Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Mad Bag: Making my life easier one toy at a time

This is my mad bag. Not sure why I call it that, except that my mother called it that when we were young. What, you ask, is a mad bag exactly? It is the place where all the stuff that doesn't get put away goes. And let me tell you, my mad bag is currently bulging with such stuff: Bria's jumprope, which is her favorite item as of late, nearly every Barbie in the house, a shoe, some clothes, several books, 2 or 3 ponies, lots of Barbie and other doll clothes, jewelry, Littlest Pet Shop animals and the list goes on. And on.

I haven't brought the mad bag out for a few years. But lately, I've been going crazy cleaning up all the toys that are strewn all over the house. I just decided I'm not doing it anymore. We had a Family Home Evening a couple weeks ago and I made them sign a contract, which is currently hanging up in their bedroom. There are several items on it, each with an attached consequence, all signed and approved by Bria and Chloe themselves.

So, I give them a time limit (and it's usually very generous) and whatever's left out once that timer goes off meets the fate of the mad bag. I've been trying to teach them how much easier it is to clean up if they only have one box of toys out at a time. (Our toys are organized in boxes by type: Ponies, Barbies, Littlest petshops, puzzles, etc.) That way, when you're finished, you just throw them all back in the box, put it away and get the next one out. No overwhelming sorting involved. What an idea. They're slowly getting it now.

I love that instead of feeling like I have to go clean up their messes when they don't follow through, I just bring the bag to the designated area and start throwing things in. While I'm doing this, they try to save every item they can by quickly putting them away.

The other thing I love about the mad bag is that it is the perfect "bribe" to get other chores done. If they successfully put a dish in the dishwasher, clean a mess, put books away, practice the violin or whatever else I ask them to do, they can retrieve one thing out of the bag. The last few days (the mad bag ate a lot this past weekend) they have been asking for jobs to do so they can get their favorite toys back.

And, there's one more thing that I like about this. I can sneakily sort through it while they're asleep or at school and throw stuff away. The stuff I know they don't really care about, but would absolutely protest if they saw me doing it.

Ah, yes. I love my mad bag.
Lara Neves
Lara Neves

Lara is mom to three daughters—two teens and a tween. She loves to share her parenting and homemaking triumphs and failures here at Overstuffed! She was diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2015 and has been fighting it ever since. When she isn't working on her mother of the year award, you can find her reading, singing, or taking photos.


  1. WE have the same thing, but courtesy of Joy School, ours is called a Guney bag... and it also has a song.
    It's huge. I want to get a bucket at Ikea next time I'm there to put the stuff in -- and when it outgrows the bucket, i start throwing stuff away!

  2. Sister, I am WITH YOU! My teen dd has had many a "mad bag," as you call it hauled out of her room filled with clothes that she cannot manage to take care of. I currently have 3 stashed that she is not allowed to have back for a while.

  3. I am loving this idea! I wouldn't, however, love it if my dh decided to do that with all my stuff I left out. . .maybe I should start by being a better example and go from there? HAH! Totally kidding about that one - that's why I'M THE MOM!

    Lovin' it!

  4. HA HA HA HA HA HA...
    I KNEW EXACTLY what that was without reading the blog!!!!!!!!! We must parent a lot alike... that is too funny!!!!!

    Now that my kids are older... I throw everything on their beds... !! Everything.. I even warned them that if they didn't clean their toast crumbs I was throwing them in their beds!!! Mean mama huh????

  5. That sounds so much like me!

    I on occasion bring a mad bag out. But I never called it that. I probably will now though.

    When I bring it out, my kids too run around like crazy and try to save whatever they can. And I cracked up about you throwing things away that were in the bag that you knew they wouldn't miss... Because I'm always going through their stuff and throwing stuff away that they *want* but wouldn't notice if it were gone. Like happy meal toys for instance!

    You go girl!