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Tricks of the Trade.... How do you.....?

Get your kids to pick up after themselves???? Maybe this question has already been asked, but we are seriously struggling with the masses of toys around our house. I thought that having a bigger home (when I say bigger, I mean bigger than my 900 sq. foot apt. of 3 years) with a basement would keep all the toys and mess a little more out of the way. However, if I had a dollar for every time I've stepped on a little toy and wanted to throw it away, I'd be a rich woman. We just have toys everywhere and I've tried and tried to get my 4 year old to pick up after himself. He refuses to do so, even when I take toys away, or THROW them away, which I've done, several times. Now when I ask him to pick up he just says "It's okay mom, you can just throw it away." I know he loves his toys, but I want him to know he has to pick them up when he's done. Our basement looks like a tornado came through and emptied every box of toys we own. When it comes to cleaning the basement, he'll help, only if my hubby or me are doing it with him. Which is fine to a point, but he's the one who made the mess so I feel like he should be cleaning it up.

What do I do?..... hire a maid? throw out all the toys? be the mean mom who only lets him play with ONE thing at a time? no allow the toys upstairs? give him some sort of reward for cleaning up the toys? I HAVE NO IDEA.


Bridget said...

Sorry that I put another trick of the trade question right on top of yours - it wasn't showing up when I posted. But, we struggle with this one too and the only thing I can do to keep my sanity is have two "clean-up" times a day. And, since we're still in the tiny apartment mode, I know that it's a ton easier than a house, but before quiet time I just say, check to see if there is anything in the living room you want to keep and then they usually "clean" up their stuff (aka throw it into their rooms). But, then I don't have to look at a mess during quiet time. And, then before bed we make them clean up their rooms and the living room. It has been few and far between when they do it by themselves, which is very frustrating, but it goes by pretty quickly when they know that it's coming every night. I'd love to hear other's ideas because it's something we need to improve too!

Jill said...

I so feel your pain (especially the pain of stepping on those little things. In my apt it is legos!) Anthony is pretty good but Audrey refuses. I actually am a mean mom and I do the following: I make her sit on the stairs until she is ready to clean up, I don't let her participate in whatever activity comes after (lunch, dinner) until she cleans up. It doesn't usually take long. She just wants to be the one to decide when to do it. With Anthony taking legos away works. He has to clean them up when I ask and if he doesn't he still has to do it before the next activity AND he doesn't get to play with them for the rest of the day (if it is morning) or for the next day (if it is evening). I know that my sister throws toys away if she finds them out but her kids are older. And I can only imagine this working with toys that will be missed. Like, I don't think it work matter to Anthony if I threw away a handful of his legos. Good luck! Oh, I also don't let the toys come in the kitchen or upstairs. Sheesh! I am a drill sergeant!

Chalece said...

If taking the toys away or throwing them away doesn't do anything for your child, maybe think of something that they do love (food, activity, going outside to play maybe?) and take that privilege away until they can clean up. I know sometimes this is just as much a punishment for the mom as it is for the child though.
My daughter is usually pretty good at cleaning up, we sing the barney clean-up song over and over until everything is picked up.
I've tried taking toys away, but she just forgets about them anyway. Good luck!

Anna said...

This is tough! My 4 year old was always given the option wether she wanted to clean them up or if she wanted me too, she knows that if I clean them up she'll never see them again. At first she didn't care she said "okay, throw them away and then'll we'll just buy new sometime" I explained to her that once they are gone they are gone. And Santa only bring toys to people who take good care of their toys and he's always watching. =) it worked thats all I had to tell her. Somedays when she's hungry, I have her pick up her toys while I get the snack ready and its a race, well a race on her part and I go really slow. ha, that works too. We also play some upbeat music and try to do it in 1 or 2 songs. We had a play room and she would get really stressed out having to clean it every day so I had her clean it every other day, that really helped.

Shalee said...

This is not an easy task! If it ever gets done it is almost always because I get down and help them clean up. We like to do it to music and make a game of it as much as possible. When there are toys out of the playroom I put them in a pile for each of my kids and they are responsible for putting that pile away. They do this easily and I think it is because it doesn't feel as overwhelming for them.

I'm also a bad mom because I have them terrified that the vacuum will eat them up so whenever I need to vacuum they race around and quickly clean up their toys. I don't know that fear is the best source of motivation but at least it gets done!!

Rachel said...

My cousin Jana says that you have to clean up with them, and expect to do a decreasing percentage of the work as they get older. The percentage is about equal to the age of the child - expect a 2 year old to do about 20 % of the clean-up, a 3 year old 30% and so forth. She has seven children and a clean house. They do still need reminding, but the older children do indeed pick up most of their stuff without being asked.
My personal solution is to only have about cardboard box worth of toys available. That is all I want to pick up. The rest of the toys are stashed in my closet, and periodically we trade out toys. I do throw out little toys that I step on. I HATE stepping on little toys, and all my kids know it. We don't have many little toys left. :)
Also (this is getting long!) different kids have different motivations. One child will clean enthusiastically for computer time. Another needs me right next to her, and being sent out of the room if she is not helping is effective.