When she came home and saw what I had done in her cupboard, she said (literally) "Wow mum, that is not the same cupboard... that is Fantastic!" (I didn't know she knew that word). And then she gave me a big hug and said, "You're the best mummy in the world!" Ohhh, that just made it all worth it!
Best of all, she is doing a great job of putting her things away, without any help. She has also been playing dressups and using her dolls clothes, which she hadn't played with in ages.
It's great having the kids take responsibility for their own things (one day their spouses will thank me). Dash and Princess have been tidying their own rooms since Princess was just 3 and Dash was 4. Of course they needed a bit of help to begin with, so the easier I can make it for them to know where things go, the sooner they will be able to manage it themselves.
It's a bit of a mission getting a good system going intially, but it saves lots of nagging and bending later!
I had to invest a little on storage containers, hooks etc, but not heaps. Yesterday I spent $15 on a new dressup-box, $3 on the hanging basket and $12 on Command Hooks. $30 for a whole new and better way of life(!)
The first thing I did was ruthlessly go through their toys and do two things: (1) Throw out broken toys (2) Put aside toys they don't play with.
I involved the kids in this bit, and checked with them what they wanted to keep and what they could let go of (otherwise there'd be tears!)
The kids got given the option of listing their unwanted toys on TradeMe and getting some money for them, or giving them away to needy children. It was a good opportunity to talk about how some kids don't have any toys.
Last year Dash listed his unwanted toys on TradeMe (I did the actual listing, but it was his idea) and he sent the money raised (about $23) to our Tear Fund boy, Innocent. He was very moved by the idea that Innocent didn't have any toys at all. It was great to later receive a photo of Innocent with his new truck that Dash's money had bought.
Recently, Dash and Miss Fab sorted out some toys for a newly arrived refugee family with five children. I think it's fantastic that they want to share what they have with kids who don't have anything.
SORTING AND STORING
I find that if toys are separated into containers of "like" toys, there is much less mess to begin with. This is because the kids can easily find what it is they want to play with, without having to tip out the whole lot e.g. a box just for cars, a box for farm/zoo animals, a box for dolls clothes, a box for teasets etc.
It also means that they can easily see what they actually have and are more likely to play with stuff they forgot they had.
UNDER BED STORAGE
I made use of the space under the beds. This is usually a great dumping ground for mess, but after getting some rollaway containers that were shallow enough to slip under the beds, I gained lots of easily accessible storage space, plus it mostly stops things from being pushed under there and lost. I got the ones in Dash's room from Kmart for about $11 each. He has his train set in one, his cars in another, and blocks in another. Scrag also has one in his room under his cot.
SHELVES IN WARDROBES
In Dash's wardrobe we have put a big shelf that used to take up a whole wall. It's a great space saver, and will also keep his special things safe from Scrag!! On the shelf are books, puzzles & games, plus a TV screen (not hooked up to an aerial, just to the DVD player) and the kids' DVD collection.
In case you're horrified at the idea of a TV in the kids' bedroom, we have strict rules about its use... there's no DVDs after 6pm on week nights. For a special treat on the weekend or school holidays they can sometimes have a DVD night/sleepover on Dash's bunks. Any fuss about the rules will result in us removing the TV from the bedroom. It will never get an aerial attached because we carefully monitor what they watch.
These nifty little fabric hanging baskets are great for keeping all the annoying little things that otherwise just get everywhere. Dash has all his soft toys in his; Miss Fab has her "handbags" & dressup accessories in hers. Because they are see-through, they can easily find what they are looking for. They are colourful and super-cheap from the $1,2,3 Shop ($3 - $5 depending on the size).
Miss Fab also has another hanging shelf for her shoes and dress-up wigs. I put up a row of hooks along the back and on one side of the wardrobe for the dressups that are best hung up - capes and dresses, beads etc.
Hobby boxes are great, cheap ($6-$7) and colourful. In Dash's room his toy animals & movie themed toys are in his, and his shoes in another; Miss Fab has a box for barbies & little toys, one for blocks and one for dolls' clothes. Dress-ups are separated into his'n'hers (they used to be combined when they shared a room) and are in plastic tubs on wheels. Miss Fab's is full of fairy wings and girly princess stuff, Dash has the animal/pirate/superhero stuff.
After I showed the kids where all the different things belong in their newly-organised rooms, then I can just put on the "tidy-up song" and let them go for it!