. Toys’ Pickup Time

I’m in a lot of homes and most homes I visit are in some state of messiness. Rightfully so, they should be full of toys and projects when children are home during the summer, and rightfully so, they should be messy when you are in the middle of a major remodel or other significant venture. And, of course, they will be messy when you have been diverted by illness or accident.

However, during normal routines more families will find a continuum of order if there was a pickup time every day so the house moves back from chaos towards control. And in some homes, once is not enough. For example, I encourage young families to have this pickup time more frequently: once before lunch, again before dinner, and lastly before bedtime. Could your home use such pick up attention?

You can set up a challenge if you want. “Who can pick up and put away the most things in the next ten minutes?” you might ask. “They will earn a straw in their drink tonight.”

“Anyone willing to contribute and stay with the cleanup for the full ten minutes,” you can add, “also gets a serving of dessert.”

Teach young children to pick up as a part of their normal routine, even if you end up doing most of the picking up and they do most of the wandering around the room. Talk about picking up, point out toys for them to give to you to put away, and encourage them to put some of the toys away themselves. Incorporate this routine into your pre-meal and pre-bedtime to do list. Initially, especially when this is a new part of your routine, you will have to be there, participate and supervise. Later your children will know what it means to pickup and can proceed on their own, knowing that meals won’t be served until the toy room is neat again.

And yes, Dad and Mom, should be part of the pick up team.

“Dad says he will do the front room and hall. I will do the back hall and bathrooms. Everyone is in charge of their own bedroom. Marsha, your room is the family room. Mike, the kitchen. Morgan, the laundry room and back porch. Let’s see if we can get this house back in order before dinner is ready in the next fifteen minutes.”

My friends, summer doesn’t mean slothfulness. An orderly home is a happier home. Let the messes happen, but don’t let them move in. Teach your family members to pick up over and over again until a pickup routine moves to the background of their lives. It happens because that is what your family does.

Some of the nicest words I ever heard were, “Better clean up the toys before we go out into the kitchen or Mom will just send us back to do the job before we get to eat.”

Find more helpful ideas in The Children You Want with the Kids You Have.

Photo from sxc.hu. Used with permission.


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