I remember when my first child was a baby. We had a few little toys for him. We had a bookcase in his room with the few little toys on it. He got older. The toys became more plentiful. The bookcase was over run. We bought a toy box. The toy box fit in his room and it was so easy to keep the toys in order and controlled. There was no clutter around the house. It was great. Time went on. There came to be more and more toys. We had a second child. We built a playroom by finishing our basement. It was great. There were shelves and all the toys were so neat and organized. Time passed. The toys became more plentiful. Now we had boy toys and girl toys. We had baby toys and toddler toys. We had baby #3. The toys became more plentiful. Now we recently had baby #6. The toys are very plentiful!
So what can you do to keep toys organized in your home? Is it a losing battle? Do you just throw in the towel and give up while there are children in your household? Here are some tips for keeping the toys under control!
1. If you have basement, that just might be the perfect space to get toys out of your other more commonly used living space. If its not finished living space right now you can semi finish it for not too much money. Buying large rugs or even a piece of carpet and loose laying it rather than installing it is an easy fix for floor comfort. Buy portable shelving units available at many stores or buy brackets and wood to create shelving. Of course if you have the money, finishing the space with drywall etc is preferred, but for a quick and easy fix, this works great.
2. If toys are currently kept in your main living areas of your home, like the family room or living room, move them to the children's bedrooms if you don't have the option of using space elsewhere as a dedicated playroom. When there are toys flung about everything instantly looks messy. If you get drop by company you are constantly apologizing for the condition of your home. You can't sit and have a conversation or watch tv or read in your living room because the children are playing too loud or there are toys all over your furniture. Sending the toys to the bedrooms where they are less likely to be seen by guests or in your way helps keep you happy.
3. Use plastic storage bins. They come in all sizes and designs. All shapes and colors. Its a great way to pack thigns up and away and keep things lookign neat. Each puzzle can go into a shoe size box. The big race track set in a large tote box. They stack, they line up well. They just keep things neat.
4. If you have a lot of toys but are short on space, consider rotating tthings. Every week put out a few different types of toys out where they can be played with. At the end of the week, pack those away, and put out new toys from your toys stash. The currently unused stash can be stored anywhere, attic, basement, garage just somewhere out of the way. This will keep things interesting and new for your children but also keep things from being overly cluttered and unorganized.
5. Regualry go through and inspect the toys. If they are broken get rid of them. Toys that just sit around because they are no longer usable take up a lot of space.
6. When your children out grow toys, get rid of them or pack them away if you think you will have use for them at a later time. Don't just let toys that are not getting used sit there. Make space for something else. This, of course, is much trickier if you have a larger family, like me. There are children at many age levels and toy levels. If you have one or two children close in age, however, its much easier to accomplish!
7. Don't go overboard with gifts. Some parents buy buy buy for every birthday, Christmas and other gift giving occasions. The result is lots and lots of stuff! If you want to spend a lot of money...that's your prerogative...but consider buying one or two bigger ticket items rather than bunches and bunches of less expensive stuff. You will have less to keep organized that way.
8. Teach your children to clean up after themselves. Make sure you have your children pick up one thing before getting another out. Many toys being out at once creates a big disorganized mess. It looks bad. Its also harder to clean up. You can't just scoop up all the mess and put it in its bin and be done. You have to pick up each piece individually and decide where it goes. Often pieces and parts end up in the wrong spot. Later they can not be found and the toy may not even be able to be played with since pieces are missing. Its just much easier to clean up one thing before getting anything else out.
9. Set up a clean up time at the end of every day. Sometime before pajama time. Some time before bath time. Some time before snack time or story time or bedtime. Make this an all out pick it all up and have it perfect clean up! Everything gets put away. Now if they were picking up one thing before getting another out during the day, this will be much easier. But even still, with pretty good clean up s going on throughout the day, children are apt to leave this and that behind. Now is the time to get it all cleaned up! I like to call it "vacuumable clean!" yes, nothing left out so that a vacuum can easily be ran through!
10. Look for the new Hot Wheels Wall Tracks. They let your child race Hot Wheels not on the floor but on the wall! Its a great way to keep the mess off the floor and its something new and exciting for the kids as well! Its also a great way to keep the baby from getting into the toys your child is playing with. I know my children would love that too! You can check them out here http://www.hotwheels.com/walltracks
Clutter and disorganization drive me crazy. Its a good thing there are ways to keep from being over run by the toy clutter!
“I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hot Wheels® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.