it is an everyday battle at our house. we live in a small house with a 4.5yo, 2.5yo, and 1yo. the kids share a bed room where they keep all their toys. i share their closet so have to go in there at least twice a day for my own needs as well as several other times to play and read with the kids. every night i try and get them to pick up their stuff form around the house (kitchen, living room, bath room), usually it gets done. the older two, mostly just the oldest, go around collecting everything and throwing it all on the floor of their room, which is already covered. i am a neat/organized person by nature, as a child i was too, "a place for everything everything in it's place". it drives me crazy that their room can get trashed in a day and then when i ask them to pick up they "don't want to" or "it's too much". i usually do help once they get started but it gets annoying that i am the one cleaning up the majority of their mess day after day. they don't have a lot of toys, just lots of parts (blocks, cars/trucks/puzzles, etc.) that all get thrown around the room. i am trying to have patience about it and letting go of the need for there to always be order, but the struggle to get them to pick up when asked is so frustrating.
so what do you do? any suggestions or ideas for us to try?
Apparently doing it rong and ruining it for everyone, but I don't give a crap anymore.
My son is 8 and this had been a huge problem....what solved it was when I finally was able to go out and buy enough bins for all the toys, and labeled them. That is, there is an easy-to-understand place for everything, so he's not overwhelmed. And our living room is also staying pretty decent looking....I am able to say hey, can you take care of those toys, it's getting really cluttered in there. And he does. This is a recent development.
Another thing is that when he wants to watch a tape or DVD in the morning, he can do so AFTER he's done his morning duties, which are minimal: brush teeth, go in his room and put away three toys (or if they're all away, he puts away some from the living room area), and complete his lessons (meager little exercises that they are!). It works for him. Sometimes he will ask if he can watch a tape, and I absentmindedly say Yes, he will say "but I didn't put away 3 things yet," and then does so. I think it's because picking up toys is now part of "the routine."
But absolutely, the kids do need bins to put the toys in; I really do think that feeling overwhelmed is a big part of the problem. Once I bought all those bins, and I organized all his toys into them and showed him where everything went (and I got rid of a lot of stuff up into the attic when he was not looking; stuff he hadn't looked at in AGES and would not likely miss)....he was suddenly quite able to maintain it, and has done so for over a week, and has been proud of it.
having everything have it's place make a big difference for us. once we organized the play room with a place for everything it really made a difference.
also i try and make it fun. have a race to who can pick up the most or the fastest
In addition to having easy obvious places for things, like a block bin, a car bin, etc, you could maybe weed out some of the less beloved toys. Pay attention to how your kids play with them. Do they prefer some cars to others but take them all out because they are there? Do they use all the blocks when they play or do they all get dumped so that a few can be used? Can a few things from each category be packed away or donated? Things like puzzles can be kept up high so they only get taken out on request and one at a time.
You could also try rotating toys, pack some up and put them out of the way. Then pull them back out in a month and pack different ones away (the favorite toys stay out, though).
My goal with toys when ds was younger was to have few enough that they wouldn't drive me crazy if they were all out. Easier with one kid, I know!
What about having toy corners or stations throughout the house? One area for vehicles, another for books and puzzles, crafts and such in the kitchen, etc. Then, everything isn't getting thrown into their room and cleaning is broken down into smaller areas. We never kept toys in the bedroom, here, until ds was older and wanted to keep more precious items out of the fray.
I tossed most of the stuff that had lots of pieces but weren't really getting played with, like Legos. The kids never used them to actually build things yet I was finding them strewn all over the floor all the time. For them the dumping was the fun part. But since they were willing to dump but not to pick up.... the Legos have left the building!! :) I did keep about half of the medium size ones because my youngest showed an interest in them.
I also have a problem with leaving games at their level. They will open them up, take the pieces out, and the pieces get sucked into a whirling vortex and are never seen again. Of course then we can't play the games. We are getting ready to move and when we do I am going to designate a closet for the games and put them up high enough that the kids have to ask me to get one down. They will then be able to take out one game at a time and must return it with all of the pieces before they play another one. My DH has said that he doesn't like the idea of kids having to ask for games and stuff before they can play with them, but he's not the one dealing with the mess! I have the feeling that the movies and such will also be going in with the games because my 3 yo (and sometimes the 6 yo) like to take them out and leave them laying everywhere, which has resulted in broken discs.
I would say:
1) Get rid of anything they dump out but don't actually play with
2) Put up anything (like movies or games) that you want to keep but don't want them randomly leaving on the floor
3) For the rest of it get some kind of organizer and put one type of toy in a specific place. You could even put pictures on the bins so that it is easy to see what goes in which bin. We have one kind of like this: http://www.amazon.com/Tot-Tutors-Organizer-Primary-Colors/dp/accessories/B000067PTO and then a little 3 drawer rolling cart which can be rolled around to pick up things.
Yeah that to both of those. We have a playroom but it used to drive me insane. I'd declutter toys all the time but there was always so much. I finally majorly decluttered them and everything is super organized now and everything has a home, so it's much easier for the boys to pick things up. And they don't get to go on to something else until whatever they've played with is put away.