We have a babysitter coming tonight because Ram can't watch the children alone yet and I have a meeting. We spent this week doing lots of cleaning and organizing before my parents come (Friday night or Saturday) and before Ram's parents come for Thanksgiving. So I've been doing other tasks, but I decided we should check on the playroom in the basement-it would be nice to be cleaned up so they can play down there while the babysitter is here since Ram will also be here.
OH MY GOODNESS! It had not been that long since we did a major clean up the basement toys. They have 2 Thomas "tents" in the basement and they had those stuffed completely. Toys that belong upstairs, clothes packed in bags that belong upstairs (they were going pretend camping so they packed their clothes), suitcases (thankfully empty) that belong in a different part of the basement, all the contents of their play kitchen (dishes and play food)-all of that in these tents.
We've had problems that have become worse recently at clean up time. The past few days they have got out and mixed up ALL their card games-that takes a long time to sort out all the games and put them away. The card games were several days in a row, not just once. Lamb 3 plays the whole time. Lamb 2 picks up a few things and then plays. Lamb 1 works most of the time but complains that no one is helping him. Lamb 1 also has a good point that he usually (not in the case of the tent mess today) didn't get most of the toys out-Lamb 2 and 3 did. Ram isn't able to help at all right now so if I help clean up then usually one Lamb works with me and the other two are unsupervised. I've been too busy during Ram's recovery time to really devote to cleaning up with the Lambs. I get frustrated spending my time on this but they are really too young to clean it all up without some supervision.
I feel like I've tried everything at clean up time-setting the timer, rewards, punishments, assigning a section to each Lamb to clean up, no eating lunch until it's cleaned up, etc. I'm frustrated because part of the problem is they just have SO MUCH. I have a friend that is trying to live closer to an Amish lifestyle. They got rid of their TV, really downsized clothes and toys, and have a family closet. I'm trying to downsize toys and clothes but it is just so overwhelming because there are so many areas to clean out. While Ram is recovering and while our parents are visiting are not the times to be doing major clean out projects. I had great plans and I accomplished a lot this summer, but I didn't get to a lot of areas that desperately need to be done.
The Lambs do have a place for everything-tubs for trains, train tracks, trucks, music instruments, etc.; cradle for books, barn for farm toys, shelf for games, boxes for toy cars, etc. Some of their toys are overflowing these places, but the problem is not that they don't know where to put their toys.
I know the Duggers put all their toys in bins and just get out one or two bins at a time so the toys seem new each time they get out a new bin. I like that idea but even with our Lambs 2 years apart, they all want to play with different things. Especially Lamb 1 and 3 don't want to play with the same toys. We have put most of the toys in the basement and the toys that they play with frequently in the living room. That's why I was so upset that the basement had toys that belonged upstairs.
One of our members said her husband required their children to clean up before every nap time and before every bed time. Sometimes I think that would be a good idea because it would be less to clean up. Other times I think, why would I want this battle for clean up twice a day instead of just once a day?
What I ended up doing today was having Lamb 1 put the clothes away that were in the basement. When he finished that then I had Lamb 1 clean up the living room. I put Lamb 3 down for rest time so he wasn't playing while we were working. Lamb 2 and I cleaned up the basement by ourselves. Ram was upstairs to supervise Lamb 1 cleaning up. We got everything cleaned up, but I didn't like that all 3 Lambs made the mess in the basement and only Lamb 2 cleaned it up. Plus I did far too much of the clean up when the toys belong to them.
I'm trying to think of a temporary solution until I have time to clean out their toys. I think we are going to try the twice a day clean up. I'm also going to set the timer for a reasonable amount to clean up and whatever is not cleaned up at the end of that time, I will pick up and sort right then-either throw away, give away, or a box with toys that I think are nice enough (they play with often) that they could work to earn back. Maybe with this system I'll get the toys cleaned out quickly! I'm hoping that just a few times of losing toys this way will convince them to clean up at clean up time. I also plan to move more of the toys from the living room to the basement.
Do you have any other ideas to help with cleaning up toys?