Some years ago, I was fantastising about writing an autobiography. The title was inspired by the animal impressions my children were fond of doing at the time, and the tidal wave of toys that seemed to have consumed every available surface, no matter how unlikely it may seem. I am not terribly proud to confess that the proposed title I had in my was “There’s a Lion in the Passage and a Barbie up my Bum”. It had been one of those days.
One problem we face (and I’m sure we’re not alone here) is stuff being left lying around all over the house. It doesn’t take long, if everyone leaves just one thing where it doesn’t belong each day, for the house to degenerate into chaos. I hate chaos. As FlyLady says: CHAOS = Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome. If we’re supposed to be hospitable, we need a place in which to be hospitable – a neat, organised, welcoming space.
Some incredibly inspired soul (whose link I have sadly lost) recently posted a photo on Pinterest of their “uh oh” box: a big box with a sign on it, explaining that what you’ve left out has been picked up by Mom and put into the box. You can only get it out by doing a chore. It’s a great plan: stuff gets tidied away; lessons get learned; and each chore has it’s own FREE reward: the toy you would otherwise have lost.
In a word: genius.
So now we have an “Uh Oh” box, too. Everything goes into it, including Papa Bear’s slip slops and Goldilocks’ favourite blanket. Nothing is safe from the Uh Oh box unless it’s been safely tidied away where it belongs. If the week ends and the box still has anything in it, on Saturday I take it all to charity. No quibble. No arguing about which treasures (if any) should go to a more needy (or deserving) home. I wish I could say “no tears”, but that’d be stretching things a bit. At least they have a week to prepare for their loss, or take measures to avoid it.
Honestly, it makes me inordinately happy to see the kids tidying up after themselves, willingly doing chores, my house no longer being overrun, and rewards being given freely and fairly – without me actually spending any money. And of course: no more ranting about picking up toys!
I highly recommend the “Uh Oh” box route if toys have taken over your life. What do you use to motivate your family to clean up after themselves? I could do with the inspiration :).