the living room basket

Since my kids could walk, I have tried to enforce cleaning up after themselves. When you're done playing with something, put it away. If you dump toys on the floor, put them back in the basket. The reason I do this is more than just not wanting to clean up after my children. They are learning responsibility. They are learning housekeeping skills, which they will need as adults. They have to learn to clean up after themselves eventually, and I believe it's best to start these habits early!

We started by cleaning up toys together. They would spend the day dragging toys from their bedroom to the living room to play, and leave them all there. Before bathtime, I would give "jobs" to each boy, one at a time.

For example, "Nate, I have a job for you: take the big firetruck to your room and put it away. Ben, I have a job for you: take Elmo to your room and put him away." They loved it when I said, "I have a job for you." It made them feel like they were doing something important. When they were very young, "putting things away" usually meant stacking them all up in one corner (and Ben went through a phase where everything was put away in the laundry basket), but as they got older, they learned the right places to put things. I always try to keep my expectations in line with their ability.

However, sometimes we miss things. Sometimes we run out of time, come home late, or otherwise just don't get around to cleaning up. I am determined not to clean up for them, but I also would like to have a floor vacant of toys. I don't want to have to step on things just because Nate and Ben didn't clean up. What's a mom to do?

Enter the living room basket.

I keep a big basket in one corner of the living room, or under the coffee table, or beside the couch. Anything the boys failed to pick up before going to bed (or these days, before school) goes into the basket. I get to enjoy my clean floor, and they get to put everything away when they wake up (or come home, as the case may be).

linking up with Tues Talk and Let's Be Friends.


  1. This is a fantastic idea. I did something similar when my children were younger and had baskets on our stairs. Each night when they went to bed they had to empty the basket. Now that they are teenagers we have sadly stopped this. However,after reading your post I am thinking about starting it back up again. Have a wonderfully blessed day.

  2. That is a great idea! And I especially like how you said you keep your expectations in line with their ages. We do the same thing at our house. I've been adding in there: "I need you to be a big helper in our family" which I stole from Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood. Haha. They love knowing they're an important part of the family! Thanks for linking up with us for Tuesday Talk again! -Jess

    1. The first season of Super Why, there was a Goldilocks episode, and they sang/chanted "Clean up, clean up, let's clean up!" We used that a lot after we saw that one. I think it reminds them that even TV kids have to help, so they're in good company. :)


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