I call it ‘the toy-nado’ – the cyclone of toys that seems to hit our living room every day, no matter how tidy it was twenty minutes earlier.
For a long time, I thought I had two choices. Ignore the mess, on the basis that the toynado would strike again within minutes of putting anything away. Or tidy it all up myself after they’d gone to sleep, so that I didn’t have to eat dinner with Mummy Pig in my peripheral vision.
I never considered that I could make my children tidier. Then my younger child went to nursery and one day I saw him enthusiastically tidying up with other children in his classroom. It made me think that perhaps he (and I) could behave differently at home, and maybe even influence his pathologically messy older brother. Since then, while we don’t live in anything like perfect order, I have managed to keep our home a bit straighter.
These are my top 10 tricks...
1) Withhold TV until the toys are away
Since we all resort to the square babysitter now and then (ie every single day), you may as well use it as a bribe. I have found the most effective way to get kids to tidy up is to say in a loud, teacher-like voice: “OK, no TV until all the toys are away.’ Very few pre-schoolers will fight you.