Sunday, November 7, 2010

Time to change

Fall back? Not us. At least not today—this year I actually anticipated the switch in time to gradually adjust our schedule (in increments of 15 minutes) before having to set back the clock! The entire process (not including the embarrassing part at the beginning where I went 15 minutes the wrong way) took about 10 days and was totally worth it: If the kids are cranky today, it's definitely not because their internal clocks are messed up!

Something else is changing for us today, though, and it involves the kids' toys. The playroom has always been somewhat of a wreck at the end of the day, but recently the kids decided it would be fun to start systematically emptying all of the toy boxes and scattering their contents about the playroom. As a result, Ted and I do nothing but trip over the discarded toys all day, and then we're stuck cleaning up this disaster area after the kids go to bed:

(Click to enlarge)

The way we figure it, the solution to this mess is twofold. First, we have decided to make half of the kids' toys "disappear" into a closet for the time being. After the kids get bored with what we've left in the playroom, we'll make those toys disappear and rotate the other group of toys back into service (until the kids get tired of them, and then we'll repeat the cycle). We are hoping that this will help the kids to better appreciate all of the wonderful gifts and hand-me-downs that our family has been blessed to receive up to this point and keep the playroom from looking like it was hit by an F5 tornado. 

Secondly, we want to start training the kids to pick up their toys before they go to bed. Last night, when we asked them to help us put away their toys for the first time, reactions were mixed: Although the boys totally ignored us, we did get some half-hearted assistance from the girls. Unfortunately, however, none of the kids seem to grasp the concept of leaving the toys alone once they're back in the toy boxes. Anyone have any good ideas on how to teach kids this age to put away their toys—and then leave them there?


Bethany said...

a: my phone temporarily set an hour ahead instead of behind which left me confused all night and I feel you on the waking up the wrong way.
b: clean up games: it takes longer but if you tell everyone to "quick, pick up 3 toys!" then wait, work on counting, they get really excited. Then "ok, pick up 7 toys" change it up and it's a fun game for some reason.
Also, sometimes if you have smaller containers to put the toys in it can be less overwhelming; when that is full put it out of the way. I also ALWAYS stick the kids on picking up the stuff that actually has a place that has a bunch of one thing, ex: fake food, legos, etc.
YOU pick up all the food, JUST the food. And they work really hard trying to find it. Sometimes extra help is needed, "oh there's one over there" Mostly they like helping, they just don't see the need or have no idea WHERE to start (much like myself.) By the time they are done with picking up the small annoying things, you can help them by picking up several of the other toys and it helps a LOT.
Also, it's a LONG process to get them to actually do significant help when they pick up, the point is that they actually help pick up at least one or two toys.
Also, it does help throughout the day to pick up a little at a time, but with 4 toddlers I would see this as very pointless. I like your idea of hiding some of the toys and working in cycles, that way there is more ROOM for them to chase each other around and less to pick up. Are they to the point yet where they really like their OWN toys? You could get like a small basket for each kid and have certain toys for each kid (they can still share) but each kid picks up and puts in THEIR basket the toys they played with or want to play with tomorrow. And if they're small enough it's not too overwhelming. Then hide EVERYTHING else. This would be more of an initial activity, then you can also see who was actually helping pick up more of their stuff. It could get ugly but I say it's worth a try. Sorry this is such a long comment. I hope you find something that helps!

Angela said...

make it FUN! (btw we have a ton of mutual Anderson friends incase you wonder who I am!!) We make it a game and sing 'It's time to tidy up, it's time to tidy up e - i - didli - i it's time to tidy up'.

once the routine is established it actually works pretty well!

Suzy said...

Bethany, I REALLY like your suggestion of telling them to find all the blocks (or whatever) and put them in one place. I could see that working for at least some of the kids. Thanks for taking the time to list all of your ideas!!!

Angela, people on FB have been suggesting singing a song, too. One is the "Clean Up" song? I don't know any of these songs, so I might have to make up my own. :)

Anonymous said...

Maybe a reward to look forward to when it's all done...Like, a family cuddle on the couch with a good book before bed.or stickers collected toward a treat of some kind.

Usagani Triplets said...

Since my kids are younger than yours, I'm not sure if your kids are ready for this or not. A good way to teach them to pick-up is to tell them to put away all of the toys they want to keep. After they go to bed, any toys that are left out "disappear." It should only take a few days for them to figure it out. Unfortunately, it may mean that one or two kids do all of the cleaning because they care more, but that is just part of being a multiple. If they are really missing a certain toy that disappeared, then they can earn it back by doing a "chore" that is age appropriate. Just a suggestion....

Kari said...

Way to go on the time change. I definitely need to do this next time around as today was miserable! I can't wait to hear what works for cleaning up, the thought off not having to clean their toy room at the end of the day sounds like heaven!

Four babies 4 us said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog...Believe me, it was hard not to laugh when my boy complimented my tata's! You're in for some really great times as your quads get bigger (but you already know that)!
Keep taking pictures and keep blogging. You'll be glad you did!
As far as the toys go? I haven't figured it out yet myself and my quads are 8...
Good luck!


Valerie said...

I don't have quads, but I do have 4 kids. I think the best way (for us) to keep toy clutter to a minimum is to keep it organized. We have different baskets/bins/buckets for all toys. All toy animals are in one bucket, all matchbox cars in one bucket, all little people in a tote... It makes it easier to hand a kid a basket and send them around the room with the chore of picking up a specific item. And if you have something with a lid you can quick slap that lid on their before they decide to take the toys back out again. :)
Have you ever seen She has some amazing (and simple!) plans for building your own, well, your own anything. But there are some great storage systems that would be great in your playroom. I hope I'm not sounds like a sponsor for her site or something. I'm just a mom who likes some organization. :)s

Lindsey said...

I teach one and two year olds and have a few of my own. I think that you are off to a great start by reducing the number of toys in the room.
Taking toys out of a bin and dumping toys onto the floor is just what kids that age do. Iv'e discovered that you can reduce the mess by a lot if you give them a bin to dump the toys in TO. For example, put a shallow bin next to the toy box and direct the children to empty the toys into that instead of throwing them onto the floor. Act all excited when they do. It won't take long for them to get the hang of it. When that bin is full, the game becomes putting the toys back into the toy bin -- it won't feel like clean up time to them.
For toys with lots of pieces that they are dumping out of the toy -- give them a bin to dump the contents into. The game then become dumping the pieces back and forth.
They are pretty young to do much more than cleaning up a toy or two. It's normal and expected that toys will then come back out. What's important is that you introduce them to the idea of cleaning up in a positive way that won't end up driving you nuts!

Suzy said...

These tips are all great ... thanks so much to everyone who took the time to comment! I love the idea of each type of toy having its own bin, and also the idea of just introducing them to the concept of cleaning up and not necessarily expecting them to do the whole job ... takes the pressure off of everyone. :)

Her and Her and Him said...

Hi Suzy,
I've been reading your blog since just before the kids were born but this is my first comment. I think the other suggestions you got were great but thought I'd leave you with our clean up song. It's funny how singing a simple little song really does get the kids moving. My son will sing along with me as he is cleaning up.

(sung to the tune of The Muffin Man song)

Don't you know it's clean up time
Clean up time, clean up time.
Don't you know it's clean up time and everyone (or use a child's name) get's to help.

Good luck! It's amazing how quickly kiddos can destroy a room with toys.

:) Heather

Suzy said...

Heather, I think that's my favorite song suggestion so far ... thanks for de-lurking to share it with me! :)


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