Starting with Step 1 STORAGE: To teach your kids to have a home for every toy....even if it shares a home with other "trucks, balls, etc" Everything needs a home. I can hand T a toy and say go put this in it's home and he knows where it belongs!!
Step 2- SORT....when we clean we sort into piles....trucks, balls, stuffed animals, etc. Then put all away at the same time....instead of making numerous trips across the room.
Step 3- DON'T DO IT FOR THEM.....I HELP them, but as I help they are helping......if they start playing with toys, I remind them stay on task.....and when we are done we will get toys out and play. If they refuse to clean keep in mind they might be too tired, or not feeling well.....so save it for when they are feeling better. If it is BAD memories it will not work!!
Step 4- Make it fun.....sing the clean up song "Clean up Clean up everybody do your share....Clean up Clean up pick up toys everywhere!" Even C at age 2 can sing it. When I start singing....they immediately start picking up.
Step 4- Rewards!!! Have a Popsicle or Ice cream sandwich for reward....or quarter for chore jar....stickers....what ever works for your child. Now that we have done this for so long.....his room stays clean- BUT when I need to go and straighten up, a pat on the back works!! We have a HUGE Wooden TOY BOX for large toys.....stick horses, swords, stuffed animals. It is nice to throw a lot of things in but not too much- so you can still keep it some what organized!!
Look at that happy helper......he jumped into every picture and posed!! HA!!
I keep an empty plastic bag hanging on the door knob and throw away all color pages, and just TRASH I happen to find. I also like to wear something with pockets.....and put small things that don't belong or even things I don't want them to see me throw away. Honestly, every time we clean.....I throw away every little "happy meal" toy we get.....usually because it is broken too!!
I also try to find any TOYS are things we haven't used in awhile.....and remove.....usually they are never missed!!
Storage bins.....My dad made this and the toy box from scratch. If you are lucky and have a handy man in your family.....I just saw a storage solution in a pottery barn magazine....and showed it to him. HE gave it to him for his second birthday! Bought the LARGE bins at Wal Mart. On each Bin is a PICTURE and words of what is in them, since he cannot read yet.....he knows the pictures. They are BALLS, RESCUE TRUCKS, CONSTRUCTION TRUCKS, TRUCKS, SKATEBOARD RAMP & TANKS, HANDY MANNY & MICKEY MOUSE things. Those are our bins now. The cards are removable- so you can change them as they grow out of the toys. This storage unit is also on caster wheels....so I can remove it and vacuum behind and under it. WE LOVE IT!!! It is wonderful to have.
I also have little....shoebox size bins under his bed. For all the little tiny toys, toy soldiers, matchbox cars, toy bugs!!! There are 6 small bins. They also have pictures on them to help him keep them straight.
Like I said, we have done this for 2 years. But I firmly believe that if you don't teach your children to clean up after themselves, it enables them- especially boys!! Boys really have NO natural instinct to clean up after themselves I believe....I live with 3 of them!! And it also makes your job harder.
This morning we had a play date with some kiddos.....right before they came, the living room was already cluttered....I asked T to take his bin.....pick up all toys and go put them in there right home. I explained to him that we want our house to be clean for company, and there would be little babies who could get hurt if they played with big kids toys.....he completely understood.....and BOTH BINS were empty before guest arrived.....I then hugged his neck gave him a HIGH 5 and told him I appreciated his help. Honestly, that took 10 minutes off of my job!!
Ok, so that is my "system for toys!" It works for us......what works for you??