When you have young children it can be easy to let their toys and “stuff” take over the house. Here are some tips to tame toddler created disaster-zones.
1. Limit the amount of toys your kids have. I can’t stress this point enough. Small children do not need lots of toys. Pre-school children have limited concentration spans. When faced with an overwhelming amount of choice, many young children will find it difficult to settle at one task.
Discard any broken or inappropriate toys. Toys that are too young for your child can be donated to friends or charities. This also applies to any toys that your child does not enjoy playing with or has duplicates of.
Use the “one in, one out” rule. When a new toy is purchased or received, another must be donated. With babies and very small children it is best to make this decision for them, however as they get older children should be taught the rule and choose the toy to be discarded.
Rotating toys is a great way to limit the number of toys available for play at any one time. Less toys = less mess! Rotating also has the benefit of the kids feeling like they have brand new toys each time you change them.
2. Keep storage simple. Don’t make pack up time difficult for little ones. Keep toys in containers that can be easily moved around the house to make tidying up simple. Plastic tubs or baskets work well. Tubtrugs® (or similar) are a good choice.These type of containers are lightweight, flexible and highly portable, making them easy for little ones to use.
Make pack up time even simpler by labeling storage containers. Simple pictures or photos work best for littlies.
3. Show the way. Most of us are not born organised. Children need to be actively taught to be tidy.
Make pack up time a regular, predictable part of their daily routine. For example you might have pack up time before lunch, before dinner and again before bed. Several short sessions a day prevents the mess from getting out of control.
Be specific about what you want the children to do. An instruction of “Tidy up!” is not detailed enough for small children. You will have more success if you break the job down e.g. “Jack, pack up the pencils please. Milly, you can put away the cars.”
Make a game of it. Use an egg timer or kitchen timer and challenge the kids to finish before the timer goes off.
Reward kids for putting their toys away. Praise, hugs or even a small treat like a sticker, will motivate children to continue their tidy ways.