Phew, we made it through Black Friday, but gift giving season is just getting started. In your house, this might mean that it looks like the Target Gift Catalog is being shot for 2019 the minute the gifts are torn into. I’m talking dozens and dozens of new play sets with 1000’s of little pieces that are strewn across your living room. Don’t worry, I’ll be joining you next year as we have twins on the way.
With that in mind, I wanted to address some ways to tame the toys without being a scrooge. I enlisted a few moms to help tackle this beast and the tips were amazing!
Toy organization is a different animal compared to general home organization. Toys can range from a thousand tiny pieces to over-sized and oddly shaped, but I promise you, there is hope. By creating a solid foundation, installing creative organization systems and taking the time to keep things organized, you can slay this giant.
Before your toy organization journey begins, take the first step and declutter. Just like every other space in your home, do not waste energy organizing items you aren’t keeping. Toys that need to be tossed, stored or donated tend to fall into three categories: broken; not age appropriate; or no longer align with your toy values.
Broken. Remove anything that is broken beyond repair. I come across Barbies with missing body parts and books with mystery stains at nearly every home I organize and this is NORMAL. However, that doesn’t mean they need to hang around cluttering up your space.
Not Age Appropriate. Toys have a way of entering our lives through well-meaning friends and grandparents. My friend was recently gifted a Lite Bright, even though her one-year-old is still a few years away from not swallowing the pegs. I always suggest storing these types of toys in plastic tubs until your tot is ready for them. Side note: based on your child’s age, it is also completely reasonable to reduce the number of pieces in a set (i.e. one does not need 100 Mega Bloks at two-years-old).
Toy Values. As your child grows, you grow too! Toss toys that do not evoke an ounce of imagination, if it is annoying or offensive (anything that beeps, really) or came out of a Happy Meal.
Clever organization hacks are all over the place - some of my fellow organizers have taught me a thing or two. A few of my favorites, include:
Clear Containers. Containers have a way of keeping everything contained! They also keep pieces from going missing and extend the life of your toys. I suggest the InterDesign Clarity Hat Boxes and The Our Shoe Box Case of 5.
Specialty Organizers. Getting toys tucked away at the end of the night is a wonderful way to start fresh in the morning. There are countless affordable options for furniture and organizational systems that help you reduce visual clutter. Cube storage, giant baskets or specialty toy organizers keep toys enclosed.
Play Area. Toys often have themes. Keeping your play kitchen next to your play food will go a long way to keeping your children entertained much longer. We do not all have the space for a playroom, but keeping toys in a designated play area (like their bedroom), helps keep your entire home from turning into a “designated” play area.
You have eliminated the unnecessary and you have it all cleverly organized, but your biggest battle is yet to come: keeping it organized. My three best tips include: creating a routine around cleaning, maintaining a toy library and sticking to daily touchpoints for getting toys picked up.
Routine. Every night at 7 pm (or whenever suits you) have your significant other take the kids to a cozy corner for a little reading. Put your headphones on, light a candle, and throw on a podcast. I bet if you move quick and have at least one of the systems above in place, you can get everything back to its original location in 30 minutes or less.
Toy Library. A toy library (or really high shelves) helps reduce the number of toys that come out at one time. In the morning, let the kids choose their toys from the “toy library” and as the day wears on and toys have been played with, they can be put away and a new toy can be “checked out.”
Home Reset. After lunch or after dinner is a great time to do a home reset. Set a timer for 5-minutes and get your kids in on the action of getting everything put away.