I want the space to WELCOME PLAY while remaining orderly. I do not want to move into an area where kids cannot be kids!
My main goal with children is to help them become responsible, independent adults who are confidant in their abilities. I feel that realistic expectations and attainable goals are one great way to facilitate this process. It is imperative to define and clarify these expectations before you enforce them. Children need to know what the boundaries are and to thoroughly understand your expectations. Remember to always clearly define what you would like them to do. (It’s ok if you don’t put the bin on the shelf, as long as the toys are inside an the lid is on, I’ll put it back onto the shelf for you”) Be specific with children, they will rise to the expectations you set. The more you expect the more they’ll do, the less you expect the less they’ll do! Realize that expectations will need to change as time goes on. Just remember to be clear with them.
Some rules and compromises that may work
* One bin out and about at a time – “if you want the dinosaurs you have to clean up the tea party”
* Establish and stick to consistent clean-up times- before/after dinner, before bed, or whatever works for your family –kids will come to know what is expected and eventually you will not need to remind them to do it. It is never too early to teach responsibility for one’s own possessions and environment.
* Children need to be able to create a temporary mess
ü A temporary mess is just that –temporary, and children need to know what that means, “you can leave them out till after dinner but I want them cleaned up before bed” once they are done playing with it –away it goes
* Establish a system where toys can stay out beyond a temporary mess
Examples of some systems
* Sanity savers can be used for items left randomly about the house.
Decide when they will be emptied based on what works for your household. Be it every night before bed, once they are full, or before any screen time. Once a system for emptying them has been decided, stick to it or they’ll never get emptied and will become clutter themselves.
* Every now and then help them clean up!! Think of how great it feels to have someone spontaneously help you with one of you chores!
* Some toys can NEVER be put away and I get that! A favorite toy that gets a lot of play? Store these items precisely where they will be played with, so they are always “put-away” without ever having to be “cleaned up”.
* Adults consistently cleaning up after children
If I clean it up because you didn’t…I keep it! They can “earn it back” later, or choose it out of a treat bin another day; real "meanies" can donate items to Goodwill.