"Christopher, if you don't pick up your toys I'm going to ...'insert horrible consequence here'..."
We have the same battle at our house numerous times a day. "BOYS PICK UP YOUR TOYS" & soon follow the instant tears & cries of frustration from the kids. Positive reinforcement works with a lot of things, but nothing is quite like the battle of who cleans up the toys. I have seen all sorts of creative ways to get children to pick up their toys, most of which, I have tried & most of which have never worked for us. Finally two boys, hundreds of toys, & almost 5 years later I have come to the conclusion:
I care more about their toys than my kids do.
Seriously, it's true. I bet if you really dig deep & think about it, it might be true for you too. I've really been trying to get mine & my family's priorities straight from everything to finances, the home & even the time we spend. That's when it occurred to me. We are spending way too much time & energy on toys & not enough on things that really matter. Pieces of plastic & wood. Things that are just that...things.
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal --Corinthians 4:18
What we have doesn't really matter, however, where we choose to spend our time does. I couldn't shake the feeling that I really wanted my kids to thoroughly know this. Not to mention my kids are infamous for what I like to call the 'Dump & Run' which consists of them dumping out a bucket, or sometimes even an entire toy box full of toys & running off to go do something else giggling along the way.
So thinking about the above bible verse I decided that toys were no longer going to be the center of our household, our time, or our efforts. We got rid of EVERYTHING except for a set of blocks, a car track, their play kitchen & about 5 other small toys. This was a major breakthrough for us considering to start with, there were three fully packed toy boxes, over 20 stuffed animals, small random toys, & puzzle pieces galore. And you want to hear the craziest part? They were happy about it, mommy on the other hand struggled a bit. I just kept thinking "I paid 20 bucks for that!" or "Well, we haven't even had this one for very long." But you know what? I would rather spend time teaching them to give to others than thinking of ways to get them to consistently clean them up. I want them to know we don't need "things" to have fun, or to spend time on. We can instead spend time on each other, & use our imigainations (which are why we kept the few toys we did) to play. Plus there are no more clean up frustrations which means we can spend more time on the books we kept, or the games we like to play, or learning about God together. & how blessed are we that we have enough "stuff" to give to others? Our cup is overflowing & we didn't even realize it. They understood the lesson though. They gave with joy & greafulness. No tears or screaming, quite the contrary from what we're used to at clean up time.
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. --2 Corinthians 9:7
Thank God for my childrens' giving heart.