Ugh! So toddlers are messy. They don't like to keep their belongings in any semblance of order - especially if you ask them to. Your house will look like a toy store exploded in your living room and no matter how often you (and child. . . and husband) put things away, as soon as you turn around it's like it never happened.
So what's a mom to do?
Full disclosure, I am a contradiction - I would love for my house to always look perfect like a magazine photoshoot. . . but I regularly put off doing anything about it. Every now and again I get into do-things-mode and re-organize or paint or repurpose furniture or something else designer-y. But not regularly. And especially not lately since pregnancy fatigue, working full time, directing a musical and family stuff seems to be taking up my everything.
But I have discovered a secret that works for our family and for our, particular, toddler. I have no idea if this will work for anyone else but I'll throw it out there just in case!
My son does not like to put things away when asked. He does, however, seem to like each item to have a specific home and will occasionally put things back where he found them, unprompted. We are hoping to foster this behaviour :)
To help out in this endeavour, we have done a few things over the last week that seem to be working for us:
- We already own a nice squishy ottoman with a hinged lid and room for storage inside. It's in our living room and we had been using it to store other items. Not anymore! We emptied it out and filled it with DS's upstairs toys. It might just be the novelty but so far he happily opens it, takes out a toy, plays and then returns it to pick out something new.
- Lately we also have instituted a rule that all toys have to go away before dinnertime so DS and Daddy put everything back in its spot before we eat.
- We find saying "Let's put this back in its spot" works better for our son than "Let's put this away" or phrasing it as a direction instead of a group activity. It's a small thing but it makes a difference for our specific toddler.
- I don't know if other people have this issue but why, in the name of all that is logical and right in the world, do some toy manufacturers make toys with lots of little parts and no storage?? Like, why doesn't that puzzle have a box? This game which involves little cards - no box? no bag? What made that seem like a good idea?? Our solution: make-up bags!! Since joining Ipsy (most recent review here), I have a ton of make-up bags. I have also "won" a bunch at bridal / baby showers, etc. I do not often use them for their intended purpose. Instead of throwing them in a closet, they now house puzzles, games, crayons, stamps, pencil crayons, etc. DS likes his little bags and because they are all different colours and designs, he is quickly learning what is inside of each. Plus, they feel a little more special than zip-loc bags. Love this!
I'm not sure if it's just the novelty that is helping with this issue. . . or if it's just that our particular child tends to be fastidious and orderly. He does like to sort items and line up his toys, for example. I am certainly not saying this is a magic bullet for parenting troubles but I love when things just seem to click for our family and wanted to share just in case, maybe, it might work for yours :)
Do you have any exciting parenting hacks to share? Hit the comments. I'd love to hear them!