Have you ever said to your self my kid(s) have too many toys. Have you given up on the toy battle and just have one huge pile of toys in a bin. When your kids go to play with the toy bin they can’t find the pieces to certain sets and you are then called upon to help search. Now not only are they not playing on their own, your spending playing time finding toys to play with. Sound familiar?
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About a year ago we finished the basement in our house because we were having our 3rd child. Our single family home only had two bedrooms besides the master so we needed to build an extra bedroom for our oldest. Our idea to build the basement out was also the idea to build a play area for our kids. Living in the Midwest winters can be brutal so becoming hermits during winter time can happen.
We didn’t always though have the luxury of our single family home. I started as a single mom with a 850 sq ft. apartment with my oldest. We married later and had a two bedroom condo with about 1000 sq ft. I learned though how to manage to conquer the toys early on with little space and quite honestly less is more with toys.
Now that we have a play area in our home and more storage space it can be very easy to “store more” but that’s something that I try my hardest not to do. Clutter gives me anxiety and honestly I want my kids to appreciate what they have and not to grow up thinking more is better.
Into the toy box
Let me start off by saying 80 % of the toys my kids have usually have been gifts from others. Typically those gifts are from Christmas or their birthday’s. So about twice a year we get an influx of new toys. This is what I call check-in time.
Kids can get so excited for new toys and the excitement though is short lived. This is why I implemented the 6 month rule in our home. Every 6 months or so we meaning (I) go through their items to evaluate what gets kept and what goes.
I find it to be the easiest thing to implement during Christmas and Birthday’s. It creates a natural time line that can be stuck too. It’s also a perfect time to approach the kids about old toys since they are excited about the new ones.
How to organize the cluttered toys
When I lived in the apartment with my daughter I quickly discovered for me that a large toy bin was needed since it was the easiest to store in a small space. If there were larger items that didn’t fit it would have a shelf if possible or some other under the bed type space. It was easier with one kid to manage the toys. The six month rule though was always in place.
Having 3 kids now is a bit more tricky. Each child has their own toys on top of the combine toys. It can accumulate quickly if the toys are not visible. So now one toy bin is not exactly ideal and I want to be able to see what the kids have. I have now reverted to clear bins and plastic bags to sort.
Since the remodel of our basement I now have a toy closet. This is wonderful! But if your home doesn’t have this what do you do? With multiple kids and toys the stuff that does get kept needs to go somewhere, right?
The use of the clear bins and plastic bags help me and the kiddos to visually see what toys we have. If you have just one large toy bin things get lost and who knows what the heck ends up in there. The kids can also learn the practice of putting things away in it’s place. In this case the bag/bin it goes in.
I also find it super easy to look at the Ziploc bags the kids have and can just quickly remove the bag when I know it’s an item the kids no longer play with. None of this empty the entire toy box and spend hours on the floor trying to figure what goes to what in order to donate and maybe try to sell at a resale.
The trick is though to teach the kids where things go so they also learn the responsibility to put things away. It also creates a natural way for you to control the play area/room. The up keep of the toy area won’t be so over whelming when you are doing your regular cleaning.
When you have multiple kids and multiple toys I don’t think it’s the best for it to be a free for all when it comes to the toys. I love doing a toy swap. The kids get a revived look at the toys they have and it stimulates new ideas.
Typically this is how this goes. Every couple of months I will take the toys that have been out and I will put them back in their bag/plastic bin. I then replace those toys with new ones. The kids get excited again because it’s like they forget what they have. They also appreciate the toys more in my view.
Even though we have an awesome playroom now. Toys can become non-stimulating if kids can’t use their imagination to create new things. I think it works wonders for their brain development. Toys are and can actually be a good thing.
The toys check out
Implementing these rules in my home have worked wonders for me. The kids have a clean dedicated play area. They, nor I have the craziness of clutter and mess. Clean up is a breeze when it is time to pick up.
The simplified 6 month rule and toy swap help reduce the amount of time I am spending maintaining the home which is awesome. As the kids continue to grow we can teach more value in less is more. I also want the kids to develop a love for giving to others. We can do this when they get a new toy, they learn to donate the old toy to others.
How do you manage your toy clutter? Do you have a favorite bin or storage item. I love new ideas.
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