Most days–who am I kidding–all days I feel like all I do is pick up toys. As soon as they are all picked up, the kids get so excited to see bare floor, that they dump a bin out and we start again. It’s my own version of the movie Groundhog Day!! The boys are good (as good as a 9 and 5 year old can be) at picking up their toys, but never without prompting, never without a whole load of belly aching and don’t get me started about their lack of focus. So I’ve tried everything to light a fire under them to get them to pick up and in a timely manner. And to be honest, some days I use, “If you both jump in the shower (go outside, play downstairs…) right now, I’ll clean this up”. It’s just easier.
I’ve gone on and on about my obsession with my timer, and I will have to say, I use it on the boys as well. “Let’s see how much we can get done in 5 minutes.” The results are varied. It does help that every single toy and supply they have goes in a particular place, so it’s more about sorting, which luckily the boys are wired to do. Now if only my husband knew where everything went, we’d be in business!
But I have found a fairly fool proof way to get them to clean up with minimal (not non existent) complaining, stay focused, and get the job done in 5-8 minutes–the clean up story! So at the end of the day, or when we can no longer walk through the living room (several times a day), I will announce, “CLEAN UP STORY!” Based on the level of mess, I will select a long, short or medium length book. The deal is, I read a double page spread, and then they have to put 3 toys each away and then they can come back for the next page. I will increase the amount of pages I read before toy stashing dashes, or increase the number of toys per dash to assure that when the book is done, so is the clean up. End of story!