Real Life: Ten Top Tips For Tidying Up
With five and seven year old boys, I, Rachel, now have a several years experience under my belt regarding tidying up toy mountains and keeping Lego contained. Admittedly, they're quite tidy children. They take after me. However, they also spent a few years living in Switzerland, a country that excels at being organised, so perhaps I can't take all the credit.
Call round without notice and while you'll most likely be greeted by colouring books, play doh and a several Star Wars characters mid-battle, for the most part, we're only ten minutes away from having a tidy house. I might be the instigator of our tidy up sessions but the boys really do help. Here's how I make it easy for them to be involved with minimal grumbling.
A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING AND EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE
This has been one of my favourite phrases for years. If you want a neat and tidy home then, quite rightly, everything has to have a place. It might not reside in that particular place at all times but if it doesn't have a proper home, then how will your children know where to put it?
GROUP RELATABLE THINGS TOGETHER
Paper in one room, colouring pens in another, glue tucked away in a drawer, and stickers on a shelf. That's never going to work if you want your children to tidy up after themselves. Group relatable items together to make it easy for them. Have a craft corner, or a dress up box, or a dedicated shelf for dolls and accessories. That way, there's one place to get things from and one place to put them away.
Get your label makers at the ready. Or a felt tip pen. Or even a piece of chalk as GLTC's stacking toy boxes and carry caddies come with handy blackboard labels to help every one know what's stored inside them ... or where things should be tidied away.
EASILY ACCESSIBLE STORAGE
Good storage is essential for a tidy home. Easily accessible storage is even better if you want your children to help with the tidying up. Think baskets placed on lower shelves, toy carts for wheeling around to pick up toys, and toy boxes with easy lift up lids and safety hinges.
A 'STUFF' BASKET
For the pesky little toys that sneak in to the house, mainly from children's parties, and take up temporary residence, I recommend a 'stuff' basket. A basket for unnecessary toys that you don't want to find a permanent home for and that you'll sneak in to the recycling/bin/charity shop pile as soon as you're able - I've found that taking away a small handful at a time is about the right amount for children not to notice that they're going missing.
Before you worry that my house might be a little spares and somewhat child-unfriendly, believe me, I'm not toy averse. The boys have a shelf in the kitchen to pop their best Lego constructions on, we clip paintings to the walls, magazine racks are filled with Ninjago comics as well as Ideal Home, and a toy picnic basket is as welcome in the conservatory as the real thing. Tidy can still equal homely.
STORE AWAY FOR A WHILE
Not all toys are played with all the time. Or least in my house where the boys gravitate towards the same things. We seem to have a process whereby the less-liked toys make their way from toy baskets to under the bed to out of the door. When I notice this happening, I tend to box them up and store them away for a while to see if their absence suddenly promotes them to the position of 'best toy ever'. It rarely does.
ONE IN, ONE OUT
A simple one in, one out policy makes tidying up so much easier as you tend to avoid clutter from the get go. It also encourages children to think about whether they really need another toy or simply just want one. There is one thing standing in the way of you successfully adopting this methodology, though ... grandparents!
MAKE IT ROUTINE
This is a top tip that I learnt from the children's nursery in Switzerland. Make the tidying up part of the routine. Get the craft paraphernalia out, paint the painting, put everything away. Get a board game out, play the board game, put the board game away. Read a book, put it back on the shelf. You get the idea. The putting away slowly becomes as routine as the getting the things off the shelf or out of a basket. Yes, I do occasionally have to remind the boys that they should put things away but they only semi-begrudgingly hop to it.
REWARD AND RECOGNITION
Children love to be rewarded for being helpful and even though they most likely made the majority of the mess in the first place, a little thank you, pat on the back, and smiley face on a reward chart goes a long way. Gold stars for little ones who offer to dust and vacuum their own rooms, too!
Take a look at all of GLTC's ingenious storage solutions to help you make the most of your space.
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