By Kristie Stoddard
Summer can be such a wonderful time to play outdoors and relax with your little ones, but if you are experiencing the heat like we are here, that means a lot more indoor play than usual! With all that extra indoor play time, things tend to get, well, a little messy.
Do your kids struggle to clean up after play time, do you end up having to find places for all the toys at the end of the day? If you said “yes” or “sometimes,” keep reading.
I first heard of this organizational method several years ago when I lived in Texas. A friend of mine who had ten children used it, and taught it to other moms. Since that time, I’ve met several moms that utilize the same simple organization method and they have had great success!
Here’s what you do:
- Purchase four large storage containers.
- Label each box with a season: “Spring,” “Summer,” “Fall,” “Winter.”
- After the children are in bed, sort everything into the four boxes. Sort the toys, stuffed animals, games and puzzles evenly so that each box has a balanced amount of each item in the box. Also, have a trash bag and a give-away box while you are sorting.
Once you have everything sorted, deep clean the room. Pull the shelves out, dust and vacuum. Once the room is clean, you can empty the one box that is the current season back onto a shelf and organize the items. If you don’t have shelves for toys, simply keep everything in the one storage container. Put the storage containers that are not in use away in a closet, basement or attic. Rotate the boxes every three months. The children will be enamored with their “new” old toys and will spend hours re-acquainting themselves with them.
At the end of the day, your kids will be able to put away their activities and toys easily when they finish playing. I recommend establishing a rule to play with only 2-3 toys at a time. This helps them learn the important habit of putting things away when they are done with them. If your kids are allowed to play unrestricted in a toy room, at least have them put their toys away everyday before dinner or before going to bed. Once your room is organized, it will be much more attainable for them to tackle picking up their things. When my children were small, we’d have a 10-minute clean every day at 4:30 p.m. I’d turn on some up-beat music, extremely loud, and everyone would run around cleaning with joy for the entire 10 minutes. The children looked forward to our clean-up time as much as they did the play time. I think it was the music …
Now that the room and toys are ready, you must teach your kids how to pick up after themselves and be consistent. Telling them to go clean their rooms can be overwhelming to children, especially if they have not be taught how to clean it up. Carefully take the time to instruct and demonstrate what you expect. Work with them when they are little and help them. It is important to model what we want done, and how we want it done. Eventually, they will gain the necessary confidence to clean up with a good attitude.
Also, keep the room simple. Don’t keep too much stuff. After you sort your boxes by season, if you still have a lot of toys, it will be hard for the child to keep it neat and organized. Also, having too many things to choose from can be overwhelming.
KRISTIE STODDARD is from a missionary and military family. She has learned well the art of organizing and multi-tasking through her years of homeschooling four children, fostering several, directing two home-educators programs, and being the helpmeet of her church-planting-pastor husband, Adam.