Guest post from Alina Joy Dubois
Toys have a way of taking over the house. Stuffed animals breed in closets. You give birth to one sweet little baby and the next thing you know there are toys, toys, everywhere!
Can you relate?
Over the years I have tried so many ways to take the toy clutter and make our house look like a home instead of like the local toy store. The result was always the same. I would spend a couple of hours during naptime organizing and it would look really great for a short while, but soon we were back to a big old toy mess.
Ladies and Gentleman, may I present my solution? [insert drum roll here!] Here’s the toy system we’ve been using for a few months now (and it’s working great)!
First I did something dramatic. I got rid of about 80% of the toys in our house. Anything broken or so cheap it would break soon got tossed. Many of the stuffed animals that came from who-knows-where got donated to our local police station. (The police keep one or two in their trunks and then pass them out to children they meet in the line of duty who need a bit of comfort.) Then, keeping in mind the old adage that “Good is enemy of the Best”, I sorted through the remaining toys and kept only the toys that I thought were the most beneficial. If I wasn’t sure whether or not a toy would be missed, I put it in a box in the shed where I could easily retrieve it if one of the children asked for it.
Next, I made a resolution to not buy new toys for my children. Before you gasp in horror, I promise you… there is no shortage of children’s toys in the world! Toys will find their way into your home without your help through grandparents and well-meaning friends and neighbors! What I mean by this is that we don’t just buy a toy if we happen to be running out to the dollar store. Toys are pre-planned purchases made after careful consideration of whether or not this particular toy adds value to our lives.
Next, I made a rule: No toys in the bedrooms! Bedrooms are meant for sleeping, not playing. (More on this, later!)
The next step was to sort the remaining toys into bins (purchased inexpensively at Walmart) with lids. The lids are key to this system! Lids keep everything separate. Without lids, the toys will be a jumbled mess again in no time! I also made labels out of index cards for each bin that included a word for the children to read and a very simple line drawing to remind anyone putting toys away which toy goes where. The beauty of labels that that even if your children know where the toys go, the labels make it obvious to anyone helping out! So toys always get put away into the correct bin!
Finally, one last rule: One bin at a time! There are a few exceptions to this rule: The cars and roads get played with together, the train tracks and train accessories get played with together. Also, when my daughter wants to play with dolls and the younger boys really want to play with something else, then I allow two bins to come off the shelf at once.
The end result is this:
- The Bedrooms stay clean because there are no toys in there!
- The children can easily see what toys they have and since everything is organized, they don’t get frustrated looking for a particular toy that could be “anywhere”!
- Thanks to the “one bin at a time” rule, the children share and co-operate during their playtime
- Toys always get put away into the correct bin! Clean-up only takes a minute and everything stays orderly!
I am loving this new toy system of ours! Do you have suggestions for keeping the toy-clutter at bay?
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