I'm about ready to give away all my kids' toys - please help! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 10:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I seriously need some help with "clean up" discipline. Here's some background: We live in a pretty small house, and we turned the family room into a play room with all the kids' toys. I have all the toys organized in bins on shelves, a place for everything. Through out the day, DD1 (age 5) and DD2 (age 2) have a blast playing together. They are very creative and create all kinds of make believe worlds, making a huge mess in the process, but keeping themselves quite entertained while I get housework done.

The problem is when it's time to clean up. I usually ask them to clean up before we switch to a new activity (leaving the house, playing in the backyard, watching a video, eating dinner, etc.) I think they're too young to do it without some direction, so I help by giving them specific tasks, "DD1, you can put the animals in the stuffed animal bin. DD2, put the play food in the kitchen." I also give choices, "Do you want to clean up the dolls or the legos?" DD1 just melts down. She lays on the ground, keeps playing, starts whining, etc. I spend the entire time nagging, threatening, and the other day I broke down crying. I end up doing most of the cleaning and I'm tired of it (I'm also 25 weeks pregnant and very hormonal, so that doesn't help matters either).

I hate how I'm feeling. I feel like DD1 is a spoiled brat and it's all my fault because I've allowed all these toys in our home. They just have so much stuff. A part of me just wants to get rid of it all so I don't have to deal. I'm writing this because today I completely lost it with her and threatened to give all her toys to someone who would appreciate them and I called her a brat I felt so bad, I went and hid in the office, bawling my eyes out while my DH took them out in the backyard.

Any suggestions???
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#2 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 11:00 PM
 
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Have you tried making a game out of it? You can set a timer and challenge her to pick up as much as she can in five minutes.

I have told my four-year-old son that "I will be glad to keep (or throw away) all the toys I pick up." I threw away one truck (not a favorite) and that is all I have had to do.

I also will use his desires. "Mom, may I have (watch, do...)?" "Sure, as soon as the toys are put away."

Lastly, I find it helpful to minimize the number of toys available to him at any given time. If there are too many toys, it overwhelms him when it is time to tidy. In that event, I offer to help him and sometimes, that is all it takes to get him moving. HTH
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#3 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 11:08 PM
 
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Maybe pack up half the toys in each bin and put them in an out of the way place. This way, even if they dump out all the kitchen toys AND all the stuffed animals, it won't be as many toys total.

I'd also suggest keeping the legos out of reach, and taking them down to play with only when all other toys are already cleaned up- those are a messy toy with lots of pieces, and reducing the number of legos availalbe to play with isnt' as practical as it is with other toys. You can play house with 3 dolls instead of 20, but you can't build complex structures without enough lego bricks.

I remember packing away my kids' toys and feeling guilty about it, only to realize that they liked it better this way too. They could actually find the toys they wanted to play with, cleanup was faster and easier for them, and they were calmer because I was calmer! They definitely benefitted more from a calm mommy than from the extra toys.

I would never give away kids' toys without storing them in an out of the way part of the house for a while, so they could reclaim any special toys they remembered about in the next few months. Of any bag of toys I packed up, 90% could be given away after 4-6 months, but I'm glad I kept them around for that other 10%!!!

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#4 of 21 Old 08-08-2010, 11:15 PM
 
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I give my older son a choice: He can help clean up and we will put the toys away where they belong or I can clean up alone and the toys go into the garage (toy purgatory) for a while.

We also play hungry toy box where I lift the toy box lid up and down and make it talk like Cookie Monster. "Me want grey lego!" "Mmmmm... nom nom nom!"
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#5 of 21 Old 08-09-2010, 12:45 AM
 
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We use a mix of strategies. Maybe one of these will work?

• Saying mid-day if things were getting out of hand "Let's clean up the toys so we can have a picnic lunch on the LR floor/go for a walk/pull out a puzzle?"

• Ruthlessly decluttering toys to just the ones they play with, getting rid of the ones they toss on the floor to get to the ones they want to play with.

• If they can't or won't clean up their toys (with help) at the end of the day, then they all get swept up into a laundry basket and put away for one day.

