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More advice you didn't ask for

When we moved into our house, one of the things about which we were most excited was that we would be able to give Mia a playroom. Nice for her, sure, but also we would finally have a house free from toys because they would all be in the playroom or her bedroom.

No, that's ok, I'll wait for you to stop laughing.

So obviously we have a dedicated playroom full of toys (and the couch that wouldn't fit down the stairs into the basement and the piano and a small fraction of our seriously obscene book collection) and the house is still full of toys. The play kitchen is in the dining room because Mia likes to do her cooking close to Mommy. (And we almost never use the dining room for anything else, so what the hey.) The living room is always full of toys because the playroom is a little far from the kitchen and I want to keep Owen closer when I am trying to make lunch, etc., and it has become the default parking spot for the two Power Wheels my aunt sent for the kids. (Mia's was confined to the garage until Owen got his, and then I gave up and now they have races around the kitchen.)

The toys don't bother me too much, but once the kids are in bed I like to not spend the evening tripping over them. I don't care if the playroom is a disaster, but the rest of the house starts to annoy me. Cleaning up annoys me too, of course. You can't just cram stuff anywhere to get it out of the way, because come morning Mia will be asking me where the blue maraca is, not the green maraca she hates the green maraca and really needs the blue maraca and if the blue maraca isn't in the drum with the recorder and the harmonica and the kazoo then I am going to have to spend a chunk of my morning looking for it and it is just easier to put it in the right place to start with.

This means that I spend a large portion of my evenings schlepping all over the house. I find three things in the kitchen that belong in the playroom, carry them in, find something in there that belongs in the play kitchen, which turns out to have four barrettes that should be in Mia's room and on and on until I have done eight laps around the house.

But now, I have a system! And this whole long post is just an excuse to tell you about it! And if you tell me you have been doing it for years I am going to be so totally pissed at you, because why didn't you tell me? Anyway, here's my system:

Get a basket. Pick a room. Put away everything that belongs in that room. Put everything that doesn't belong in that room into the basket. Go to the next room and dump your basket out on the floor. You aren't going to want to do this, because it is just more mess and you think you can just pick through the basket. Trust me, you will miss stuff, just dump it. Once again, put away everything that belongs in that room and put everything else into the basket. Move on until you have done all the rooms and your basket is empty, which will take at most two full trips around the house. It takes me about half as long this way. Feel free to thank me profusely and tell me how I have changed your life.

Comments (27)

I apparently have a reading disorder. I read that Post twice, both times wondering why in the world Mia was obsessed with mascara, and blue and green mascara no less.

I am waaaaay lazier than you. I throw everything into pop-up hampers and let the boys sort through for what they want the next day. When I run out of the pop-up hampers, it's time for a major clean-up and toy sort. But the pop-up hampers at least let me get the toys off the floor and out of my way in our miniature townhome.

I was just sitting here looking at my living room thinking that I really needed to start picking up after the little one goes to bed. I just hate wasting any of my free time cleaning but maybe I will try the basket idea and it won't be so bad...maybe.

You have an obscene book collection that you keep in the playroom?!?! :-)

My house is not big enough to utilize this system now, but I'm totally keeping it in mind for the next house!

I was imagining your obscene book collection as shelves full of lurid covers and steamy writing, just a treasure trove of porny tales lining the walls of your playroom. And Beth, that is just wrong.

We got Grace to teach us the clean up song she uses at school when she cleans up her mess there and then we sing it when we all clean up her mess here. And when Suki sees Grace gets to clean, then by god, she is going to be able to clean too! And thus, the whole family is involved and I feel much less resentment about cleaning up everyone else's crap.

Luckly we have a very small house so we don't have this problem :) Seriously, I employ a similar system of doing one room at a time. Those comments cracked me up!

You are BRILLIANT!!!

We don't have a playroom (yet), but we do have a living room/playroom, and two kids rooms full of toys AND multiple rooms that should have NO toys but always end up with toys. I love this idea, because if there's anything that's a bigger pain in the ass than schlepping toys from room to room, it's schlepping them up and down the stairs.

HAHAHAAA! @ Lisa M, I do the SAME thing!!!

This seems like a brilliant system, and one I must adopt. We also have a dedicated playroom, which is usually half empty because she drags everything to all of the other rooms in the house. Just last night I found an elmo in the bathroom sink, and when I sunk into my office chair, in my dark and unlit office, I sat on 3 barrettes, a drum stick, and a toy cell phone. Good times.


we taught the littles even as toddlers to make a big game of putting stuff up at night.
really, don't take this as criticism...I've just been there.
they will do it.

I have a special laundry basket for clean up and it is genius.

