So now that I've addressed the purging comes the big question:
How do I get my toddler to actually pick up after himself?
Good question. When I first started asking my son to clean up his toys, he gave me that deer-in-headlights look. I'm thinking, "Why is this so hard!?! You just got all your toys out in 5 seconds flat, now just put them back!!"
But if I step back for a second and get on his level I understand he is too overwhelmed to know where to begin.
The first couple times I had to sit with him to instruct him. I learned a lesson in the process: DO NOT DO IT FOR THEM! Otherwise when you ask them to clean up, they will tell you, "No, Mommy do it!" as mine did. Haha... Funny, kid!
So this is how I got him to start cleaning up on his own:
I purged and organized his toys (see my previous post: Household Tornado Part 1: Prevention).
Identified one type of toy he should put away first, such as all the balls. I allow myself to encourage him or sit with him, but I cannot do it for him.
Once one kind of toy is put away, moved on one-by-one (cars, trucks, dolls, animals, books, etc.) until everything is put away.
Breaking it down allows them to start identifying one object from another in a big assortment and eventually they will be able to do it in their own.
I had only done this method a couple times and then one day I said "Nap time!" and when I turned around he had cleaned up everything by himself. Not only was I giddy with happiness, but he was beaming as well.
He knew it was a job well done.