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Are 3 and 5 yr olds capable of tidying up their toys? How?

(23 Posts)
Lalisa Wed 13-Aug-08 15:18:31

DCs spent all morning in an elaborate fantasy play session involving nearly every accessible object in the house. This happens fairly regularly. But how to get them to clean up aftewards? Have tried music, clean up songs, timer, oh and plenty of threats some of which I have carried out already (we wont go out until this stuff is put away.. whats left out goes in a crate and doesnt come back out for a week...)TBH nothing is really working. 3 yr old DS just flat out refuses, and 5 yr old only does anything if I scream, then quickly loses interest. She will work "alongside" me, but with me doing all the work. Should I just give up? Am I being unreasonable to expect that if they can take something out of a basket they can put the same object back in the basket?


barnsleybelle Wed 13-Aug-08 15:25:41

It's annoying isn't it?!

When my ds was around the 3-4 mark he was the same and i was sick of the arguing.

One day, after i asked him nicely and i got a "no". I said very calmly "well, if you havn't started to tidy them away by the time i count to 10, they are going in the bin".

Of course, i got to 10 and nothing happened, so, yes, they went in the outside bin.

He cried, and i said "well, i did tell you".
Maybe, it was luck but he never did it again!!

Yes, i did get them out of the bin when he wasn't looking and he got them back eventually.

Short, sharp methods usually work for me, but not for all i know.

kbaby Wed 13-Aug-08 21:10:56

I always threaten to hoover them up and will actually get the hoover out and start hoovering, after her pleeds not to hoover them she eventually puts them away.
However her version of tidying up involves just putting all the toys in one big box or on the bed which is not my idea of tidying but I guess I cant be too fussy.

She keeps getting star of the day from school for cleaning stuff away shock dont know how they manage that

whatdayisit Wed 13-Aug-08 21:17:21

No TV 'til it's done!!!

Thinkstoomuch Wed 13-Aug-08 21:28:05

Another vote for no TV until toys are cleared away. Plus making sure there is a designated place for everything helps - I have boxes with picture labels on (bit anal, I know). We've always been pretty strict about DS1, who's 3, tidying up at least the bulk of his stuff before bed/going out/getting more stuff out so he knows that's the law! We've got quite a small lounge and I can't stand too much clutter.

snickersnack Wed 13-Aug-08 21:32:29

I agree with the "if it's not tidied up, it goes in the bin" approach (though being a soft touch I usually go for the "on a high shelf for a week" angle).

morocco Wed 13-Aug-08 21:34:28

once the room is tidy you can stick the telly on

it works wonders

I do help out though

Oblomov Wed 13-Aug-08 21:36:33

Have you just started doing this . I mean is a new thing to your 2 children ? Becasue ds has been doing this since he was able to.... walk, take things out, thus put things in, the toy box.
I mean, is this a new thing that you are trying to introduce ?

No more softly, softly.
No until ......

Lalisa Thu 14-Aug-08 08:05:12

no its not a new thing, its just that my attempts have always been sporadic. i.e. I'd love to do this at the end of every day, but sometimes I'm too shattered at 6pm to be a cheerleader. Looks like its possible at any rate. will try harder...

twentypence Thu 14-Aug-08 08:29:13

Ds is five and his inventions get bigger and bigger - you can't tidy one away until he hasn't added to it for 24 hours. Luckily our lounge is massive and I don't care about having tied together bits of string all over it.

He is tidy with everything else though.

Bellie Thu 14-Aug-08 08:45:12

I find with dd that I have to be reasonably specific with her - rather than tidy up your toys, I have to say can you put the puzzle away, and then can you put your fifi house away etc - much easier for her to grasp what needs to be done.
Also do the no tv until tidy when she is having a stop about doing it.

