The Shark Ate Your Toys {My Trick for Keeping Things Tidy}


I’m getting to the point where I simply want my house back, and our shark is helping me do this. My kids are 9 (boy) and 6 (boy/girl twins) and it just feels like we are constantly picking up things and moving them around the house. We’ve transitioned from different rooms having different themes of toys when they were little (the living room was make-believe stuff, the family room had some games and music toys, and their rooms had their personal collections).

Now, the shark is helping me get some sanity.

We’ve tried so many systems, from the stair system to the rotating totes to the labeling of smaller bins and shelves. Marie Kondo would absolutely lose it in my house – but that’s why no one is inviting her. Getting my kids to help me create the “rules” for our own system has helped make this work a bit better than anything else has in the past, so let me tell you about our sharks.

I am an avid TJMaxx shopper, and one of the things I picked up was a pair of cloth hamper bags that hang on the wall or a door handle, and they look like a shark with its mouth open wide. As you can imagine, anything that goes into a shark’s mouth DOES NOT COME BACK, so the imagery really is perfect (though I’m sure any bin or bag or whatever could work, too). We have one for clothes and one for toys. And the fun thing is, we all can contribute items to either bag.

So if the kiddos put on some clothes and notice they’re too snug, they drop them in the clothing shark. If they clean up their rooms and find a few things they no longer want, or as Marie says “items that don’t bring us joy,” then they put them in the toy shark. I then clean these out and determine what is a hand-me-down to a cousin or a friend, what maybe could be sold (kiddos love being a part of that, too!) and what can be donated. The sharks help the kiddos have some ownership, too, as they see when the shark is empty or full, and keep me posted. 

The most helpful part of the sharks is the kids know that what goes in doesn’t return, so when I’m noticing the house getting especially out of control, I let them know the shark is hungry and looking for some food. It gives them a heads up that it’s time to do a sweep of the house – as in if I do the sweep with the shark bag, they may lose a thing or two that’s left out or left behind.

I’m not saying our system is perfect, and maybe in some ways it’s a bit dramatic, but for us, it works! Give it a try, even without the bags, or maybe just print off a shark to tape onto a box. My kiddos needed the visual, so maybe you’ll find luck with this plan, too!


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