Wednesday, January 20, 2010

#19 Zone Defense in the Toy Room

#19- Children are not born with the knowledge of how to clean their rooms.  You will need to demonstrate how it's done many times, you will be required to set up spaces they are physically capable of cleaning, and you will have to use several styles of toy defense when protecting your home from a full frontal attack of primary colored plastic.  For toys, I recommend Zone Defense, and by that I mean, different types of toys should have different locations in your home.  Consider how adults store the items they use for entertainment.  It would not be practical to store the video game console and all of the component parts, the stack of cooking magazines, the supplies for making beaded jewelry, the pedicure supplies and my book club book all in the same cabinet.  Those are the supplies I need to do some of my favorite activities, but I do them in different spaces all over my home, so I store them in different locations.

This can be true for your child and their toys.  If you are able to designate different spaces for different types of toys, it makes storage, clean-up and even playtime simpler.  My oldest stores her "Girl" doll with its furniture, shoes, clothing and accessories in her bedroom.  We keep the dress-up clothes and the play kitchen in the playroom.  The stuffed animals live in the bedroom my little ones share and the trains and blocks are in the basement TV room.  Does this mean they are only allowed to play with these toys in their designated spot?  No, but that's usually what happens.  Do I freak out when the "Girl" doll visits the basement to have a tower of blocks constructed around her?  No, but when playtime is over she is returned to her home in the bedroom.  Zone Defense can be applied to toys.

Setting up the space is also critical to getting help defending your home from the toy attack.  When assigning homes for toys that are not in use, have the user of this toy take a tour of the space with you and reach up as high as they can.  Don't store anything above this height that you expect the child to be able to put away without assistance.  When choosing containers to store blocks, action figures, dress-up, and any sort of toy that comes in piles or bunches, make sure the container is 25% larger than the items you intend to store in it.  This makes it easy for kids to scoop things up and throw them in the container.  If it's not easy, they won't do it.  Extra room in containers also gives you space to toss in those extra toys that are not in their designated location but have traveled into the space and simply need to be picked up at the end of the day.

Finally, once a month, or more regularly if you are an organizer, have a frequently visiting mother in law, or you find that the toys in your home are migrating too often, do something I like to call "Pushing the Restart Button."  This is not cleaning.  It does not involve the vacuum or a bottle of glass cleaner.  It simply means taking 10 minutes or less, but never more than that (If its taking you more than 10 minutes to complete this task you should be doing it more regularly) and return everything to its home.  We dump almost everything out of the containers and pull out the items that belong someplace else.  Don't take them there in the middle of pushing the restart button, you'll get distracted and never return, just make a pile by the door, or toss them into a basket for transporting them to their homes when you're finished.  This is also a good time to pull out a toy or two that isn't getting played with and can help you keep a handle on the sheer volume of playthings your people have.

My point.  Toys can have zones.  Zones should have spaces set up for the size of the people playing in them and containers that are adequate for holding their contents.  Pushing the restart button is not cleaning, but it may keep you from having to shut down. 

1 comment:

  1. It's so obvious that you were a teacher!
    This is so similar to what is done at preschool.

    I have found one trick that has worked for me. The really messy toys such as the Barbie hairstyle head and accoutrements has been stored in a hard to open bin. When the children come to me to have it opened, it's my opportunity to make sure that the stuff they already have out gets cleaned up before a million more tiny pieces are added to the mix.