Although our house is truly wonderful in almost every way, one downside is that we are really short on storage space for Ella's toys downstairs. Her playroom is very open and so I don't like it to be too cluttered with toys when she's not playing with them. We have a big hall closet that is a built-out space under the stairs (with a very low ceiling), and so we've turned this closet into her toy closet as we don't need very much space for coats, and it's been a great solution to not have toys scattered all over the downstairs.
We are pretty good about getting her to clean up the playroom because she can see the mess, knows it needs to be done, and is reasonably good at cleaning it up. But the closet is a different story because it's an enclosed area, not as easy to clean up, plus she can just shut the door and call it a day. She also piles her toys in there when she's cleaning up her playroom. So, the past several weeks, the closet has been getting messier and messier. I had repeatedly told her we needed to clean it out but she had no desire and really I didn't either, so didn't push the issue.
Well, last week I finally hit my limit when I saw her coming out of the closet while standing on / walking over her toys! We had a big talk about taking care of her toys and I said we were going to clean it out by the end of the weekend. We had a really busy weekend and finally had some free time after dinner on Sunday night. I asked her if she was ready to clean it and she said no; I told her that was fine, but all of the toys in the closet were going to be off-limits until she was ready to clean it out. She said sure and didn't really seem to care.
The next night we were playing in the playroom and she said she needed to get something else and headed over to the closet - I said "are you ready to clean it out so you can play with the toys in there?" You would've thought the door knob was covered in fire because she quickly dropped her hand, did an about-face, and headed right back into the playroom.
Since she has her new swing set, she's been playing outside every day anyway, so after whatever cost-benefit analysis she ran in her head, she decided that for the time being, she could live without all of the toys in her closet. Neither one of us brought it up again all week, she just stopped going to it and seemed perfectly content to play with what was in her playroom and outside.
I was sort of in a predicament because I really wanted to get it cleaned up, but had given her the 'choice' and so I decided I had to stick it out. She has been asking to have a friend come over and play on her new swing set with her, and so we set up a play date on Sunday afternoon for our friends to come over. I reminded Ella on Saturday morning that her toy closet was off-limits and would be for her play date the next day too, unless we cleaned it up first. She said no problem because they were just going to play outside anyway. She played outside for hours on Saturday as happy as can be, with no need for her closet full of toys. Sigh...
Well, I finally got my break. We woke up Sunday morning to a lot of rain and completely gray sky, plus the time change made it darker than usual. She opened up her blinds, looked outside for a few minutes, and asked if Caleb could still come over if it rained. I said of course he could, we'd just have to stay inside instead. She was quiet and I could see the little wheels turning in her head.
During breakfast she said the words that were music to my ears -- "After breakfast we better clean out my toy closet!" And so we did. We got the whole thing cleaned out and cleaned out all the bins in the playroom while we were at it. She lost interest about half-way though and ended up mostly watching me finish it up, but I'll take it. She was really happy with the result and glad to have earned back all of her toys. And I am so glad to have it cleaned out and looking so nice again. All's well that ends well. And thank God for a rainy morning yesterday!