Plus I love your advice, and have changed the way I do things a few times because of things that work for you.

I'm giving you a Blog Pop, the Mentor one. Thank you!

I LOVE the playroom. Our girls share a room so that I can have a space to dump toys into and shut the door. I employ a basket system now that we have an upstairs. It's very handy.

we do the basket thing too!

Yeah - I totally do teh basket thing to. But I also use it for husbands crap, I mean stuff and my stuff and everything that is not where it belongs in teh house. I love baskets.

And yeah - I totally read the maraca as mascara as well. Sigh, it is only lunch time and it has been one long day already.

I too like to put the toys away after the kids are in bed. AND I too like to put them in the correct spot, or pretty soon, they are so mixed up that no one plays with anything without dumping out EVERYTHING.

BUT! I did not KNOW of this basket solution. YOU ARE SOOOO SMAAAAHT!

This is a good solution but I would also say it's a good habit to get the kids into if you have them spend a few minutes helping you do this before bedtime. My little girl is only 13 months old and she gets a kick out of our clean up song--we sing "Bye-bye (name of toy) we'll see you soon. Bye-bye (blank) we'll see you soon...Goodbye, Goodbye, Goodbye." The song works wonders and she starts to understand that cleaning up is a part of playing with her toys. :) Glad you found a system that works for you too!

I have never been a huge fan of toys everywhere. Once I had more than one kid, I needed our house to look like a house and not a preschool. And while I never hindered their need for toys/play and creativity, I needed to have some sort of order so I wouldn't go crazy. My kids love to "race" and so a little music, a timer, and let them go to town picking it all up and putting it away. They are never too young to learn how to pick up and clean up after themselves. I think your idea is really great but I also think that kids need to learn how to pick up at least most of their own stuff (crap).

I like my method better, as it's also a way to keep the toy inventory at a manageable level:

1. Get a dog who considers anything left on the floor to be fair game.
2. Instruct your 3-year-old that anything left on the floor will be chewed up by the dog and tossed away.
3. After a few teary incidents, you will notice a remarkable decrease in the amount of toys left scattered around the floor.
4. Also, a hollow ottoman is a great place to throw toys in a quick fix, especially when it's time for a 3-year-old to "clean up."

Brilliant! I try to let Monkey clean up toys. But I am always the one who actually sorts them.

We have a playroom that rarely gets used as well. It doesn't help that it's upstairs with the bedrooms and we tend to hang out downstairs in the kitchen area.

I've been trying to move things up there and get him to play in there. As he gets older he plays there more, but luckily most of the toys stay in their proper areas. (Lego and trains in the dining room, art in the kitchen, puzzles in the library...)

I do dream of the day that I get my dining room back.

I wish I would have known about the basket system for our last house. We went and bought a house with a playroom upstairs between the girlís bedrooms and everything else is downstairs so I donít have to look at it. They are pretty good about keeping it upstairs but sometimes a few stragglers manage to find their way downstairs and usually it ends up on the stairs for the kids to take back up the next morning. The playroom is still a mess on most days but I don't stress over it too much and my kids are 7 and 5 so they are old enough to pick up when it needs cleaning.

Yes! I was thinking of our basket trick as you started explaining your "lappage" around the house!

It is a true sanity saving technique. I also have a "going upstairs" basket...although I could use the stairs as a form of exercise, I guess - but it would just make me very cranky, so the basket stays.

I'm sure this has already been said, but I would do something similar but not so complicated - grab a big basket, chuck in everything thats not been tidied (yes, I have old kids who are SUPOSED to tidy up afterthemselves) and stick the basket in the playroom.

Enjoy a toy free evening.

The next morning, when Mia asks for the green maraka (or blue, sorry) because it's not in the drum, reply - it must be in the lost property box darling, go have a look.

Then once a fortnight or month go ARGGGGH and have a sort out and EVERYTHING AWAY PROPERLY GODDAMIT.

house organisiation 101 mamacrow style :D

Heck, I'm just impressed that you have anything where it actually belongs. There are no such places in my own house! LOL ... Kinda joking... kinda... not.

I'll wait for you to stop laughing after this one... When I read that Mia has a blue maraca and a green maraca - I thought it said blue MASCARA and green MASCARA and I thought, "Who lets their little kid play with MASCARA?"

I am not going to tell you that I have been using this system for years cause I don't want you to be pissed at me!!

So...instead I will IDEA!!! I will have to try it!!!

Yeah...let's go with that!

I'm really glad you posted that tip because it would have seriously taken me years to figure it out. I'm actually going to start applying this to my husband's laundry.


I'm really glad you posted that tip because it would have seriously taken me years to figure it out. I'm actually going to start applying this to my husband's laundry.


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