Like many parents, I find it really difficult when the toys are all over the floor at the end of the day. When the children are small, it’s much more understandable – they often cannot put their toys away. But once they get into toddlerhood, they are definitely capable of learning! After 14 years of teaching and nearly 6 years of parenthood, I’ve picked up a few tricks along the way. So, here’s how to get your kids to tidy up!
Make it the routine
In my home, we have set times for clearing up after play. These are usually before meal times and before we go out. I don’t like to be too strict and structured about putting toys away as soon as they have been finished with as one form of play often blends with the next. Octonauts figures can often be found in Duplo houses, for example. As my children get older – and can concentrate for longer on one form of play – I will encourage them to tidy up once they’ve finished playing with each choice.
You’re probably doing this already, but your children need to see how you tidy up. Are you focused, fast and efficient? Or do you get distracted and then it becomes an endless chore? In the same way, if you put everything back into the place where it belongs, you will model to them the idea of tidying up effectively.
Make it a challenge
Put a timer on and see if you can get the space tidied before the buzzer goes. An upbeat song or music will also work well.
An alternative might be to see how many toys each person can put away, and make it a bit of a competition. This is really useful when you have lots of bigger toys but can get annoying when you’ve been playing with Lego!
Give a prize
My eldest son’s teacher has a ‘secret object’ which she picks out before they tidy up. It’s usually a really tiny piece of paper or something similar. She watches to see who gets the secret object, and then rewards them with a sticker. I usually won’t let the children have screen time until it’s tidy.
Use the box method
If you’ve got a home that is really looking chaotic, give everyone a box. Stick together and tackle one room at a time. Everyone has to pick up things that need putting away. After a certain amount of time, challenge each other to put the objects in their box away. This is brilliant with older children too – to be honest, it’s the tidying method I use for myself when things have got out of order!
Keep decluttering your toys
Toy clutter can feel absolutely overwhelming. Keep on top of the clutter by regularly going through the toys – monthly at first and then seasonally – and getting rid of any your children don’t play with regularly. For more ideas on decluttering toys, read this post.
Invest in the right storage
Make it easier for your children to tidy up by making sure you use storage that is accessible for them. If it’s clearly labelled – either with words or pictures – it’ll be easier for them to put the right toy in the right box. For more storage ideas for toys, read this post.