Works for Me Wednesday -- Toy Chaos

This is my first time participating in Works-for-Me Wednesday, and I'm excited!

After stepping on tiny toys for the one millionth time, I was reminded of a little something I learned from my mother (Hi Mom!). I remember my mom getting fed up at all the stuff my Dad and I left about the house (Lisa, I think you were already at college). Mom grabbed a garbage bag, bagged up all of our stuff that wasn't where it belonged, and hauled it out to the trash. How sad it must have looked to have Dad and I out there rummaging through the garbage. Anyway.

I was inspired. I gave my girls warning. Anything that is not put away by bedtime will be taken away. Over a few days, I removed 5 or 6 large storage totes of toys. Whoa. If they miss something, they can do a chore chosen by me and get it back.

Around the same time I also cleaned out a hallway linen closet, and sorted some toys into it. Puzzles, games, Littlest Pet Shop, things to play with dolls, things to play school, etc. Everything is grouped together. You may take one thing out at a time, it must be returned before you take something else. It's a toy-dedicated closet -- I took out everything else so they know they're allowed to play with anything in the closet. I used some of the shoebox sized storage boxes and some actual shoe boxes. Things are grouped together, and stay grouped together. No more random animals or tiny hair brushes.

Ella (5) doesn't seem to miss anything. Fine. Natalie (3) is more interested. She has earned a few toys back. She does really, really well with the closet toys. She goes in and gets something herself, and puts it back without being told (usually). I think she enjoys the responsibility. They both seem to play better and longer with the Closet Toys as well. Probably something about deciding what you want to play with, and having it all in one place.

What I care about is my feet. I'm stepping on far less toys. Their rooms look way cleaner (they have practically no toys in them now). And they can't play the "I don't know what to do so I'll just dump out this huge bin of unrelated toys all over my floor spread it out as best I can and then leave" game. I don't have to nag them all day to pick up. They get a warning or two, and then it's just taken away.

On a side note, any toy that causes some sort of strife (I HAD IT FIRST!) is put in toy jail. We put it somewhere that they can't get to it, and when they decide they're ready to play with it, they get it back. Usually someone has to cave by not wanting it or saying the other one can play with it first.

My next task is to sort through the bins and get rid of a boatload of toys. Some will go to younger cousins, some to Goodwill, some to my in-laws' church for their new nursery and Sunday School rooms.

It's only been a few weeks on this system, but I am loving it!

Check out the Works-for-Me headquarters for more great ideas and recipes! I'm headed over to see #116 on killing flies. Before I go insane.


Lisa~Crazy Adventures in Parenting said...

Way to go you! Kick some butt and take some names! I'm sooo ready to do the same! Gonna roll my ankle before I give birth, I swear!

AmyK said...

Wow, love it! Brave mama. I may have to try some of this out with my stepdaughter, 'cause she seems to be one of those that thinks toys all over the floor is the new pink.

HarryJack's Mom said...

Awesome job with the plan, Sarah! We do the same thing with cleanup - they have 5 minutes to clean it up, the rest gets tossed. Now we just have to find a closet we can empty to get the rest sorted ;-)

Parker Family said...

I remember when my parents did this to us. We had to earn back our stuff by doing chores and such.

Restored 316 said...

Stopping By!

karen and co. said...

My kid has way too many toys. And yet I keep buying him more. Wonder why that is.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the cleaning! It's a good feeling, isn't it? :)

Mekhismom said...

What a great idea! When my son is old enough I am going to implement this in my home.

Gina said...

Great idea!

Restored 316 said...

See look what Trisha made me do.. I got all mixed up.

TRS said...

Very smart solution. Does Super Nanny know about this?

When I was a teenager my mom got tired of finding my clothes on my bedroom floor and strewn about the room. She started confiscating anything she found on the floor while I was at school.

It was a good idea - until I found her hiding place. But by then she had made her point.

My mom is smart like that.