I’ve absolutely had my fill of stepping on Legos embedded into the rug and tripping over trucks and dinosaurs.
I did my duty before the holiday with the big toy purge making room for the treasures my children are blessed to receive. Here we are a little over a week later and quite honestly things haven gotten out of hand. Not placing blame, but a very adorable 3 year old running about is likely responsible.
So being a veteran Mom, I pulled a trusty ol’ trick out of my hat. I took a big red bag, explained that all toys needed to be picked up or I would place them in Mom’s red bag, turned the timer on my phone to five minutes and watched my 3 year old completely call my bluff.
As we sat there, I reiterated that I WILL be placing all toys not put away into my red bag. He stared back finally uttering a whiny, “Wwhhhhyyy????”
“Because.” I said. (The parental answer that covers all possible objections.)
About a minute and 43 seconds in, he finally picked up a car and proceeded to play with it…..all while watching me out of the corner of his eye. OH! He was playing hard ball and I admit I was smacking my lips waiting for that timer to ding so I could show him who was REALLY in charge.
Finally, timer dinging, my moment came and I declared, “Okay, time for toys to go into Mom’s red bag!” I began placing toys in the bag in spite of his cries and protests. He eventually realized, “Mom was not kidding!” and hurriedly picked up some toys to put away. All in all, I was able to gather a fair amount and for those of you who may think this is a little harsh, hear me out before you brand me as Mommy Dearest…..this has some great benefits:
- Broken toys can be collected, thrown away, out of sight and sans any tears.
- Outgrown toys can be placed in a bag to be donated and quickly shuffled into car…they will be none the wiser.
- For items with many pieces this gives you a chance to collect many of those pieces, find a container they fit in and return to your child (once they earn it back) so that it now has a home it belongs in.
- All toys mixed together creates a chaotic play space for kids. They sometimes create that mess because they can’t find the toy they really want to play with.
- Let’s face it we all have too much stuff. This teaches kids that it’s ultimately all “stuff” and they CAN live without it for a few days.
- Gives you an opportunity to teach great lessons such as showing appreciation for their belongings, teaching children how to help keep the family home clean and truly they are proud of themselves once they earn the toys back!
Toys are earned back after kids do good deeds. I try and make sure that they also know and understand where the toy belongs once they are done playing with it.
As with any parenting issue this isn’t 100% infallible. Although it works beautifully with teenagers……but prepare for the incredibly dramatic response!