“I picking up so very well.” Mary’s statement is meant to draw attention approval. Even though she’s just grabbing everything scattered all over the floor and stacking it on the diaper bags that I have yet to put away.
At least she’s trying. It’s better than stumbling on the toys that so often litter the path to the bedroom, the middle of the kitchen, and every other spot that they are not supposed to be.
When my aunt Margie visited a few months ago, she quickly saw our constant plight: a disaster of toys spread all over the house at the end of the day, with tired, hungry girls who had no desire or incentive to pick them up.
And she suggested the same method she’d used years ago for my four little cousins: five-minute pick-up and “the gobble box.”
At random times throughout the day, she’d announce it was time for five-minute pick-up. She’d set the timer and the kids would race to pick up their toys. And when the timer went off? Anything that was left not picked up went into “the gobble box.”
The kids would have a chance to redeem items from the gobble box at a later date—if they did some special extra chore, or if they got everything picked up and cleaned up without asking. But sometimes, she used the toys’ landing in the gobble box as an easy way to get rid of them without the children noticing. (At this point in the conversation, my cousin Jennifer recalled that she still had that box labeled “Gobble Box” in her closet, only it was storing some of her own belongings now.)
Aunt Margie pointed out that when instituting five-minute pick-up, it’s most effective if a few things actually do get gobbled. It also helps if sometimes Mama pitches in and helps pick things up quickly and neatly, to show them how to do it. And, naturally, the children will eventually learn to pick up the toys most important to them first (giving you a chance to purge those items that are frequently left not picked up!).
We’re still trying to balance having the girls learn to pick up with speed versus putting things away where they go. Throwing all the toys in the nearest basket doesn’t necessarily equate picking up. But it’s a start. (And superior to tripping on the toys!)
The FlyLady calls it a Five-Minute Room Rescue. Aunt Margie calls it Five-Minute Pickup. Theirs was the Gobble Box. Ours is the Gobble Basket. We’re still perfecting the method, but the important thing is getting the toys picked up and put away at multiple times throughout the day instead of in one long session of tired tears right before bedtime.
What are the rules for picking up toys at your house?