I love to have a clean house where everything has it’s place. My ideal is someone drops over ‘unexpectedly’ and my house looks like it could be in a photo shoot. Unfortunately, my kids do not have that same ideal.
Here are 10 tips I have found in my 10 years of being a mom…
- Place Baskets on a Book Case
When my three girls were toddlers I had different fabric baskets for different toys. Out of sight out of mind… It did turn into a ‘just throw it in a basket’ clean up for them or should I say anyone who cleaned besides me… The different baskets are also good because you can ‘allow’ one out at a time. This in turn is beneficial in keeping the correct toys in each basket. Win, Win right???? Well, for me unless I wanted to be on top of them playing and cleaning up and policing one basket at a time rule, it was not going to happen. Side note, my fabric baskets lost their shape with the daily use.
2. Pick up Toys and Store Away as Punishment
So, when the girls were kid age I enforced rules. As in, if you have NOT picked up your toys after x long or after x many times asking, then the toys were thrown in a laundry basket or garbage bag and stored away. I would love to say this ‘fixed’ the problem but no… But it DOES lead into the next tip.
3. Downsize the Amount of Toys
Once you realized your kids do not miss their toys then you can downsize the amount and types of toys. I have three girls 20 months apart from each other. In case your wondering we had twins. We accumulated a lot! Each girl did NOT have more toys than a normal kid but when you times each thing by 3 it accumulates quickly! Especially at birthday and Christmas time. So, sort everything out and the kids can take turns picking what toy/item they can keep and only do x many rounds. The items you do not keep can be given to grandparents, a family member, donated, or sold at a garage sale. We have family members who do not have children but children visit so they enjoyed having a basket full of our excess toys. Bonus, my kids did not have to pack toys when we would visit. However, I have found that some of these toys made their way back HOME.
The older they get the more they comprehend. So communicate with your elementary age children on organization. Even make it ‘fun’ for them by asking for their opinion on where ‘they’ think the toys should go and how ‘they’ think they will keep it clean and tidied going forward. Offer advice, as in once you are DONE playing with something put it back away and then get the next item out. Each day put EVERYTHING away so each day you KNOW where items are without asking me to help find…
5. Separate What goes in Each Room
For example, all toys go in the toy room. Bedrooms are strictly for clothes and stuff animals. Then since rules are never followed keep a basket so the items can go BACK to their primary room.
6. React with Emotion
You walk into the room and realize you cannot locate the carpet, or that there is NO clear path to their bed. Express your anger and frustration by vocalizing your disappointment or taking away something they enjoy. My go to is no tv or ipod or whatever comes to mind or multiple items depending on my level of anger. Restrict use of items until the room is clean or set a date if you take it upon yourself to clean. Which leads us to…
7. Open a Bottle of Wine and Clean it Yourself
When it gets bad and you just want it clean and done right, open a bottle of wine or your choice of alcohol. You can also substitute to something that is a treat for you if drinking is not your forte. But I am telling you my mood was much better when I had my glass of wine with me. It is possible it was the same night that i felt like crying when I walked in…
8. Be Naive
The children LEARNED their lesson. You downsized the items, you kept a basket so the toys that are not supposed to be in the room can just be ‘thrown’ into the basket instead of the floor. You put everything back in its place AND you looked under the bed. In my case, I found out that when ‘they’ cleaned the previous time that they just stuffed under the bed… Oh my favorite, no food in bedrooms/toy room means NO wrappers correct??? But no, I find them. Anyways, be naive and have hope that THIS time it will stay clean.
9. Out of Sight Out of Mind
Let them be in charge of cleaning their bedroom and toy room. Help them by reminding them that they need to clean x day a week, x long, or my favorite divide the tasks so each one does something different. And shut the door so you can assume they listened. Practice Tip Number 8…
10. Wave the white flag and try to find humor in the situation. Remind yourself of this Persian adage “This too shall pass” because tips 1-9 did not work…