I was inspired to write this after hearing several parents talk about how difficult it was to get kids to clean their rooms and that they just couldn’t have a clean house until their children were grown.
There is hope! It is not only possible but it is extremely important to have a tidy home for you and your family. Your home should be your safe space that is a haven from the world, not a place of chaos. Teaching your kids the skills to be organized and clean will be invaluable to them in school and get them far in their careers down the road as well.
Every parent has a love hate relationship with toys. On the one hand, they keep our kids entertained and happy. We love to see our kids happy! On the other hand, we can not stand the clutter and the mess and even the arguing that happens with too many toys.
We love our kids and we want to give them things that will bring them joy. So much so that we continue to buy them more toys for Christmas, birthdays and Easter and use them as bribery for being good in Target, even though we know there are already just too many toys at home!
The toy box is soon overflowing and the kids are “bored”. The Playroom or bedroom looks like an earthquake happened at Toy’s R Us! You are at your wits end and the kids truly don’t know how to clean up. How can they?
So what can we do about all this fun clutter everywhere?
Donate and Dump
Go through ALL the toys!
This can be done with or without your child. You know your kids best. If this is just going to be a crying, fit throwing, unproductive session and they aren’t going to miss the toys anyway, do it without them. If they are very mature and can understand giving to those in need maybe it would be a good life lesson sort of thing for them. Most often doing this without kids is much more productive.
Put ALL the toys in a giant pile and really look at how much is there. Pick each one up. Is it broken or damaged? Dump. Is it no longer interesting or age appropriate? Donate.
Do not donate or dump a favorite toy even if it seems like garbage to you. You don’t want to betray their trust and also don’t want to turn them into hoarders, afraid to let go of anything because you got rid of that one thing that time.
Make piles of like things. Dolls, doll clothes, bottles, blankets, doll stroller in one pile. Legos of all kinds in another pile. Little people farm, castle and cars grouped together. Barbie’s and all accessories. Cars and race tracks. You get the idea!
Anything left that is just a unique item and doesn’t belong to any of the piles, will go into a toy box. If there are too many of these things and they don’t easily fit into the toy box, go back to step one, dump and donate.
Each one of your piles will need an appropriate sized box or tote of some sort. Preferably with a lid so they can be stacked. Some items may not fit into a container. That’s ok. I have Dolls, and clothes and bottles in a diaper bag and that fits into the doll crib. The Little People Farm is on top of a rubber maid container that holds all the little farm animals and tractor. All the Legos are in one rubber maid container as are all the Playdo things.
The next step is finding the best place to store these items. The goal is to have them slightly difficult for the kids to get to. They will be coming to you to ask for the Barbie bin or whatever it is they want to play with next. If they are just on the floor of the playroom it is way too easy to have them all open at the same time. The closet in an extra room, shelves in the garage, even just shelves in a play room that are just out of reach are good places for these. All should be lined up or stacked neatly together.
This is where the real work comes in. Kids don’t just know how to clean up. You have to teach them. Kids ARE great with routine though! Once you’ve established a routine with them it will be easy peasy to keep things in order. It is up to you to make it a habit!
Every time the kids move from one activity to the next, CLEAN UP! If your kids are small you will need to do it with them. Even if they aren’t small you will need to do this with them for a while or at least supervise it.
For instance, the kids are playing with toys from the toy box and decide they want to play babies. Clean up the toys! Put them in the toy box. This should be pretty simple because everything now fits in the toy box.
Go to the closet, or wherever you have the other toys, and take out the baby things. Only the baby things are out and being played with. When they are done with babies, all the baby things are put back in their container and returned to the closet. The next thing can then be taken out to be played with.
Indoor toys stay indoors. Outdoor toys stay outdoors.
You could have 8 kids 0-10 years old and still have a tidy living room or playroom using this method! I promise!
Enjoy. You can be a better person and parent when you have taught your kids how to play and have fun and also to clean up. Enjoy having a tidy playroom, bedrooms and house with less stress and less stuff. You and your family deserve it!
Donate and Dump. You can’t organize clutter. Get rid of what is broken or no longer useful.
Sort. Sort into piles of similar things to be stored together.
Organize. Put the like items in their own bin or tote.
Store. Find a good place to store these bins that are up and out of the way.
Teach. Kids don’t know until they know. One group of toys out at a time! Clean up after every activity.
Enjoy. Enjoy your family more and stress less.
Many daughters have done well,
But you excel them all.Proverbs 31:29