When you see a vacuum cleaner, you see a chore: one more thing you have to do that it feels like you just did and yet will have to do again in mere days. When a young child sees a vacuum cleaner, however, they see nothing but possibility: the noise, the effort required to push and pull an awkwardly shaped machine, the feeling of accomplishment that comes from a job well done.
There’s a reason there are so many toy vacuum cleaners (and toy kitchens, cash registers, strollers, and gardening tools) on the market — kids like to play like they’re grownups. And of all these toys, the vacuum cleaner holds the deepest, most universal allure for toddlers and little kids. At the same time, kids instinctively know, from a very early age, that there is a difference between a toy and the real deal. (This is why a baby will ignore that red plastic musical “TV remote” you bought and slobber all over your actual remote instead.)
So you know what’s better than investing $30-60 on another giant piece of plastic that doesn’t actually do what it pretends to do? Buying your little kids a real (cheap) vacuum. Reddit user U/Talia_al_Grrl explains:
So my mum bought an obnoxious toy vacuum for my kids. Probably cost about 20 bucks. It’s loud and does nothing but pretend to vacuum. I got rid of it and bought a cheap/small Bissell vacuum for 20 bucks to replace it and my 4 year old has been vacuuming every day — he loves it! We’ve been trying to teach him to pick up his toys better and now we tell him he can vacuum once they’re all picked up and he ACTUALLY DOES IT! Plus the bonus of him vacuuming helps with all the crumbs that materialise out of nowhere wherever he goes! He’s so proud of himself after and keeps trying to find other ways to help out around the house because he loves feeling needed. As I type this, he literally just walked up to me and asked, “Mum, can I vacuum?”
“You can vacuum after you pick up your toys,” is a suggestion every parent should try at least once.
Are they going to do a good, thorough job? We know the answer to that. But they’re going to pick up something — a few crumbs, some grass they tracked in earlier, a bit of pet hair — and something is better than nothing.
It might not be particularly easy for them to manoeuvre, but they’ll figure out a way. And sure, they might bang into a table or a wall or two in the process — they’ll do that with the toy version, too. But they will be entertained, they’ll get to feel helpful, and you’ll have one less patch of carpeting to vacuum yourself.