If you're a parent of young children, you know how difficult it can be to get your kids to clean up after them. Tripping over a toy in the middle of the night or finding Lego pieces in the laundry isn’t fun. Which parent hasn’t struggled with toys strewn around the house after an active day of play?
It's been said that a new habit takes 21 days to establish. Use these tips and fun game to entice your children into creating the habit of putting their toys away.
Tip #1: Use Color
Children see color early in life, long before they learn the alphabet and words. Toddlers can distinguish between a DVD of Ariel and a DVD of Finding Dory by the photos, colors, and patterns on the packaging long before they read the actual text. Ask your kids to pick their favorite colors, then, look for storage containers that fit in.
Tip #2: Plastic, Wood, or Wicker
The containers can be colored plastic, wood, or even wicker baskets with colored cloth wrapped around them. Use your imagination and include your kids in the planning.
Tip #3: Add Symbols
Add easily identified symbols, especially for children displaying color blindness. Turn this into an art project by having them create the symbols with cloth, construction paper, or painted directly on wooden boxes. That way they will recognize what they made, plus, this project could keep them busy for an afternoon.
Tip #4: Seats for Storage
For small areas, buy or build cube storage and add comfortable seating on top. The colored containers go inside the cubbyholes, saving space and keeping the area neat. Cubes can also be hung on the wall, or placed under the bed if there is enough height.
Here's a DIY cube storage project for the do-it-yourself parents out there.
Next: Play the Pick Up Game
So, you’ve selected the colors, added the homemade symbols, and built the storage. Mark your calendar for the next 3 weeks, pick a time of day when the toys will find themselves back into storage, and play the "pick up" game with your kids. Find a song they love to sing, set a timer for five minutes, and get to
work play! For the first few days, it might be you doing most of the picking up. After that, make sure they are pitching in, and gradually doing all of the picking up by day 21.