Most parents will know that getting the kids to tidy up their toys can be a real challenge. Parents all over the UK will be familiar with the delaying tactics and avoidance techniques that kids come up with when it’s tidy-up time. How many of us have stumbled to the bathroom in the middle of the night, half asleep and, suddenly – OUCH! Stepped on a piece of Lego again. What about stubbing your toe on a carelessly discarded pile of toys? Toys need to be put away at the end of the day – as parents we need to have some down time at the end of a busy day. The best way of relaxing once the kids are in bed is to kick back in a reasonably clean and tidy room and spend some time reading, watching TV, listening to music – whatever it is that floats your boat.
However, relaxing is much harder if you’re looking at piles of toys, books, pencils, etc – all the paraphernalia of daily life with kids. Sometimes, it can be good to just forget about the kids for a couple of hours and spend some time on yourself. If you’re in a constant battle with the kids about the amount of toys hanging round the house, you’ll probably never relax. This means that it’s pretty essential to get the kids to comply with picking up their toys and putting them away for a peaceful family life.
One great way of getting the kids into the habit of putting away their toys at the end of the day is to buy a toy box (or toy bag/toy basket) for each of them. If you let them choose their own toy bag, then they’re much more likely to want to put their toys in it – after all, the pride of ownership will kick in here. If you let your kids keep toys in the living room, then why not choose some of the great colourful toy bags that you can buy nowadays? A toybag each in the living room means that the kids don’t have to traipse up and down stairs when it’s tidy up time – they just need to grab their personal toybag and chuck all the toys in. If you limit the number of toys allowed in the living room to what will fit into each child’s toybag, it’s a great way of keeping things under control (and keeping the living room looking like a living room rather than a nursery school).
You can let the kids play to their hearts’ content and then, when it’s nearly bedtime, have a Tidy Up Time. Once the toys have all been safely stashed away, you can serve a little supper (milk, fruit, biscuits, nothing too elaborate). Don’t forget that the supper is the reward (the bribe) and won’t be presented until all the toys are put away. This means that the kids should be happy enough to help with storing all their stuff safely out of sight and you’ll be left with some clear space once they’ve gone to bed.