Did you know a normal 10-year-old owns about 238 toys; however, only plays with about twelve each day. That is only 5% of their toys!
What?! I know! If your child only had twelve toys, play room clean up would be a snap.
But most children do not have just twelve toys and thus playroom and bedroom clean up, where toys are concerned, usually takes a long time or is just never done or completed due to the overwhelming nature of the task.
So how do you make playroom clean up easier?
Lazy organizing is not you or your child being lazy. It is thinking about making organizing and putting toys away as easy as possible. Basically, the path of least resistance for putting toys away.
So think about making it easier to put away than to get out. For example, instead of having books lined up on a bookshelf, have them in a bin. This way they can be dumped out (harder to find) and easily tossed back in the bin (easier to put away).
The same thing applies with lids on baskets or boxes. If the lid is an added step in putting things away, take the lid off! A great example of this is dirty laundry piling up on top of a laundry basket with a lid. Opening the lid was just one more step and neglected, so just take it off and make it easier.
From Where They’re Standing
Make putting toys away accessible for little humans - put things in their line of sight and within arms reach.
Try making the bins or baskets are at a height for the children. This includes clothing rods. There are extenders that will lower the rod or create a second lower rod, so this could be great for empowering your child to put their clothes away.
Also make sure the bins and baskets are easy for the children to lift, carry, open, and close. If it is difficult or complex, the child will grow frustrated and just not finish the task.
Make It Fun
The best trick for easy playroom clean up is to make the toy organizing process fun, like making it a game. You could have children compete on who can pick the fastest, then let the winner pick a movie, dinner meal, or activity.
You could also have a matching game. Make photo labels for bins and boxes and have children put the toy in the right bin. Again, reward their achievement and effort.
Another way to make clean up fun is give the children ownership of the items and process. Let them pick out the bins for their play space, if they like something or if it is an appealing color, they might be more willing to engage with the item.
This is huge. You as a parent or guardian need to model the organized behavior for children. So think about putting items away as a life habit everyone in the house does.
You can even have a “household maintenance” hour where one person cooks, another takes care of pets, another does laundry, another picks up toys, etc. Tailor it to your household and orient it around every member doing something to contribute to the betterment of the home.
You can also model behavior by putting away electronics, paper, and clothes at end of the day, so your child will see that everyone “picks up” at the end of the day. They might even want to help, so let them (when appropriate)!
Rule of Twelve
You could try to radically downsize your child(ren)’s toy collection to twelve items. The amount of space freed up would make pick up time super easy because every item would have an easily identifiable home.
If the idea of doing this is terrifying, think about a trial run. Stash the extra toys in a closet or attic and see how the twelve toys only rule goes.
You might see some interesting outcomes – imagination, creativity, valuing of toys, responsibility with toys.
INTERESTING NOTE: A recent mom blogger stated that doing this kept her children occupied for longer since they were not so overwhelmed by choice, which is also echoed by the British toy company who commissioned the research study on toy usage. Too many choices is overwhelming!
Along similar lines, the twelve-toy rule could be a rule of each child has only twelve toys out at a time and the rest are stored in a type of toy library. A child gets to “check out” twelve toys and when a child is finished playing or wants something different, they can “check in” the toy(s). This teaches responsibility and also lets some toys be new and fresh even if they were played with five months ago!
To make this work, you could have a picture book of toys the child can pick from or have a bin they can rummage through to find what is appealing.
Overall, playroom clean up doesn’t have to be a unicorn – lovely, much wanted, but rarely seen and maybe nonexistent! Make it work with your kiddo and lifestyle and see how playroom clean up changes!
Sources Cited here.
About the Author
Suzanne Holsomback, owner and lead organizer for Suzanne Holsomback, LLC, is an Austin, Texas based holistic, professional organizer. She started organizing professionally in February 2014 & works individually with clients to get organized and manage their time better, so they can rest and enjoy the important things in life!
Suzanne's background includes working for the Girl Scouts and the Oxford University Student Union as well as George W. Truett Theological Seminary. She holds a Bachelor of Art in Religion from Baylor University, a Master of Divinity from George W. Truett Seminary, and a Master of Philosophy in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford.