May parents who have never walked barefoot on a pointed Lego by going to a sick child’s bedside at night throw the first stone at me! Same for those who go out in all weathers “tidy your room!”. Let’s simplify the lives of our children a little and find our zen.
Starting with some basic principles.
Principle No. 1: your kids know how to tidy, right from kindergarten age
But yes. At school, they tidy. Ask the teacher. So tidying is not a task that is left to adults, who already make enough effort in looking after their own business, and bathing, feeding and entertaining their family.
Principle No. 2: if it’s not fun, no one will play
You know your kids: always ready to play, to run a race, to believe in the fantastic. Take advantage of it. They have the right to have fun while tidying. Put everything at the centre of the room and hide a sweet under the pile: the first to find it wins. Or you time it, and make it into a race. Or, from the centre of the room, throw some play-move cards with eyes closed and try to reach the right box. Or there again, tidy to music. It is for us, the adults, to make this “chore” as attractive as possible.
Principle No. 3: they brush their teeth every night? So also tidy every night
Have you ever felt discouraged when faced with a huge pile of things to do? So have your kids. To tidy a week’s worth of games and toys in one go is too hard. To do it every day, however, quickly becomes an automatic habit (which may serve them well in later life).
Principle No. 4: the simpler the tidying, the better it works
If your system for tidying is too sophisticated, because it was created by an adult brain, only you can keep it up over time. So make it as simple as possible.
What is simple tidying?
- open boxes, baskets. As little handling as possible.
- easy-to-understand themes. For example: soft toys/cars/Barbie/Lego…
- as far as possible, you tidy where you play. Or else use boxes with wheels and handles.
Principle No. 5: a “little” chaos encourages creativity
It is not too big a deal if the construction set is tidied in the same box as the plastic animals and the small cars. Frankly, we don’t care. In any case, everything gets mixed up while playing, making up stories, circuits… This creative space is necessary for their growth. Know how to let our perfectionism slip (a little bit).
THE IDEAL EQUIPMENT FOR A WELL-TIDIED ROOM
Prefer several boxes of a reasonable size, suitable for small hands. But think ahead when choosing the size of the container. If your loved-one is mad about construction games, think of what he will be getting for his birthday, for Christmas, and this over several years. Before buying any box or chest, systematically add 30% extra volume to find the ideal size.
Kids are not renowned for being gentle with practical objects: remember this before buying a nice basket or a box with the image of their favourite superhero. In short, we want something rugged.
Just as the categories of toy must be easy to identify, an item of furniture with different drawers is a plus.
Failing that, for the youngest, you can create hand-drawn labels.
Why not convert storage items from the kitchen when you need to store small objects or supplies that need to be separated one from another? For example, a drawer organiser to store brushes and pens or Fresh&Go transparent airtight boxes for small doll’s house accessories.
Books for smaller kids can be organised face on, in trays, like Essentials.
For long objects, those that need to be assembled, disguises or outside games, the ideal storage space is certainly under the bed.
A last piece of advice: toys should be sorted through at least twice a year.