Our poor daughter is blessed with the messy gene. She comes by it naturally, I am a messy child myself and my husband comes from a line of hoarders too long to list. It's tough stuff for little people. The mess becomes so large in their room so quickly that it's near impossible for them to tackle it by themselves and don't even start to factor in emotional attachment that prevents the complete removal of stuff from their life.
Well, my beloved husband, Joel, did a thorough cleaning of Hannah's room this past Christmas break while he was off from work. It was beautiful. He did a great job.
I went back in there today and it was you guessed it, not safe for human habitation. Stuff everywhere! So as a Valentine's present, I decided to clean her room. We also rearranged, but that's not nearly as important as my bright idea. I was done picking out all the trash and toys that were beyond broken or had no reason to be with us other than the fact that we can point to them and mention that they come free with the artery busters when the doctor tells us about our cholesterol levels being out of control. At that point the light bulb went off.
Me: "Hannah, you have two minutes to pick up the toys you want to play with in the next month."
H: "How long?"
Me: "Two minutes, no one minute and put them in that corner right over there"
H: "No, two minutes"
Me: "Okay, start....NOW"
Flurry of little person tripping over still enormous amount of play material searching for what she wants. with occasional questions of how much time left and helpful toy suggestions from me.
Me:"Great JOB! Times up. Now I'm going to put the rest of these toys away for a month. I'm not giving them away, just putting them away for a month. And here's the best part, now you know you can clean your room in two minutes!"
H: "BUT I WANT MY PRINCESS SHOES!"
As she walked out, I threw them into the two minute pile and stuffed the rest in a huge mess bag and cleared the room.
That's my bright idea. She can manage cleaning for two minutes and I can deal with the stuff in a bag in some room in my house. If at the end of two months she doesn't ask for anything in there, it goes into deep storage and then I find it when we move one day and think "Why do I have this random bag of old toys?"
And I would suggest if you have older children, to lengthen the time, but I wouldn't go much over ten minutes, because really who wants to clean up their toys that long?
PS She loves her clean room and is in there right now dancing and jumping around, talking about how she can't wait to show her Papi how clean it is.