Meet PETE, The Toy Monster!
My favorite parenting experts, Linda and Richard Eyre, shared how to finally get kids to clean up their toys! After being fed up with the kids' messes, Richard said the following in his article,
"Then one day a neighbor who knew how frustrated I (Richard) was with my messy kids gave me the best preschool method ever. He told me to get a big laundry bag and draw or sew a "face" on it, with the drawstring opening as the mouth. Introduce "Gunny Bag" to the kids, and tell them that he lives in the top of the hall closet and sometimes (you never know when) comes down and EATS any toys and clothes that are left out. Then he comes back on Saturday morning and "regurgitates" the stuff.
We liked the idea. The whole process was explained in a family meeting, and we all agreed that if their toys or clothes got "eaten" again the next week, their stuff would make someones day at the Deseret Industries.
So I (Linda) got out the sewing machine and sewed some eyes and a nose on a laundry bag. When we introduced Gunny Bag, the kids formed an immediate love-hate relationship. They loved the fun of scrambling to put their things away, but they hated that he might eat their stuff.
The change was wonderful. We could come home and instead of the old pattern of getting angry and lecturing the kids about neatness and spending a half hour supervising their forced cleanup, we now had a fun, new pattern where one of us, standing amidst a sea of left-out toys and clothes, put a cupped hand behind one of our ears and proclaimed, "I think I hear some scratching in the closet. I think Gunny Bag is coming,"
I loved the idea and decided to make one just for fun. I picked up a laundry bag at the Dollar Tree and cinched it closed. I pulled out some scrap fabric in white and black (actually the white fabric was a cloth napkin that has never been used...imagine that! My kids probably don't even know what a cloth napkin is!)
I turned a drinking glass over and drew two circles on the fabric with a pencil. Cut them out, and used fray check around the edges. I cut out two smaller black circles and did the same. Then, with fabric glue, I glued the black circles to the white ones and then stitched them on the laundry bag. You could probably use fabric glue to adhere them to the bag. (just be sure to put something behind the holes until the glue dries).
For the teeth, I cut off two corners of the napkin, folded them in half, stitched down the open seam and then sewed them them to the laundry bag.