If you do it once, they will expect it every time.
What annoys you: toys all over the floor, stepping on Legos, puzzles and game pieces thrown around.
What you do about it: complain about it to anyone who will listen, clean up after them every night before you go to bed.
What your kids learn: nothing.
Thanks for coming to my Ted Talk.
Sometimes it can take my 4 year old all afternoon to clean his room. As a mom it is painful to watch how much time he wastes and how much he whines about his dislike of cleaning up after himself, but I still have him do it. Every time.
My kids are used to hearing things such as:
“Did I make the mess, or did you?” [it’s always them]
“I’m cleaning the entire house, would you like to switch and I will clean your room and you can clean the entire house (dishes included?)” [they never choose to switch]
“The TV doesn’t get turned on until the mess is picked up” [sometimes we don’t watch TV becuase the mess doesn’t get picked up]
If it’s a busy day and we don’t have time to pick up all the toys, I leave them as they are, or I pile them for the kids to take care of the next day.
All of my kids, even the 2 year old, are held to the same expectation. He of course gets help from his older siblings because we are all a team and are here to help each other out. But, bottom line is if you make the mess you are expected to pick up after yourself.
I believe that kids are capable of doing things, and those great things include cleaning up their toys.