• I made their toy storage really simple and age appropriate. My 3 yr old has a single small basket for all the toys in her room, a shelf for books, a set of hooks for dress up clothes and a shelf for puzzles. My almost-5 yr old has 6 drawers under his bed for legos, action figures, cars, tinker toys, etc and then two book shelves. They share a set of bins with things like doctors kit, Mr. Potato head, blocks, etc. The LR has a single coffee table/toy chest with large toys (cookie tray with magnet letters, ribbon ring, floor puzzle, etc). It is super easy to scoop up all the toys into the toy box, and I don't make a big deal if play food is supposed to go to the kitchen, but ends up in the toy box. Good enough.

• I sort, they put away. Sorting still seems challenging, especially for DS, so I sort. "Here are all the tinker toys; quick, go put them in the bin, and see if you can do it before I count to 5."

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#6 of 21 Old 08-09-2010, 12:17 PM
 
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a five min clean up time warning works well for little ones, they have a hard time with transitions, so this gives them time to finish what they are doing and mentally prepare for the next activity, helps to avoid meltdowns. Also for organizing, little pictures with the word labeled on bins/shelves for where the toys go will help them understand where the toys "homes" are so that they can become more independent with clean up (eventually, once a good routine is established)

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#7 of 21 Old 08-10-2010, 06:33 AM
 
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my dd is a bit younger so it usually works if i phrase it like i am going to help her clean things up kwim?

also do not feel bad about putting stuff up for awhile. we just moved and had stuff in storage for about a month, i brought all their toys in and they thought everything was new!!

mama to one '07 and one '09
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#8 of 21 Old 08-10-2010, 08:27 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
I'd also suggest keeping the legos out of reach, and taking them down to play with only when all other toys are already cleaned up- those are a messy toy with lots of pieces, and reducing the number of legos availalbe to play with isnt' as practical as it is with other toys. You can play house with 3 dolls instead of 20, but you can't build complex structures without enough lego bricks.

I've recently put away items like this and it has helped greatly. We put a lock on the closet door in the playroom and I now lock up many of the toys (legos, marble run, jigsaw puzzles, some board games, etc.) It's limited their creative play a little - e.g. They used to build marble runs mixed in/around the train, combine board game pieces to make their own game, etc. But it's also kept the pieces together and not all over the playroom mixed with everything else; which became overwhelming for five-year-olds to clean up. They can request to play with these items but must have a clean area prior to playing and put them away when finished. They still have enough available to make a mess, but it is easier for them to clean up.

I’ve recently discussed this with my sister who seemed to have a better method for clean-up...or cleaner children! It sounds like your children are like mine and play for extended periods unattended - which I think is great but it also allows for destruction in a relatively quick time frame. My sister’s children usually want her involvement in their play and she is happy to join in – which allows for prompted clean up between activities. So I look at it as a bit of a trade off...independent play with more of a mess vs. parent involvement in the play and more organization. Both have their positives/negatives. A bit OT but for me, I realized while trying to fix our toy mess issue that I probably should get a little more involved in their play. They play together so well I didn’t realize how little I engage. But when I do get involved, they love it so I am trying to join in more often.
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#9 of 21 Old 08-10-2010, 11:14 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post

I'd also suggest keeping the legos out of reach, and taking them down to play with only when all other toys are already cleaned up- those are a messy toy with lots of pieces, and reducing the number of legos availalbe to play with isnt' as practical as it is with other toys. You can play house with 3 dolls instead of 20, but you can't build complex structures without enough lego bricks.
Might not be a bad idea to start this as routine anyway since you are preggers and a new little baby sticking everything in his mouth will be crawling around soon! Just to help manage their use a little.

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#10 of 21 Old 08-10-2010, 11:28 AM
 
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my kiddo is only about 17 months old, but I find it is much easier to get her to clean up (or do anything really) if I first tell her that is what we are going to do (ex: after playing outside 'are you thirsty? lets go inside and get some water! would you like that?' usually she is all yay water! but if I just tell her its time to go inside and then tell her about the water after that, she'll melt down and resist) and then make a game of it (ex: how fast can you get to the door?! ruuuuun!!! aaaah!!! tons of laughter so she can't even try to argue after agreeing to the water anyway)

it seems to work for everything most of the time.. cleaning up toys, eating, turning off caillou, getting into the car, leaving the library, going to bed. Routine, telling her what is ABOUT to happen, and making it a game.
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#11 of 21 Old 08-10-2010, 01:00 PM
 
