs help with them.

· Registered
2,531 Posts
nods...i agree with routine and also making chores fun.
we sing the clean up song when its time to clean up. My now almost 4yo LOVES to help me clean. I give her a paper towel and spray a mirror or window and she cleans. She uses a prefold to dust the tables with me - and she does a darn good job. We whistle while we work too
or sing. or play music really loudly and dance. She helps me make my bed and then hers. She helps me put diapers on the line..handing me clothespins.

She sets the table for dinner. I give her the napkins and forks and she can put them out in their places. While i dish up food and her sister gets everyone drinks (she's almost 15).

She also helps dad get the dogs food. She can carry over the bowl and uses a cup to get cupfulls of dogfood and pour it into the bowl.

i think thats it for actual chores. But we've been doing this since she was about 18mos old - she takes off her clothes and they go in the laundry basket. So its not something new kwim? I think its consistency tho. When we get undressed the clothes go in the hamper.

let her help you fold too. Dd loves to fold the cloth napkins and does a great job now actually. She also loves to help empty the drier and tell me whos things are whos "oh, those are daddys socks. we need two of those. oh, thats your favorite shirt mama. can i help fold that?" etc.

i think if its teamwork and we do these things together its alot more fun and less of a battle. We don't say 'please pick up your shoes and put them by the door' we say 'come get your shoes and i'll get mine and we'll go put them away. or lets go get your shoes and put them by mine'.

anyway. hope soem of this rambling helps

· Registered
3,236 Posts
I ditto the routine idea. My dd and I have a morning routine which includes doing the breakfast dishes, (she is responsible to put her dishes by the sink), making the bed, (she is responsible to lie in the bed while I make it
) getting dressed which includes putting our bedclothes in the hamper, and tidying the house, putting away toys, books etc before we go out to water the garden or for our walk.

Keep it consistent. She will learn. DD is 31 months and really gets it. I have been doing this since about 6 months. Now that she is old enough to help she does. Before this she just tagged along with me while I did the chores.

· Registered
832 Posts
My DDs are 3 and 16 months and they both do simple chores. Maddie(3) feeds the dogs and picks up her toys. She also puts her clothes in the hamper at bath time and will "make" the bed with help. She actually loves to make the bed.
Mary-Grace(16m) will pick up toys with her sister and put dishes in the sink if I ask her. I think a lot of it has to do with showing them how to do it and just being consistent. We have fun too. We sing and dance when we pick up toys. Also I have to remind myself that they are young and take forever sometimes. That gets under my DH skin and he has to remind himself that they are 3 and 1. I also think it helps to start young and expect them to do age appropriate chores. You can't wait until they are 10 and then expect to clean their room if they have never cleaned it before.

· Registered
7,222 Posts
i agree with aove posters. dd is better about putting her dirty laundry in the laundry pile than dh is
she will hold it up and say "dirty" trying to get it in the laundry chute.

another idea for picking up the general chaos that ones play space can become is to set a timer. say 3 minutes. how much can you get done in 3 minutes. when 3 minutes are up, leave it. if you get her excited about it and have easy spots to put things away, it will go really fast. Or 5 minutes, or as an adult we clean for 15 minutes.

my dd just yesterday (18 mos) learned that laundry comes out of the dryer and goes into the basket (laundry is in the basement and she's usually not down there). I think we're going to start having her unload the dryer into the basket.

she also does little things for me -- when she spills water or something she helps clean it up. it is so regular now that if she spills water she goes to the drawer we keep the towels in and gets one to start cleaning up.

When I am taking laundry off the line she puts the clothespins back in the basket for me.

When I clean the floor she has a spray bottle (of water) and a rag. It helps that I just use water or vinegar and water rather than something more harsh.

On any number of these things, yes it would be soooo much easier to do without her, but she still likes helping mama so I think it is a great way to get her involved.


· Registered
1,474 Posts
Where did she learn to dump clothes all over the floor? The first thing to do would be to work on eliminating the model or expectation underlying this habit. For example, in my house, she would have learned from dh and me, and the first solution would be for us to consistently put *our* clothes in the hamper, all the time. (Is there a blushing crimson smiley somewhere here?) Or, on some level, do you expect her to do this because she is a child? That would take a little more effort, because changing assumptions from our upbringing and culture takes a lot of thought...

Once it is truly expected that everyone in the household will put clothes in the hamper, you can help your dd catch on by saying matter-of-factly, as if casually passing on information, "Dirty clothes go in the hamper," then continue with what you were doing (incl. leaving the room, if you were doing that) without watching to see if she "obeys". Just act as if you assume that knowing that it is the custom, dd will naturally want to put her clothes in the hamper. (Really assuming this is nice, but not always possible, I realize.

If that didn't work, you might consider continuing to pick up clothes yourself, but trying to positively involve dd. Although it may seem like she should simply be able to remember to put her clothes in the hamper, many kids learn these habits best by joining in first, then taking over for themselves. So, at the end of the day, you could say (while already including her in your housekeeping routine), "Ok, now let's pick up all the dirty clothes and put them in the hamper." Eventually, your dd would probably start imitating this behavior on her own time.



Originally Posted by Penelope
...I would like to teach her that there are consequences, or at least results, of not being tidy.
What are they? You could always let her suffer them out, or let her see others suffering them out. I can imagine myself telling my dd, "You'll have to go naked tonight, because you have no clean pajamas," or, "We can't go out this morning, because you have no clean clothes to wear." She would get distraught, and ask why. If I said, "They didn't get into the washload, because they weren't in the hamper," I'm pretty sure dd would initiate a discussion about how we were going to wash her clothes, and walk around the apartment making sure they all ended up in the hamper. That's my dd, maybe something a little different would feel natural to you with yours. But basically, the idea is to establish your personal boundary (e.g. refusal to pick up others' clothes every time you have to wash) in a non-punitive, non-nagging way.

Or, maybe you don't really care that much about pajamas on the floor, but feel you "should" push this issue because it's your responsibility as her mom to teach her to clean up after herself. If so, you could always consider dropping it and letting her learn what you truly believe is important. In our household, what generally happens is that we all go around and clean up after our messy selves every so often, with dd voluntarily part of the "we". On laundry day, dd will happily join in gathering up clothes and sorting them, and we don't bother making distinctions re: which clothes are whose responsibility. Occasionally we try to get better about keeping things constantly clean, then I get pissy with dh about his shorts and pants on the floor right next to the bed I carefully made while getting pissy with dd about playing the getting-on-covers-while-I-make-bed game, and we do the whole telling dd that clothes go in the hamper thing. (She tends to comply, but somewhat inconsistently, because it's pretty obvious that clothes quite often don't go in the hamper.) Then after a day or two I come to my senses and accept that it really isn't worth it to me.

HTH?! (Or, disregard everything I've said?
) Seriously, everything before the last paragraph was suggestions I got from other people/books, which have worked for me on issues I actually cared about. So maybe you can just disregard a *lot* of what I've said!
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.