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Guides for Grownups​

5 Timesaving Tips for Toddler Tidy-Up Time

11 June 2024

4 min.

Tidying up with toddlers can sometimes feel like negotiating bedtime when they're not sleepy. Toys strewn across the floor, books scattered about, and a sea of crayons can make any parent feel overwhelmed. But with a few simple strategies, tidy-up time can become a breeze and even a bit of fun.

Here are 5 practical tips to help you and your toddler keep things tidy without the tears and tantrums.


1. Use Fun Labels

Toddlers love colours and visual cues, so create colourful labels for toy bins and storage areas. Involve your child in making the labels for extra fun and investment in tidying up. Place the labels at their eye level and keep the system consistent so they know where everything goes.  

Why It Works:  

Visual Learning: Toddlers are visual learners. Colourful labels help them quickly identify where things belong.  

Engagement: Bright, attractive labels make the tidying process more engaging and less of a chore.  

Independence: Clear labels help toddlers learn to tidy up by themselves, boosting their confidence.  

2. Make Tidying a Game

Turning tidy-up time into a game can transform a mundane task into an exciting challenge. To “play”, set a timer and challenge your child to put all their toys away before time runs out. 

When they finish tidying before the timer, celebrate with a small reward or a high-five. If they don’t, still praise their effort to keep it positive.  

Why It Works:  

Motivation: A race against the clock adds a fun, competitive element that motivates toddlers to tidy up quickly.  

Focus: Games provide a clear objective, helping to focus their attention on the task at hand.  

Praise and rewards: Winning the game can provide a sense of achievement and positive reinforcement.

3. Create Specific Activity Areas

Designated zones for different activities keep your home organised and make tidy-up time more straightforward. Create specific areas for playing, reading, and crafting. Show your toddler each zone and its purpose and reinforce this by tidying up together and returning items to their zones.  

TIP: Place different coloured rugs or mats to visually separate each zone.  

Why It Works:  

Organisation: Defined zones make it clear where things belong, reducing clutter.  

Routine: Consistent use of zones helps toddlers understand the routine and expectations.  

Simplicity: Breaking the space into smaller, manageable areas makes tidying less overwhelming.  

4. Use a Cleanup Song

Music can make any task more enjoyable, and cleaning up is no exception. A fun cleanup song can motivate your toddler to tidy up with enthusiasm. 

Select a simple, catchy song that your child likes. Sing the song together every time it’s tidy-up time. Use the song consistently to help your child associate it with tidying up.  

Why It Works:  

Enjoyment: Singing a song makes tidying up feel like less of a chore and more of a fun activity.  

Memory: Songs can help toddlers remember the steps involved in tidying up.  

Routine: A familiar cleanup song signals that it’s time to tidy, making it a part of their daily routine.  

5. Rotate Toys to Reduce Clutter

Too many toys can be overwhelming for toddlers and make tidying up a daunting task. Rotating toys keeps things manageable and fresh. For some top tips, visit our blog article on Montessori Toy Rotation here.   

Why It Works:  

Focus: Fewer toys mean less clutter, making it easier for toddlers to focus on tidying up.  

Novelty: Rotating toys keeps them interesting and exciting for your child.  

Simplicity: Reducing the number of toys makes tidying up quicker and more straightforward.

By using these tips every day, cleaning up can be easier and even fun. Not just you, but your toddler, too! Remember, the goal is not to be perfect. The goal is to help your child develop a habit that will help them learn organisational skills and develop a sense of responsibility. With a bit of patience and creativity, cleaning up can be fun and beneficial for you and your toddler.