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#12 of 21 Old 08-11-2010, 04:47 PM
 
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I would look at what they're actually using. About a year ago, I hit this wall with toys. It just felt like they were EVERYWHERE. After watching for a couple of weeks, DH & I realized that a lot of the toys we cleaned up often weren't getting used at all. They were being pulled down either for the joy of taking things off the shelf or because they were in the way of things DC wanted. We made an initial run through the toys and sort of "skimmed off" what we thought they weren't using, and they never minded at all. We've now cut toys down significantly, and we've found that they are much happier and things are cleaner.

It's us: DH , DS ; DD ; and me . Also there's the . And the 3 . I . Oh, and .
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#13 of 21 Old 08-11-2010, 05:42 PM
 
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Along with seriously decluttering toys and rotating them, so not all toys are out all the time (my kids know they can "trade" for toys that are stored in the attic occasionally), I let my husband be in charge of playroom clean-up with the kids when he gets home from work (most of the time -- unless we're having company over). It makes him less crazy than it does me, and he's made a game out of it with them.
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#14 of 21 Old 08-11-2010, 06:15 PM
 
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I second making a game of it, the other day I was amazed how well this can work. My DD and nephew had thrown all the balls out of the little ball pit my MIL has at her house, it has like a 100 balls, so at first it looked totally futile, then I started saying "let's see how many RED balls we can pick up" or let's pick up 4 BLUE balls-amazingly it worked like a charm. They are 4 and 3, so it was fun all of the sudden, not tedious.

Me Wife to T (14 years)Mama to Princess(4) and Monster Boy(my 1 year old ):
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#15 of 21 Old 08-12-2010, 03:09 AM
 
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This is the part of "Simplicity Parenting" that I actually have done. (it's this great book, Kim John Payne, anybody who hasn't read it should...anyway)

back to the original topic...what was recommended in the book...and what I did.

Make a pile out of *ALL* the toys. Yes, *ALL*

Get rid of anything that is broken or missing pieces. If you honestly think you might fix it, store it somewhere other than your child's current available toy collection.

Get rid of anything that is a flashing, noisy, limited-use toy. A cartoon character doll. Anything of that nature that is very limited use. (unless it is actually an *absolute favorite loved toy* If it's something that came from somebody and you want it around for them to see it being used, keep it somewhere where you can bring it out when that person might be around.)

Now, out of what's left, find a place that toys can be stored and 'traded for'. Put some things that are sometimes, but not *always* used here. Switch things up. (Also do this for books--this particular book recommends having only 5-6 books available per child on a shelf in their reach, with the rest put away to be rotated through. I actually did this and *love* it--I've seen all 3 kids really increase their requests to read and my oldest actually choosing to sit and read again now that the available collection has been narrowed to about a quarter of what it used to be. I used to have the same problem people mentioned with toys with books--they'd get thrown all over and not really read.)


Now--things I specifically remember being recommended to stay or even *added* if absent--

Dress-up clothes (a reasonable number, of course. this is another item I think could rotate very easily.)

Drawing supplies and paper, and a place to use them. (my kids have only washable crayons, erasable colored pencils, paper, and a couple coloring books I found buried available to them for free-range use. They're 5.5, 3.5, 21 mos.)

fabric, blankets, etc. and clothespins...for them to make forts, capes, etc. whatever they come up with. (mine have a few blankets for this.)

And the absolute "stay" for toys--any particular favorites or "loveys", baby dolls (not characters or anything just a baby), blocks, all the classic preschool classroom toys that are fairly open-ended.

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#16 of 21 Old 08-12-2010, 01:14 PM
 
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One of the added benefits of having fewer toys is that your kids play outside more... and they enjoy the variety of toys they encounter at other friends' houses much more as well.

They don't need some of everything... just some toys.

Definitely think about asking family members to give things other than toys as birthday and Christmas presents. (Help paying for extra activities and gift cards for ice cream are two that really worked for me...) That reduces the number of toys entering your house and it reduces the battles about who the toy belongs to.

