A wise Montessori teacher once told me to think about how I feel when I go to a restaurant and the number of menu choices is overwhelming. It’s much easier and simpler when there are fewer things to choose from. Similarly, your children may feel overwhelmed when they have a giant playroom full of toys on every shelf. They don’t even know where to start, so they end up taking out a bunch of things at once and making a big mess. Limiting your children’s choices can make them more comfortable and happy in their playtime and reduce clutter. Here are some ways to manage your kids’ toys:
Rotate their toys periodically.
You can have a couple of boxes stored out of sight where you keep toys they have not been interested in for a while. You can switch out the toys as often as you like; something like every other month is great. It’s really fun for kids to see things with fresh eyes and appreciate their toys all over again. And if they don’t appreciate these items when they haven’t seen them for a while, that is a clue that you should donate those toys.
Don’t buy so many toys in general.
Kids today have way too many toys. We see this very often in our work with clients. Make sure you’re not being too indulgent in buying things when there is no occasion for it or no achievement to associate with a reward. Remember that people generally appreciate things more when they have had to wait or work for them.
Go through the toys with your child before birthdays and holidays. Behave as if you have limited space for the toys and you have to get rid of the old to make room for the new.
Avoid toys with lots of pieces and parts. For several years, I had to negotiate the rent of my home from the Lego people that populated it and outnumbered us. We had Legos out the proverbial wazoo. It may be unavoidable but do think about this when you are buying something like a big animal zoo play set. There may be a less-clutter-prone alternative!
Here are some general guidelines for organizing toys:
Do not use a big gaping toy box. This is very overwhelming and makes things difficult to find. Often these get dumped out altogether or rooted through! Better to use several smaller containers and group toys by type if possible. The fabric drawers and Cubeicals from ClosetMaid are perfect!Shop cube storage
Most toys are not well-stored in the original boxes they came in from the store. With a few exceptions, these boxes are designed to ship and sell the toys, not store them. It’s usually better to cut a picture of the toy off the box and use clear tape to attach it to a new container.
Use pictures for labeling if kids do not read yet. A combination of words and pictures is ideal. It’s easy to find pictures of your toys on Google Images, or just cut them off the original box as described above.
Keep things at their level. For safety reasons and for ease of use, make sure you look at the room from “kid level” and optimize the storage for them.
Use baskets throughout the house to collect strays. Keep a medium-sized basket near the door in each room to collect the toys, and regularly take these baskets back to a centralized toy storage area like a playroom.
Simple solutions and fewer choices for the kids mean less cleanup time and more quality time. It’s worth investing your time to manage the toys instead of letting the toy mess manage you.Organize your playroom