If your house is like mine, toys are everywhere — even the bathroom. They multiply like rabbits!
Do you find yourself wondering (or yelling) why don’t my kids pick up their toys?!
I have a few ideas why…
It’s a new gig
The first probable reason our kids don’t pick up their toys is because we haven’t given them a chance to. We have been picking up for them their whole life. Why should they start now? Tidying up is a new idea and a new responsibility and it’s not going to happen magically.
Teaching your kids the habit of cleaning up is a process and for many of us, the work doesn’t seem worth it! Sometimes it feels easier to ignore a pile of toys than to nag about the mess until I get results.
How much clutter is yours?
The second probable reason kids aren’t cleaning up on the regular is because we, their parents, don’t pick up our stuff either! If the house has clutter on every surface, everyone gets used to living with messes.
How do we get results?
I know the answer. But unfortunately it isn’t easy.
There are 15 parenting books on my bookshelf — over there right now — telling me how important follow-through is, and how healthy boundaries make healthy children. It takes patience to teach the skill of picking up because there is a training period.
Don’t expect a child to know how to do a chore intuitively. That is crazy talk! Show them how. If they can read, write down the steps on a card. I go over other tips like this in an email series about kids and chores.
The same principles of follow-through and boundaries apply to being organized. Set a good example and be consistent. Don’t go back and re-do their work. Don’t show exasperation because they didn’t clean up perfectly.
I know it isn’t easy, people. Raising children is freakin’ hard!
Once kids get in the habit of putting things away, it’s like washing their hands. Sometimes you will have to send them back to re-do their work. But, a lot of the time they will get it on their own. Help them develop the habit of tidying up every evening, or whenever they are done with a toy.
For more ideas and specific details see this older post on organizing for kids.
Also published on Medium.