At times when we have really been stuck between a rock and a hard place, I have used a form of "toy purgatory". If the kids didn't want to pick up the toys, I picked them up. To release the toy from purgatory costs 25 cents. It was a desperate measure, I admit, but better than threats, nagging and tears that happened before.
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#17 of 21 Old 08-13-2010, 01:30 AM
 
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Two other thoughts--one person on here said that they don't duplicate toys that the child has access to at school/daycare every day. That helped me think. (one kid in school so far, but it did help)

We have also done things like made a kitchen stove out of a cardboard box, when it gets destroyed, we toss it. Saves on buying stuff like a large, bulky kitchen set. And you have the creative fun of making it yourself.

I also have had my mom pay for our membership to the zoo--great learning opportunity, family outings, memories, they LOVE feeding the animals...and it PAYS FOR ITSELF with our family in about 2 visits. AND like someone else said, you don't have the toys, the fights over whose it is....love it.

lovin DH since 1/04, best mom for my 3 boys 10/04, 11/08, 11/10 one girlie (1/07), one 13 wk (10/13) and 5/15 just your average multigenerational living family!!
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#18 of 21 Old 08-13-2010, 03:01 AM
 
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Haven't had a chance to read all the replies, but I feel for you. We have a living room and a family room and honestly we never spent much time in either. So we decided to turn the entire living room into a play room. We also have 2 kid bedrooms with smaller toys like Polly Pockets, Littlest Pet Shops, Barbies and all their 340958349 accessories, etc. I don't even wanna have to deal with that in the main area of the house that every guest would see.

So, here is what seems to help me not lose it (I have broke down crying and I'm not even pregnant! LOL!):

*Toys in a room *STAY* in that room. Does it always work that way? No. But I usually notice when I see a basket of Polly Pockets being carried out of a bedroom. Oh, no way. Back it goes. Polly's (grrr..) get played with in the bedroom only.

*Our cleaning person comes on Friday. So, I basically ignore the toy areas until Thursday night when I go through and help them put everything away. I tried to do this every night, but I seriously was having panic attacks over the mess. It was stressing me and my entire family out, so I just figure I can tidy up a *little* during the week and on Thursday is the big clean We have very specific areas in our house where things belong (it's the Montessori Mom in me! LOL!), so they know lego's go in one basket, Little People in another basket, dollhouse stuff has an area, play kitchen has it's area, dolls have their own chest and I bought a ton of Ikea nylon zip containers that house things like the barbie dolls, and other misc. stuff. They fit in the Expedit shelf perfectly.

*I went through and did a huge purge. And I'm not done. I have a huge love for the FP LIttle People and noticed my kids never played with them. Probably because we had about 500 people! I put some in a container in the garage and let them pick about 20 of them. Now they are being played with daily!

*My kids are 5, 4, and 3, so why do I still have the wooden blocks out? The Ikea stacker ring? I have no idea. I like 'em and they do play with them, so I feel like it's ok to have them out. But the mess makes me CRAZY! I will probably put those away soon.

*I always try to keep my kitchen really clean because I feel that when my kitchen and bedroom is clean the rest of the house can be a little messy.

Bestjob, I love the toy purgatory idea! I have heard a friend call hers a Saturday box and anything not picked up they do not get back until Saturday (and if it happens on a Thurs or Fri she makes them wait til the following Sat).

Good luck, OP!! You will get there!

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#19 of 21 Old 08-13-2010, 03:23 AM
 
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Good suggestions all. But also go get the book, The Little Red Hen and read it to them all the time. I'll sigh, and say, 'nobody's going to help me? you mean I am the little red hen?' and then 75% of the time my 4 year old will say, 'you are not the little red hen mama, what do you need me to do?' My 7 year old is starting to see through the ploy, but it often motivates her nonetheless.
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#20 of 21 Old 08-17-2010, 10:31 AM
 
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Drastically reduce the toys!

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#21 of 21 Old 08-17-2010, 10:59 AM
 
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DD is five and she melts down when asked to clean up, too. It is probably 90% me and 10% her effort at this point. I try to give very specific tasks like putting all of the Polly's back into their basket. And I have to do a crazy amount of encouraging "You can do it! You are doing great!"

It feels ridiculous, but maybe she really is worried about putting things away "wrong"--I don't know why. Or maybe she just likes the attention.
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