Packing away toys at the end of a busy day of play is a job no-one in our house enjoys. The majority of the time, the children are encouraged to clean up after themselves and take responsibility for their own belongings, but I understand that sometimes it's hard to be motivated to pack up, especially when there are a lot of toys to go away.
For these tough times, I've invented a game we like to call "Job Step". It's quite a bit of fun and doesn't actually involve me doing any of the tidying, I just need to be around to run the game. I think it's effective because it breaks down the task of packing up (which can be overwhelming for young children) and gives an extra motivation for packing up (because, let's face it, when you're 3 and 6 years old, the prospect of tidy lounge room is not motivation enough!).
How we play:
- We have some steps going down to our lounge room, so the children sit on the "job step" (hence the name) and await their instructions.
- I then assign each child a small, easy job. I say it in a quick, fun way though, so it sort of sounds like a race eg. I'll say "Right, Em, put all the plastic animals back in their container, go!" "Ed, take your shoes to your bedroom, go!"
- They then rush around, completing their task until it's all done, then run back to their step to wait for their next job.
It's a really simple way to manage packing up time and the kids love it. Sometimes I make it a bit fun and silly by commentating on the packing up like a horse racing race -caller and other times we have a tiny sticker at the end of each job. But most of the time, we just play the simple version and the packing away is done before we know it.