To a toddler, chaos rules. Toys, books, clothes, shoes, food, and anything else he touches will likely wind up on the floor, walls, or anywhere else you don't want them to be. To a parent who enjoys an organized home, chaos is like Kryponite to Superman — spine-weakening, strength-sapping, and morale-killing.
It can be difficult to find the time, patience, and the will to parent when you feel like a permanent maid. However, a fastidious parent can survive the messy, disorderly, tornado of clutter and disorganization produced by a toddler. And a truly determined parent can teach toddler to be neater and enjoy taking time to clean up.
Clean as You Go
When toddler is done playing with a toy and it likely won't be used again that day, try to clean up immediately. You won't be able to get everything done — and you don't want to take quality time away from your child — but cleaning a little throughout the day makes the end of the day a lot easier.
Set an Example
Let toddler see you cleaning up and putting things away. They often imitate our behavior, and if we set a good example, maybe they'll pick up some of those habits. Explain to him that cleaning up toys keeps them in one piece, and if we know where they are they can quickly find them the next time they want to play with them. If they grow up in a neat, organized house, chances are they will want to live that way, too.
There will be times when your toddler needs to be involved in the cleaning process. Once he's done playing with Lego's and is moving on to his train table, take a moment and ask for his help in filling up the Lego bin. It might require some negotiating but it will be well worth it.
Learn to Let Go, and Don't Obsess the Mess
So what if your house isn't as tidy as it was when you were first married? So what if you can't have all those knick-knacks and picture frames lining your tables? Your house — or at least parts of it — have become a giant playroom. It won't be like this forever so try not to sweat it. Remember — there will be a day when your children are grown that you will miss the chaos and energy your toddler brought into your home.
Time with our little ones is precious. They enjoy our company and they constantly learn from us. If you have to choose whether to spend time straightening up the playroom or playing with toddler, it's a no-brainer — get on the floor, grab a truck, and start making construction noises. There'll be time to clean up later.
Ask for Help
If one spouse is the "neat freak" and the other one isn't, then there might be a conflict. With children in the house, you and your spouse will need to be on the same page as far as keeping the house tidy. With a mountain of toys littering your house, don't be afraid to ask your spouse for a little help each day in keeping the place looking presentable.
Set Rules and Follow Them
At the end of the day, make it a priority that toddler helps clean the playroom or their bedroom. It only needs to take a couple of minutes to put toys in boxes or books on shelves. Once you establish a routine it should be easier to follow. An occasional, little reward for your child's help doesn't hurt.