Our New Normal [s] » Our little family's realization, that there is no normal

ESTABLISH: Clean Up Habits by making a Toy Library – DIY

I don’t know about you, but I was SICK of picking up toys all day long. To try and contain this, I created a playroom which I thought would take care of the problem. We had bins labeled, and a place for everything, and all that jazz; but the kids still could not grasp the concept of playing with one thing- putting it away- then pulling something else out. Just about every playtime would turn into World War 3 in there. Just short of chucking every toy in the rubbish, I had to come up with a plan…

So, here’s what I did. I created a TOY LIBRARY.

I bought several boxes of the jumbo Ziplock bags, and put every toy they own from the playroom, categorized them, put them into the ziplocks, labeled them, and locked them away into  a closet.

I made a little pocket check-out system. The pocket is just a clear 3-ring binder snap folder. I taped a pouch envelope to the front and labeled it “Checked Out”. I bought the colored popsicle sticks at a local craft/hobby store, and just wrote the categories of toys (what I named each ziplock bag) with a Sharpie on each stick.

All I needed to do was establish ground rules:

1. Only one bag at  a time- per kid.

2. In order to pull out another bag, the one that is checked out must be returned to a parent, to be traded in for whatever else they want.

It sounds strict, maybe. But it is my job to teach them to be organized, cleanly, and responsible. This was just what I came up with to help them succeed in this lesson. Down the line, if they show responsibility, I will let my oldest go into the closet (with permission) to trade out stuff herself- but for now- while we are establishing this new regimen- I also want her to have to come to me. Also teaching authority and privileges that can be earned.

What creative ways have you found to teach your kids to clean up?

What are your “Ground Rules”?

September 13, 2012 - 11:07 am

Karina - Freedom, this cracks me up just a little, remembering what our dorm room used to look like! I specifically remember you having to scale a pile of discarded clothes on the floor, just to get to your bed!

I’m pretty sick, myself, of having to pick up toys (and dishes, and homeschooling stuff). I might have to try your system.


October 29, 2012 - 9:51 am

freedomg12 - Karina!
I know!!! I am trying to help my kids overcome my shortcomings! My mom never taught me how to be organized or how to keep house- or any of that (as you witnessed daily). So, as I continue to struggle through childhood habits, I also try my best to equip my kids for adulthood.

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