34 answers

Toy Mess!

i was just getting frustrated about our playroom that has a train set, astronaut guys and peek a blocks and puzzle pieces and wheels all mixed together on the floor etc etc etc.......... all of these pieces of sets of toys are getting mixed together and will eventually get lost so none of the toys will be as fun because they can't find thomas the train because he's with the missing puzzle pieces and legos.......

now that the kids are sleeping i could pick up all the pieces and sort them and put them away and it would be clean for a fresh start tomorrow... but that would not solve the problem because my kids need to learn to pick up and put away toys by themselves... tomorrow night would be the same toy jumbalaya again! so i have a few questions:

what kinds of things you do to encourage your kids to put away one set of toys before playing with another?

what kind of incentives/punishments do you use to enforce toy clean up? (do you use a gunny bag, or give away toys that are left out? etc?)

do you have a clean up time where everyone puts toys away together?

any other solutions that work for you?

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

thanks for all your great ideas! yesterday i told my 4 year old about the "gunny bag" and he was totally fascinated and motivated-- he cleaned up every single toy in the whole house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! he's been awesome today too, putting away everything when he finishes playing with it. hopefully it will last... and i think it will because as soon as he forgets the gunny bag really will come eat his toys! yay!

Featured Answers

I have a 3 year old and a 4 year old boys. If they do not help clean up when requested, they go to time out. I don't make them clean up the whole thing. I help out a little to get them started and remind them to keep picking up until everything is put away. When there are like 100 pieces, I don't expect their attention span to stick that long. I help out a little (maybe I should be more strict?). If they don't help put away the toy, the next day it's not available to play with.

As they get older, like 6 years old, they can deduct where toys go and why they are taken away. I plan on putting toys left out into a large box or barrell. If I have to pick it up, then it's going "away". Anything left in the box or barrell is getting sold. Either way, I don't plan on putting away all their shoes, clothes, toys, etc for the rest of their lives. So... if they want to know where it's at then they better put it away for themselves. It works great for teenagers and husbands too! My girlfriend uses this method and it gives her piece of mind to know she hasn't coddled the situation by doing their chores and it's off her floor.

I used to have a daycare and had a similar problem. I paid attention to what was really getting played with and what was getting thrown aside. All toys played with I kept out. Anything that was pushed aside trying to find what they wanted got put up. Most things were never even missed! They went on a yard sale. When the kids got tired of the toys we did activities together but not before picking up stuff. Most kids like to help with cookie decorations, fingerpainting (even us big kids!), making cards for friends and family, going for walks even if just to the store. We even read books together. Flub and playdoh (the homemade kind) and so are rice "sand" boxes. There are many things you can do WITH kids and they really do love that much more than playing on their own with toys. TV was very limited. I didn't want kids to just watch tv and do nothing. Variety is great. Kids will always look for fun and different things to learn and occupy them. Good luck!

I have two-two year old girls. Their play room usually migrates to every other room of the house... but we put toys away together. They have one "rubbermaid" tub (a shorter one) with all of their little toys and kitchen stuff, a basket for their dress-up stuff, a toy box for the big toys and stuffed toys and a taller rubbermaid tub for the mega blocks. Then the book shelf and baby strollers etc line the rest of the room. It has been about 6 months since we did this, and all of the toys usually end up in their appropriate location and each day we start off new. Its also not very hard to find a missing toy by the way they are seperated. Before nap and bedtime daily, we put the toys away together - they aren't both always willing but its better to start early with asking them to help then never.

More Answers

Hi T.,

It's rough when they are young like this. It seems they have more toys that you could ever figure out what to do with. We are just getting to that stage with our two youngest ones. I know for me that the first thing I am going to have to do is a big sort. I am going to go through all of the toys and take out any ones that are little happy meal toys that they don't play with or toys that they have outgrown and give them to Goodwill. Then I am going to take out the ones that are broken or missing pieces and throw them away. Of what's left I am going to sort them into categories (i.e. train set, toy cars, megablocks, balls, etc.). Then I will put them in clear bins (like the giant gladware with lids), take a photo of the toys in each bin, and tape one copy to the bin and one to the lid. This way the kids know what goes in each bin. Then I will only put out maybe a third of the bins and a couple of big toys, like their zebra bouncing toy, or their riding toys or car mat. I will rotate them out every two weeks to a month that way the kids won't get bored with all of their toys or be overwhelmed with clean-up.

I am also considering making a scrapbook or catalog of pictures of their toys so that when they get bored that can "shop" in the catalog for what they would like that maybe isn't out and trade a toy they are tired of with something in the catalog.

Maybe some of these ideas would work for you.

1 mom found this helpful

We don't put toys away during the day until it's pretty crowded. I found that my sons imagination flrushes when he has multiple toys out together. Example: He builds a garage with his blocks for his trains to park in when they aren't making their rounds on the track. His construction equipment is always in the mist of building a new playground for his little people to play on.
We clean up if it gets too crowded, if we are getting ready to leave the house for a long time, or if we are going to bed. He can leave out buildings that are built and tracks that are fully assembled with cars and trains in/on them. Everything else goes away. I help him clean up. We work together because it's best that way (There's no saying it a million times, it gets done faster, and I know where the toys are going). He does a great job. Occassionally I'll find that I need to straighten up a little bit because he can't get everything put away or there are too many loose pieces; but it's more like once a week to every other week, not every day. We actually do all our household chorus this way. We both unload the dishwasher together, put clothes into the washer together, he vaccums while I straighten. Chorus are more of fun games than a problem to deal with. It's fun time we get to spend together! The house stays clean and we still have time to do all the fun stuff we want to do. :)

1 mom found this helpful

This is kind of harsh but it worked wonders.

I have 6 and 4 yr old boys. They would not pick-up their toys and I was getting sick of always picking up after them and them not listening to me. One day, I had told them to pick up there toys like 10 times with no results so I finally said if you did not get your toys picked up within 5 minutes, I am going to throw all the toys away that do not get picked up. They did not pick up so I started throwing toys away. They got up real quick and started picking up toys. I had to throw away about 10-15 toys. But the next time, I said I was going to throw toys away, they picked up real fast.

I have only had to throw toys away twice. The first time and about 6 months after the first time. I just have to say it and they pick every toy up, no complaints, no whining.

I have a 4 YO and sp. needs 7 YO..Their room is copletely trashed right after an hour of play in it. I take away pool time, screen time, everything til it's put away. Usually they get the hint and put them away, and wrere they belon, before leaving the room, but then again some "lazy days" it's a fight to the finish.
I started them out with individual plastic storage boxes with a pic. of animals on one for their toy animals, pic of a lego block o another, pic. of dolls and doll accessories, etc.. I painted it god and big and bright on the lid of each box. This helped... a LOT. Good luck.

One thing I haven't noticed anyone saying yet...

I would complain about the kids not cleaning up after themselves but my husband and I realized they were only imitating us. I can't expect my kids to do something we weren't doing either. Flylady.com has been a Godsend. She teaches everyone how to break big chores down into smaller ones so that they don't become overwhelming. Also check out TheHouseFairy.com

This is sooo frustrating. I use the bags that comforters and sheets and stuff come in that zip back up. I put toys in them that have all of the little pieces. I have posted rules around the house with consequences to the actions. The one about toys says that if you get a toy out and don't pick it up it gets taken away for a week. My kids hate that so they have started picking things up. I have a friend who does this and she puts them on the top shelf in the closet so they can still see it and it reminds them that they have to pick up the toys or they will lose them. The clear bags make it easier to see what is inside so they don't go digging around and pulling everything out to find what they are looking for. I have also labeled everything in the bedroom. The shelves have the names of what goes there and I have planned on putting pictures on them but haven't gotten there yet. My 5 year old can read, but my 3 year old can't so I thought this would help her get started. I also have the kids clean their room every night before story time.
Good luck!

my husband & i are in the same predicament! a friend told us that his wife had had enough one night and simply took a trash bag out and put all of the toys that were on the floor in the trash bag and threw everything away. that stopped their daughter from leaving her toys on the floor! it was hard, but it helped. we've told our daughter that we would throw away her toys if she leaves them all over, and it helps sometimes. we haven't been as consistent with her as we should be, but she certainly doesn't like us to tell her that her toys will be thrown away. we do help her put things away, but we always make sure she starts doing it first. we also take our time, so the majority of the work is done by her! good luck!

I have found that zip lock baggies are the best thing for puzzles and small items that go with larger toys. We also have the colored storage boxes. They are little and are on the slanted shelf.

My kids love the idea of putting things where they belong because I have a rule around my house that if they are not playing with it and it is out and if I can step on it OR if I do step on it it goes "Bye-Bye" I mean it to. I throw it away. Call me mean but I have stepped on to many barbie shoes and all the little Ben 10 toys.

They will learn just get in your own little grove of how you want the kids to pick up and let them know that rules are rules and they need to be followed.

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