Back in September, I wrote a post called Age Appropriate Chores: Raising Little Helpers about what we can do to instill an early love of helping in our toddlers (the foundation for molding obedient little cleaner-uppers). If you find that cleaning your house is a particularly difficult time with young children around (you’re not alone) and you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you take a look!
Today, I want to write about one very specific area of cleaning: the floors.
The reason I feel like this deserves a post of its own is because after Rocket turned 2, his “helping” with the floors became quite an obstacle for me to actually accomplish any cleaning. He meant well and was eager to help, but his “help” involved rushing over to the pile of dust and debris I had swept to one end of the room and scattering it all around with his dustpan in an attempt to pick it up.
While I had figured out how to incorporate him into just about every other area of my weekly cleaning chores, I just couldn’t seem to figure out how to include him in this one and still be efficient. I also didn’t want to get frustrated with him, because he genuinely was trying to help. He wasn’t disrupting me on purpose. His intention was to pick up the dust, not to spread it all over the place, and I wanted to positively reinforce that will to help even if he doesn’t quite have the fine motor skills to do so without making a mess.
After a lot of trial & error, I finally have us on a floor-cleaning schedule that does NOT involve redirecting Rocket to something else entirely. I want to share our routine with you.
1. First, we take out the broom set for kids & sweep the rooms- SEPARATELY.
I take out his broom, his dustpan, and his hand broom. He can choose which broom he works with and lately seems to prefer using the hand broom.
I also take out my broom and dustpan. He isn’t allowed to mess with my grown-up cleaning supplies and has to stick with his own.
Now here’s the big secret to success in getting the floors swept around my house. It may seem incredibly simple and DUH!-provoking to you, but this light bulb going off changed everything in our world of cleaning floors.
Before, he and I swept each room at the same time and like I mentioned above, it became a real battle of the dust pile. Now, we sweep separate rooms and then “trade rooms”. He feels like such a big boy handling the responsibility of cleaning his own room all by himself!
Taking a break from sweeping the living room hard floors to sit down on the carpet and examine his hand broom.
Usually to start, I sweep the kitchen while he sweeps the living room. If he tries to venture into my work area, I remind him, “Oh, I’m doing the kitchen, remember? I need your help to clean up the living room. That way, we are getting two rooms done at the same time!”
By presenting it in this positive manner, he feels like such an important and equal contributor in getting our chores done (and his job is important, especially because it allows me to do mine!).
Rather than getting it all in one big pile first like the more seasoned sweeper would do, he spot-sweeps straight into his dustpan and carefully carries his catch over to the trash can. This actually does genuinely decrease my workload!
Emptying his dustpan into the trash can.
As he comes into the kitchen to empty his dustpan, he says, “Hi, Mom!” and as a note to himself, “Don’t spill it!”
As he leaves, he says, “See you later!”
I’ve never smiled so much while sweeping floors.
2. Then, we trade rooms.
After I get done with the kitchen, it’s time to trade rooms. I ask him to search the kitchen for any spots that I missed and tell him that I will do the same in the living room. This way, we have a system where we won’t miss anything!
Spot-sweeping the kitchen.
I then sweep the living room while he searches my already-swept kitchen for stray pieces of dust. The genius of this technique was originally to give me my space while still encouraging Rocket to help, but it turns out to actually be useful. I really do miss crumbs here and there that he finds and sweeps up for me!
This broom set for kids makes a great gift for toddlers (link for purchase at the bottom of this post)!
3. Lastly, we take out the toddler vacuum & vacuum the carpets together.
Using his toddler vacuum cleaner to help Mom with the chores!
When we’re done sweeping all the floors using this alternating room trade-off technique, we vacuum the whole house together. I use my vacuum cleaner (after letting him turn it on for me) and he uses his little toy Dirt Devil.
He is constantly on the move throughout this process to “get” all of the floor, so I always have a chance to clean up where he’s standing. It is no problem to do this one together in the same room. We actually have a lot of fun during vacuuming! In general, cleaning the house became a much more joyful experience since gaining my young sidekick.
Putting his muscles into it.
And that’s it!
Yes, I basically wrote a post just to share with you how thrilled I am about implementing a strategy of sweeping different rooms at the same time. Sometimes it’s the simple things that produce the most wonderful results and are worth sharing with other parents!
This is the weekly floor-cleaning routine we’ve recently settled into that works the best for us. Cleaning floors with a toddler used to be the most challenging of all my housecleaning duties, but now that I know how to make it happen smoothly, there is absolutely nothing to dread when it comes to floor-cleaning (well, mopping is a mom-only activity as of yet).
I believe that toddlers can just about always be included in housework, even if it takes some brainstorming to discover how.
What part of housework do you find most challenging with toddlers? What solutions have you discovered that made life a lot easier? Please share your experiences by commenting below! We parents can always learn from one another.
I want to leave you with the two essential floor-cleaning tools you need to own for your toddler. I don’t know what we’d do without them!
Toddler vacuum: Broom set for kids: