No matter how much or how little space and stuff you have, with kids around it seems “things” are always left out. A pass through our living space and the kids rooms at night will inevitably find toys, clothing items, paper, and craft supplies left out. Our kids are really good at picking up compared to a lot of kids we have seen, but still stuff seems to find its way onto floors and flat surfaces.
So once you make that nightly pass, what to do with all the stuff you find left out? For us it is time for Stuff Prison! This is a bin where all the left-out items go. In order to “bail” your items out of Stuff Prison you must perform 1 chore not on your regular responsibility chart or that is a regular family expectation. Here’s the trick…the chore is at the discretion of the jailer (Me!). Usually I give the kids their choice of one or two chores that need to be done. Things like cleaning the stove, or washing the windows, that aren’t on their regular chore lists are given as ways to bail their stuff out. Larger items require larger bail, and habitual repeat offenders will be given a “stiffer” penalty (bigger chore).
If an item remains in Stuff Prison for 1 month it will go into a donate bag. If it remains there for another month it will be donated to a worthy cause.
This is a great way to teach economy to kids, as well as offer consequences for leaving things out. This is also a great way to get little nagging chores that never seem to get done completed and keep the house picked up at the same time!