Have you ever gone into your kid’s bedrooms—or playrooms—and wondered where the floor went? Dolls, Legos, puzzles, hot wheels cars—there are so many toys all over the place that it looks like a typhoon hit the room! Maybe, until that very moment, you never realized how many toys your kids actually had. But this is a great incentive to do something about the clutter and organize your kid’s abundance of toys. You could even get your children to help you!
Arrange into Groups
Separate all of your child’s toys into different categories. For example: dolls, building blocks, action figures, reading items, cooking materials and outdoor toys are just a few good category names. Any accessories—like doll clothes—could be kept with the items so they won’t get lost. Outside toys should be kept in the garage or basement away from the inside toys.
Books, movies or CDs should be stored on accessible shelves in their bedroom or playroom. Why not sort them by age and give each of your children their own shelf? If you and your kids borrow books from your local library, be sure to allocate a shelf for that as well so that the borrowed items don’t get lost or mixed up with the books your kids own.
You should provide shelves, hooks and storage places for your kids to gain access to which will not only make it easy for them to pick up their toys, but encourage them to do so. Start out by buying a toy box or you could convert a big, plastic tote which makes a terrific toy box. The larger toys will fit perfectly in a toy box and allows for simple clean-up by your children.
Stuffed animals and other bulky, but light, objects can be pulled up off of the floor and put into mesh fabric that could be hung on the walls. The toys and animals will be seen but out of the way. To store smaller stuffed animals or dolls, a shoe holder is a clever idea and it can be hung anywhere that your child is able to reach.
Toys that have tiny parts like puzzles, building blocks or Legos may be put away in transparent, plastic bins with lids; if your child is at a reading age, you could also label each bin as to its contents. Likewise, wooden wine racks are terrific storage areas and can be found at any local thrift store or garage sale; many used wine racks are just like new! Use cylinder containers—like a Pringles potato chip can—and fill it with tiny cars or other little items; then place the full cylinders into the wooden wine rack cubbyholes.
If your little ones like to play dress-up chests, old dressers or trunks are wonderful storage for old clothes and accessories. Sift through your own hats, purses and clothes in your closets—maybe there’s something you could throw in the “Dress-up Box”!
For those miscellaneous things that don’t really have a home in any category, utilize wicker or plastic laundry baskets.
What is a toy library, you ask? Well, it’s a toy co-operative that’s a lot like a regular library except that you take out toys instead of books. A toy co-operative buys durable, top-quality, hand-made wooden toys from a senior’s workshop and non-profit agencies for the mentally impaired. There’s a small annual fee that you have to pay to belong to a toy library; when you pay the fee you and your children are allowed to go in and pick out toys such as trucks, games, cars, gorgeous puzzles—there are all kinds of toys to choose from for young kids!
If there isn’t a toy library in your community, maybe you and your neighborhood families could start one. The children will love being able to select and play with new toys every two weeks—and the kids may even get to play with something you might otherwise not have been able to afford to buy for them.
There isn’t a youngster out there that doesn’t like to paint or draw. If you have the space in your child’s playroom, set up an easel so they can let their imagination run wild! But what do you do with all the paints and art supplies when they’re not in use? A bathroom, wall or floor cabinet is a good choice that can be kept or hung in the same area as the easel or in a separate room like the basement or laundry room. If you purchase a wall cabinet, be sure you hang it at a height that can be easily reached by your children. Keep items like colored pencils, crayons, paper, finger paints as well as other art supplies on the enclosed shelves of the cabinet. Inform your children that when they’re done in the art area, you expect them to clean up the mess and all of the items they use to be put back in the cabinet.
Kids need to learn how to properly care for their possessions and you can not only teach them how but be a good example for them by treating your own belongings with care. Just like almost every other item in your home, toys occasionally need to be wiped down with a damp cloth. You should show your children how to do this properly so they won’t ruin their toys.
Always remember, in this case, less is more. Your children will learn to cherish their toys and belongings if they have only a few of them. Set up a frequent “sort and purge” day—maybe once a month or so—and help them go through their toys. Urge your kids to give away to charity the toys they don’t play with or use anymore.
One last thing, if you started teaching your children at an early age to pick up after themselves, chances are they’ll clean their playroom all on their own. But if you haven’t, then now is the time to teach them to pick up their toys and other belongings. It’ll teach them to be responsible as well as how to organize!