Pick Up Your Toys!

Around our house we often find an assortment of toys that the children have left out after play.  This is one of the most aggravating things about having children, in my opinion.  I accidentally stumbled upon a strategy to get the toys picked up quickly.  My boys are 6 and almost 4 years of age.  My 6 year old has Aspergers Syndrome, and can be a bit difficult to manage.  (To put it mildly.)  So we must sometimes find creative ways to get necessary jobs done without a lot of resistance.  This is one of them.  I can’t guarantee it will work in your home, but it’s worth a try.

Step One: 

Purchase or borrow a copy of The Mouse and the Motorcycle, by Beverly Cleary.  Read it to your children.  Or, if you are pressed for time, play the audiobook for them.  This is great to listen to in the car.  As a last resort, you can use the movie.   You will notice that there is a dramatic scene in the story where Ralph is almost sucked up by the vaccuum while riding the motorcycle. 

Step Two:

This happened automatically for us, but if it doesn’t, subtly emphasize the fact that the mouse and his motorcycle are almost sucked up by the vaccuum.  This was the main point that my son took from the story, without me saying a thing.  Things can be sucked up by the vaccuum cleaner.   Ok, so I took advantage of it.  <evil cackle> 

Step Three:

When you are about to take out the vaccuum to clean, casually say to your children, “I’m going to vaccuum now, please put away whatever might get sucked up.”  Or however you want to word it.  Try to be matter-of-fact about it.  Hopefully your children will rush off to rescue the toys.  Don’t give them much time.  Turn on the vaccuum in an area that is free of toys and start working your way around, keeping an eye on them to see that they keep picking up.  If you see a toy when you are cleaning,  point it out to them.  Have fun with it.  Talk to the vaccuum.  “No!  Don’t do it, vaccuum!”  Act very alarmed.  “Uh, oh, he’s going after another one!”  “Look out toy!”  “Oh no!”

For us, it gets the toys picked up quickly.  Score one point for the parents!  I hope it works for you too.