Kids Cleaning Up Toys

How do you get your children to clean up their toys?   Do you bribe? Scream? Threaten? Take away privileges? I have definitely done all of those.   But it still hasn’t solved my age old problem of how to get my kids to clean up their toys.   Now I have a serious dilemma. Not only does my playroom get trashed everyday, it is the first room you see when you walk into my house.   When my playroom is a mess I go into panic mode when my doorbell rings.   So I needed to find a system that worked to get my children to clean up their playroom.

clean up playroom game

I have tried to organize it.   I have tried systems and different tricks.   It is just very overwhelming for a 4 1/2 year old boy and a 2 year old girl to clean up when it is a wreck.   So I racked my brain.   Then it came to me!   My son is my mini me. He looks like me, acts like me, and in general favors me completely! What would motivate me to clean up my toys?   A COMPETITION!

Now this system took me a while to complete.   However, I think in the end it will be well worth it.   Already it is working like a CHARM!

1.   First I took pictures of all the toys in his room in the different categories. This one below is the “musical instruments.”


2.   Using Picnik I edited it and then added the words above.   I just used a Times New Roman font to keep it readable for them.


3.   Then using Microsoft Word I printed them out two to a sheet.   Using my paper cutter I cut off the excess paper.   These were sized a bit smaller than 4” x 6”.


4.   Using my trusty little laminator I laminated them and then used rings to attach them to the front of some bins that I got from Target.


Okay yes that is a good idea in and of itself.   But this is where it gets good.   I also resized all the images again to a smaller size and laminated those making them 2 1/2” x 3 1/2” laminated cards.   So now we have a place for everything and we have coordinating picture cards to go with it.

clean up toys

Here is where the fun begins!

We have a set of about 40 cards.   I included some that say “Choose a Card,” “Free Card,” or “Switch a Card With Someone Else” .   I also have some blank cards for the times that random things make their way into the playroom. Then the rest are pictures of his toys.   Here are a few variations of our “Clean Up” game.

clean up playroom game

1.   Pick out the cards which coordinate with the mess.   Each person is responsible to clean up the cards they received.   They can not get a new card until the one they have is cleaned. A card is taken away if you didn’t clean up the card correctly. The person who is done first gets a special privilege.

2.   Pick out the cards which coordinate with the mess. For every card they finish they get a special privilege or treat.   8 cards = 8 minutes of staying up later, or 8 M&M’s, etc.

3. Pass out all the cards (some of which are already cleaned up) and give them a time limit (say 20 minutes).   Set the timer for 20 minutes.   Anytime they have left over goes into a pot.   For example, they cleaned up in 13 minutes so they get 7 minutes.   At the end of the week add that time up.   If it is 42 minutes they get to pick the family game activity for 42 minutes.

Even our 2 year old can do this!   Finally a system that works for me.   You have no idea how wonderful this idea has been.   It definitely took me hours to set the system up.   But so far it is paying off!

Do you have an idea of how to clean up toys?   I would love to hear how you tame the toy monster!