Practical Tips for Organization
Blocks and dolls and cars, Oh My! Here are some ideas on how to tame the toy-nado.
Take a critical look at your stock of toys. Are there toys that are broken? Are there a bunch of cheap happy meal type toys that your kids never play with? Are there toys that YOU hate because they are annoying? Do you have more of a certain kind of toy than any kid will ever need? (I’m looking at you stuffed animals.) Have your children outgrown some of the toys? Don’t be afraid to throw away or give away toys. Purge the toys while your child is sleeping to avoid the tears or pleas of “I still play with that”.
Make old toys new again by setting up a toy rotation system. Sort your toys into boxes you can rotate in and out. You may want to do this seasonally or by type. For example, the winter box will have your best indoor toys like blocks or legos, puzzles, or a tea party set. Toys that will keep your child entertained when they are stuck indoors. Your summer box will have fun outdoor toys like plastic digging tools, bubble wands and solution, and sidewalk chalk. Have one set of toys out at a time. Store the others where your child can’t get them out. When you rotate the boxes, the toys will seem new again. As a bonus, there will be fewer toys to pick up at any given time!
Location, Location, Location!
Where do the toys live when your child is not playing with them? Toys need to have a permanent home if you don’t want a toy-nado. Here are some tips for choosing a home for your toy stash.
Toy Central: Choose one place that all the toys live if you can. Having a central location for toys prevents confusion about where the toys go. Toy central should be near where your children play most often.
Toy Sorting: Instead of having one giant toy box that is really more of a toy abyss, sort toys into several smaller boxes by type. One box for cars. One box for dolls. One for blocks or legos. Label the boxes with words and/or pictures. Some veteran moms recommend that these toy bins/boxes have lids. That way the kids are less likely to dump out every box making a toy mountain. Allow your kids to get out only one or two boxes at a time. Kids are much better about picking up toys when they have a smaller pile.
Kid-sized: Put the toys in a place that kids can reach and boxes that kids can lift. Also consider how many toys to put in each box. A 5 year old can handle playing with and putting away more toys than a 2 year old.
Schedule toy clean up times throughout the day. At my house, we always pick our toys before we do the next thing – before lunch time, before snack time, before nap time, before bedtime.
Communicate with your relatives about gifts. Grandparents and other relatives may want to shower your child with toys and other gifts. It can get out of hand quickly. Let your relatives know what kind (and amount) of toys might be appropriate for your child. Suggest that they give experiences rather than toys to cut down on the sheer volume of toys entering your house. Things like play date gift certificates with grandma or a family membership to places like the zoo or the children’s museum are ideas. Always graciously accept any gift even if your suggestions have fallen on deaf ears, but give yourself to permission to donate toys at any time to children who can use them.
Do a toy purge just before or after birthdays and major holidays. If you can’t fit the new toys in your storage space, then some old toys need to go.