How to clean up after children

We all love kids but there is no denying that they are messy little creatures. Cleaning up after them is a bit of a never-ending ride, best summed up by comedian Phyllis Diller when she said: Cleaning the house while your kids are still growing is like shovelling the walk before it stops snowing.

We have some great cleaning for kids tips below, and whether you have a cleaning service or not, these are super helpful for keeping on top of things around your own home or within the child care centre you work for:

Get the kids to help you

It may sound like the impossible dream, but there are actually ways you can get the kids to help you clean up. You just need to either make it fun, or have some kind of challenge.

  1. Set a timer for clean ups

    Have a special timer sitting in the corner of the classroom (or at home) that buzzes at regular intervals throughout the day. Make this the ‘clean up timer’ and teach the kids that when that timer goes off, they have a few minutes to do a crazy fast tidy up of the area they are in. They will enjoy jumping up and buzzing around the room trying to get the toys back into boxes before the time is up.

  2. Have a special song

    Make clean up time fun by having a special clean up song. Make sure it’s energetic, upbeat and fast. Play the song loud and sing and dance to it while packing up.

  3. One thing at a time

    Young kids get overwhelmed with big projects such as ‘clean your room’ at home or ‘tidy the entire play area’ at preschool. Cut the tasks down into smaller chunks and you will notice they are much more likely to complete it. First, ask them to simply pack up the board game they are playing. Once they’ve done that, ask them to put the dolls back in the tub and continue on until everything is neat. If they start to get bored, make it a challenge, such as ‘see how many paint pot lids you can replace compared to me’.

  4. Mix it up

    Kids are cluey and will tire easily of these games, so make sure you mix it up a little. Try doing the timer one day, then the song the next and so on.

Organisation is key

The top tip for cleaning of any kind is to be super organised and to have a place for everything. It’s hard to keep a daycare tidy if you don’t have a home for all of the toys and craft supplies. And it’s impossible to get the kids to help out with the cleaning if they can’t find where they are supposed to put things! Make sure everything has its place, and label the tubs or drawers clearly with either a word label (for older kids who can read) or a picture label (for the little ones). And if you have an after hours childcare cleaning service it will help the team find where to pack away stray items as well.

In your own home, have allocated playing areas and make sure the toy storage is near by. This will stop the spread of toys throughout the house.

Keeping clean after a craft session

Painting, crafting and all other sensory play can get messy very quickly. The best option is to keep these kinds of activities to the outdoors so you only simply have to hose down the deck or tiles when finished. But in colder areas or during wet weather you may need to do the messy play inside, and will therefore need to clean it up afterwards. The best idea for any busy daycare centre is to hire professional cleaners to come in at least once a week. This way you can just do a general tidy up but know that the centre will get a thorough clean later and you can concentrate on looking after the children.

A great way to get the children prepared to help clean up after craft is to let them know before you even begin the activity what you’ll be expecting from them. Read the children a book about cleaning up, such as Clean Up Time and when it is time to clean after craft they will be prepped and ready.

Cleaning toys

Cleaning all of the toys in a daycare or at home is a good way to stop the spread of germs after an illness has visited. It can be quick and easy to keep toys clean, here are some tips:

Plastic toys (with no batteries or electronics): Simply soak the toys in warm soapy water, giving them a quick scrub, and rinse in clean water before taking them out to dry. Alternatively, pop the toys into the dishwasher with some eucalyptus oil.

Plastic toys (with batteries or electronics): Fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray the whole surface of the toy. Wipe clean and allow to air dry.

Washable soft toys: Throw them in the washing machine (preferably with like coloured toys) and then the dryer. Even when the toys feel dry on the outside, continue drying them as the inside might still be damp and will be a breeding ground for bacteria if they stay wet. If the toys are too large for washing or are not machine wash suitable, tie them up in plastic bags and leave them in the freezer overnight. This will kill any dust mites that might be living inside the toys.

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