Elkat Fri 15-Aug-08 09:38:22

With DD1 (almost 5), I insist that she helps to tidy up after a play session. In her playroom, the toys that are easy to put away (not very many pieces / big toys etc) are down low but the toys that are potentially very messy (arts and crafts / jigsaw puzzles / board games etc) are kept away in cupboards or high up on sheleves, so my DDs have to ask for them. Usually the answer is yes, but I do often say @I'll get it down once you've put your dressing up away' or something similar and that often works. HTH

mawbroon Fri 15-Aug-08 09:53:47

It might be worth trying this approach.

Say "time to tidy up now" and then leave it. They probably will just ignore the request.

Then you wait for the "Mum can I have/do this (or whatever)". You then say "yes, but only once your toys are tidied away".

Repeat until they get the message.

Works with my mindees

twentypence Sun 17-Aug-08 03:31:05

Elkat - I do exactly that too - "can I paint?" is met with "certainly I'll go and get the paints and you can tidy up your electricity substation with solar panels (heap of cardboard, string and sellotape)"

I may even suggest painting if the creative junk has got past the point of no return.

mumoftwinz Thu 21-Aug-08 17:28:14

Started trying to get the concept home from about 2 yrs. Now at 4.5 we have boxes with lables on ie cars in one box, power rangers outfits in another. End of day - 'tidy up or no dinner' Works a treat.

Overmydeadbody Thu 21-Aug-08 17:33:20

Don't give up, just keep insisting that they tidy up.

I find getting out a big black rubbish bag and setting a timer and threatening throwing away every toy still left out after the timer has gone works a treat.

The trick is also, not to wait till the end of the day when the house is in chaos, make them tidy up as they go along, and give them specific instructions to follow, rather than just saying "tidy up all the toys" be more specific, so "put all the lego back in this container" when they've done that "ok, well done, now put all the cars back in the car bucket" etc etc

I find it helps DS if I tell him what to tidy up and, more specifically, where to put it, naming wherever the toy is kept (otherwise, I have found that he has simple shoved everything under his bed and claimed to have tidied up <sigh>

Overmydeadbody Thu 21-Aug-08 17:34:36

and as mawbroon suggested, it helps to ask them to tidy up when they have just asked you for something. A kind of trade-off.

"mum can I have a snack"

"ok I'll get you something to eat after you've put the train-set away"

dandycandyjellybean Thu 21-Aug-08 17:37:12

suggestion that works for older kids i.e. pocket money age...The tidy up basket. You get the whole gang to have a tidy away session, say just before dinner (having a timer and making it into a game might work with littlies). Then make sure that they understand that anything that is lying around afterwards goes in the 'tidy up' box and they will have to pay a 'fine' to get it back. (Nominal obviously but it get's the point accross, my mate who did this said she made loads of dosh from her dh!!!!grin)

chipmunkswhereareyou Thu 21-Aug-08 21:54:41

Make a game of it? Who can get 10 toys/ 20 pieces of lego into the basket quickest?
It might stop them moaning about it for a bit?

cass66 Thu 21-Aug-08 21:58:12

At my 6 yr olds school they have tidy up music. the teacher puts on the Benny Hill music (when he gets chased by scantily clad women), and they all are programmed to tidy up. Might be worth a try????

Pitchounette Fri 22-Aug-08 12:22:48

Message withdrawn

beattrixpotter Fri 22-Aug-08 15:28:02

i am the last out of my fiftenn friends to have children. They all their kids over 10 years ago so for me i can see what worked for some of them and i did my own analysis from this with my kids. The tid up one that i noticed was that you have to start them very very young and make sure you do not get another toy out until the one before has been put away. I only ever had 3 toys out at a time before one of them went away. Now my son has just tidied the whole play rrom all by himself and he is approaching 5. This rule i can certainly say works but i must admit there are so many rules that don't. I have a few threads of help on here too.

My now friends that do not know anyone that has had children before all did not do this and they can not get htere kids to tidy at all.

Start young.

sagacious Fri 22-Aug-08 15:30:05


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