After your little ones go to bed at night, what do you do? Enjoy a book while sipping some hot tea? Settle down for a mini-binge of the newest Netflix show? Or do you spend a considerable amount of time picking up toys and putting your children’s possessions back in order?
A few months ago, I found myself in a bad cycle. I would spend my evenings cleaning up toys, putting sets of blocks and puzzles back together, and making sure everything was in its place. Every few weeks, I spent a couple of hours doing a deep clean of my four and five-year-old boys’ bedroom. This would often include finding missing toys and reorganizing bins of things put away incorrectly. This chore became more and more irritating as I realized I was taking on all of the responsibility for their things. They were old enough to clean up their toys but didn’t feel the need because I didn’t have that expectation. We needed a change!
After doing some reading, I took the suggestion of a few people in an online minimalism group. The Sunday Box. It has a catchy name and is easy to implement. Best of all, it’s a complete game-changer for teaching kids to take responsibility for their things!
The Sunday Box
The most important part of using The Sunday Box is consistency. If you can commit to sticking to the rules, change will happen very quickly. Before you know it, you will rarely have to clean up any toys!
What You Need
All you need to get started is a large box. It can be cardboard or an extra plastic storage bin in your garage. You can decorate it or leave it plain. Just make sure everyone knows it’s The Sunday Box.
How it Works
Every night after your kids go to bed, go around the house gathering up any items they left out. Put them in the box and put the box somewhere out of the way. We keep ours in the garage, but a closet or corner of a room would work too! The items stay in the box until Sunday afternoon when your children have the opportunity to put their things away correctly. If the kids leave anything in the box or not put away, we donate it.
It was shocking how quickly this worked! After a few months of The Sunday Box, I hardly ever have to put anything in there. We’ve only had to donate two things. The boys have started working very hard to take better care of their toys without any nagging from me.
Tips for Success
Make sure everyone clearly understands the new expectations before getting started. Explain things really well one time. Don’t remind them or use it as a threat. If you’re constantly saying, “If you don’t clean that up, it goes in The Sunday Box,” it will not be effective.
A few times, my boys were surprised a toy they were looking for ended up in the box. The disappointment of missing one of their favorite things for a few days really helped them remember to clean up the next time. As I said before, consistency is the most important thing when it comes to The Sunday Box. Stick with it.
Give It a Try
The Sunday Box is a tool to help us teach our children to take good care of their things. It’s easy to get stuck in “nurturing mode” as moms sometimes. We end up doing our children a disservice by not teaching them to be responsible. They are capable of so much and will rise to meet high, but still age-appropriate, expectations.
Originally published March 2019.
The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.