As a previous Waldorf kindergarten teacher, my parents were always amazed at how effortless the "tidy up time" went. The children were engaged and happy to put their toys back "home" where they new they would be happy & safe. Sooooo I wanted to show you how I worked my magic.
01 Narrate as You Tidy
As you tidy, explain to your children what you’re doing so they can learn from you. Try to convey that tidying is part of maintaining a comfortable home. If they see their parents tidying regularly with a smile, children will think of tidying as a positive everyday activity. I also sang a song "time to put the toys away" while we tidied up (make up your own tune, it is fun). I would also announce "tidy up time in two minutes" to help those children that had difficulty with transition. I would start humming the song after the 2 minute warning so they stayed focused on the timeframe (this also gave me a bit of a head start on tidying. To make this successful every toy category must have a "home" container, drawer, or shelf.
02 Make Tidying Playful
Show your children that tidying and playing go together. This is why we as the caretaker always tidy with the children. When children are around one-year-old and can begin to walk, encourage them to put their belongings away after play. Those children that had a hard time to transition, I would but on a "tidy king or queen cape on them, to help them move into the "helper" role.
03 Give Everything a Home
Children’s toys seem to multiply and quickly become scattered throughout the house. As I stated early the importance of designating a set location where each of these toys will be kept and make sure your children are aware of where their toys belong. Then they can assist you with putting away their own toys.
04 Respect Spatial Limitations
Once you establish a place for your children’s belongings, you can see the finite space that you have to accommodate new toys – or practical things like wipes and diapers. Recognizing that this space is limited will keep your home from being overtaken by your children’s belongings.