Jan 28, 2011

How to 'help' your kids pick up their toys

In our house, toward the end of the evening most stretches of the floor look similar to this:



Sometimes much worse, but you can rest assured that there will be at least three LEGO men, assorted balls and several pieces of weaponry strewn about.

And we can't forget about the DSs and the DS games, which multiply like rabbits around here ... and then somehow get lost like Oceanic flight 815 every other day.



I'm sorry, but all that crap totally spoils the look of my Pottery Barn apothecary chests.



The boys, of course, act like we're pulling their toenails out with pliers when we ask them to pick up their toys. So we designated a box -- now know as "The Box" -- that holds everything that Grayson and I are left to pick up at the end of the night.

When the boys go to bed, anything that's left on the floor or the ottoman gets swept into The Box. See? It stays nice and full.



Right now it's got two swords, several Wii and DS games ...





Nick's beloved piggy ...



Nick's Alabama cap ...



And hundreds of tiny little things like Zhu Zhu Pets, Wii remotes, Transformers, books, LEGO men and those blasted Might Beanz.



The deal is, every Saturday (based on good behavior), each of the buys gets to choose ONE item to pull back out of the box. They often have their item in mind well before Saturday, but sometimes nothing they really care about is still in there and they'll just pull something out almost at random.

I'll tell you, this is the single most effective thing we've done to get them to clean up after themselves. The box is nondescript (I'm sure you crafty types can pimp it up nicely, but I'm OK with this one the way it is.)



It sits on top of the shelves that hold my scrapbooking supplies, and the boys can't reach it.



Like anything else, I'm sure the novelty of this "management technique" will someday wear off, but we're enjoying it while it lasts.

12 comments:

Wade's World said...

Genius. I've got to start this. I can see my whole house suddenly transforming into a clean zone again, and my little man has no one to blame but himself!

Seriously, where have your brilliant parenting stratgies been for the past 4 years of my life?

Lacy said...

Wonder if this would work with dogs... ? LOL! Our Golden pulls out every tennis ball he owns (and that is A LOT!) pretty much every night and leaves them strewn (is that a word?) all over the house... some mornings I about break my neck stepping on one!

RLR said...

I'm willing to try something new! I'm nearing completion of the task of rearranging and decluttering 3 rooms upstairs. The TOYS and BOOKS are going to be the end of me. I am sure I have a cardboard box around here that could become our "BOX" - and perhaps it would be a better incentive than anything else.
I'm also thinking that if something stays in THE BOX long enough, it's eligible for the next garage sale/clothing exchange/Goodwill drop-off.

Rachel said...

I think we might have to try this. Sounds like a great idea.

Better Known As Mommy said...

We have something similar. We call ours the lost and found basket and it sits at the end of our hallway. Rather than ask my kids a hundred times to clean up, they are simply asked. Then as I find items they are tossed into the Lost and Found. They have until every Sunday to gather their items. What isn't collected gets donated or put away and earned back!(depending on the item) We donated a lot of random toys in the beginning but the kids have gotten great about keeping things picked up or they fetch it from the Lost and Found each night at bedtime. It just seems to work for us!

paige said...

Another good idea. :) Think it will work on my parents?

This is the day! said...

What a great idea! That trail of clutter happens at our house too. I see a box in my future. I had a major clean up/get rid of clutter project after Christmas. The toys, books, and stuff can seriously overtake your house!

Erin S said...

How does Jake do with it? Does he "get" it?

We tried something similar a while back and it was a hard concept for my 3yo to grasp.

Then again, he may have just been being obstinate, which is known to happen occasionally around here.

brightleigh said...

This is a very good strategy...I might have to borrow it!

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Amy, RLR, Leigh and Rachel, I don't know if it's "brilliant," but I'd love to hear if it works for you!

Lacy, I imagine dogs are sort of outside the bounds of The Box. But I know what you mean about breaking your neck from stepping on a toy!

Better Known, I love it!

Erin, Jake gets it, although he's more prone to forget that something is in the box. He just doesn't care as much as the other boys do, but it might be his more laid-back nature.

catieams said...

I LOVE the idea! Bravo!!

catieams said...
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