So I’ve spent the weekend with a three year old. I’m not used to this. There are toys and books spread from one end of the house to the other. Everything is sticky, how does this happen? It seems like all I’ve done all weekend is follow Ivy around with a washcloth, picking up toys.
I asked her to help pick up but because our home isn’t really kid friendly it’s kind of hard for her to help. Finally, I remembered baskets. They were a lifesaver when Hailey was little. I went and got a few plastic baskets out of my craft room, told Ivy they were for her toys and she picked them up. My back was grateful, all that bending over was killing me.
When Hailey was little I made the mistake that I’m sure many first time mothers make, I tried to organize my toddler. We had a long, short bookshelf and I organized all of her toys, this goes here and that goes there. When Hailey helped pick up I always went behind her and put things away properly, that kind of defeats having them help.
Eventually I learned that the important thing is that the toys are picked up, not that they are put away according to my alphabetized, color coded system. Three year olds do not care about your system. They want to pick up quickly and get on to the next thing they want to do. That is the beauty of baskets. Everything goes in, and the basket gets put away.
Yes I still occasionally had heart palpitations because there were Barbie clothes in with the Lego’s but Hailey didn’t care so what’s the big deal. I had to rethink my goal, did I want a showroom or did I want the toys off the floor? As Hailey got a little older we would designate baskets for certain toys, Barbie’s, Lego’s, plastic food, sometimes this worked, sometimes it didn’t. Eventually she learned that if you put something where it goes you can find it the next time you look for it. Isn’t that what we try to teach all along?
I think if you allow your child to learn to clean through trial and error, the lesson sticks, and you spend a lot less time separating toys.