It’s the nature of most kids to be clutter bugs – they enjoy everything around them from pretty rocks to radio controlled cars and want to keep every last one. And grown-ups don’t help much because buying kid’s toys is fun for us too. But we still want to see a clean kid’s bedroom or play room, or want to navigate the living room without stubbing a toe on a toy truck or crunching tiny doll shoes under foot.
What to do? Make cleaning up part of the fun so kids happily pitch in. Pick out storage furniture just for them in bright colors and designs that show off their favorite animals or characters. You may even want to let your older child help pick out the new purchases, explaining what each item is for and how they’ll help keep things tidy at home as you shop.
Everything in its place – make sure that kid’s spaces have adequate room to put everything away and a clear organization system. A child can get frustrated with a request to put things away if it’s not clear where the items should go and they may not think to ask “But, where does it go?” Make a plan for where everything should fit, whether that’s in the closet, the dresser, in under-the-bed bins, a toy box, or even another room. Then walk through it with your child. Younger kids might need you to go through this exercise with them several times before they make all the connections.
Make picking up a habit. After a long day it’s tempting to ignore the mess and just get everybody off to bed, but that will compound the problem for another day. Get your kids into the habit of wrapping up their play fifteen minutes before bedtime or bath time so they can have toys put away. If you have arguments that start with “I’m not done with that” consider project cases or custom furniture that combine play with storage so items are off the floor and out of the way but also available to pick up where you child left off the next day.
Minimize where you can – with younger children you may be able to pack up toys that don’t see much use and rotate them back into the toy box when others break or lose the child’s interest. As kids get older you can start talking to them about the value of donating the toys they don’t use to those less fortunate and help them pick out which items to give away. You can even teach them the trick of packing things away to realize they don’t miss them to choose what to donate.