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Spring Cleaning with Toddlers

Spring cleaning snuck up on me this year,  I was sitting in my new armchair happily reading “All-of-a-kind Family” by Sydney Taylor, when I came into the chapter entitled “dusting is fun.”  I was struck by the standard of cleanliness the 1912 Mama demanded of her home. I mean, she had 5 daughters, a husband in the junk business, and no modern conveniences except for electricity.  Feeling thoroughly chastised, I walked into my kitchen, opened the cabinet under the sink and began to clean my house. Then it occurred to me, like Mama in the story, I should get my kids in on the cleaning fun! So here are my 5 tips on getting littles involved in spring cleaning.

Closet clean out

Does your toddler like putting on clothes herself, only to turn around take those off, throw them on the floor and repeat? I’ve found that when I go through her dresser drawers she is waiting to try something on.  What I do when sort through her clothes is declare “Fashion Show!” I hand her a bunch of outfits to try on (usually frilly dresses I’m pretty sure still fit) while I go through her clothes. I quickly sort out the good, the give away and the stained. Because she is distracted by layers of tulle, I am able to get through this task in a reasonable amount of time.  The good clothes are folded back into her drawers, the give away items are put into a Publix reusable bag, and the stained are re-purposed as clothes for her baby dolls.  

Baseboard derby

Pinterest seems to always suggest that when you dust, to start from your ceiling and work you way down.  That is fine for most people, however I don’t know if you know this, but toddlers love to copy you. For example, when I stand on a chair to dust my fans, my two year old is also trying to stand on the same chair. Since I don’t want her to get hurt, and don’t want to have a heart attack,  I don’t follow this advice. I’ve decided to dust the fans when she takes a nap, and we work on our baseboards instead.  We simply take a dryer sheet and run it across the length of the woodwork.  Since my toddler likes to do things:

  1. Just like mommy
  2. Fast

If I set her up at one end of the hallway, and if I start at the other end, we both usually meet in the middle and amidst giggles.  The only downside to this is that my daughter now likes to do this at other people’s houses, and they look at me with concern in their eyes.  Why is this precious two year old on hands and knees dusting their baseboards? Well, because I made dusting a game.

Sweep dance party

Like most two year olds, my daughter loves to wiggle. Since she started her library class last fall she has been singing “shake, shake” and “wiggle, woo” around the house non stop. When I sweep the floor she wants to try it too, so we’ve made it into a game. On goes the freeze dance song, and we dance with our mop and broom until the music stops, then we freeze. We both love it.  I love that she is learning life skills at a young age, and she loves that she gets to “help” mommy. Of course this is another one of those things that make it awkward when we visit other people’s houses and she wants to sweep their floors.

Refrigerator cooking show

You should be cleaning out and wiping down your refrigerator regularly.  While not the most fun job on my list of spring cleaning chores, my daughter and I have found a way to make this fun.  Once a week we get together with their Tia and watch Master Chef and Master Chef Jr.  So when it comes time to clean the fridge, my chatty two year old and I try to come up with creative meals in effort to not waste food, and clean out the fridge.  Our favorite meals are:

  1. Egg ommeletes with rice, corn, tomatoes and scallions inside. A side of reheated beans usually completes this meal.
  2. Left-over salad with oranges, tomatoes, bananas and sweet peppers.
  3. Yogurt-cereal parfait.  Usually parfaits use granola, but in a pinch slightly stale frosted Cheerios work wonders.

Want to encourage independence in your toddler? Ask them to help you make leftover fridge clean out meals too.  

Post office / Consignment shop relay

At the end of the day, when the baseboard derby is over, the floors have been dance-cleaned, the leftover meals eaten and the clothes sorted out, its time to run one last errand.  Running her clothes to Once Upon a Child in Wellington, and mailing my closet donations to Thred Up. Consignment is not only a great way to make $8 in a pinch, but it reduces textile waste. And like the rest of this spring cleaning day, it teaches your daughter not to be wasteful, and to think of others. Other people can use the clothes we’ve outgrown. Not only that mama, but if you live on the other side of the county, a drive up to Wellington can mean a nice nap for your toddler, and some peace and quiet for you.


Now tell me, what are your tips for spring cleaning with toddlers?

One Response to Spring Cleaning with Toddlers

  1. Avatar
    Nanny E March 16, 2018 at 7:50 am #

    Love it. We also grew up, playing (working) cleaning the house. Putting clothes by size and color…
    It was passed along generations. Just ask uncle Andy…keep writing you are an inspiration and we are so proud what a good mama you are!