Seeing the chaos that Christmas left in my house, I vowed to get organized in 2012. With 4-1/2 year old twins and a 2-1/2 year old I know it won’t stay organized for long, but I had to do something for my sanity.
First I had to tackle the toy store that apparently exploded in my house. My kids are extremely blessed with extended family that likes to spoil them, which at Christmas translates to toys, toys and more toys. We live in a moderate home with no playroom and my husband and I like to limit the toys in the living room so we don’t feel that we always live in a toy store. That means all toys must find a home in our children’s individual bedrooms.
I have to say, I LOVE Ikea for toy storage. Their prices aren’t too bad and I can always find something to fit every space. However, you must be handy with a screwdriver because everything comes in a gazillion pieces. Of course similar systems can be found everywhere.
It’s much easier for kids to enjoy (and put away) their toys when they are grouped. I created “centers” in each of their rooms and purchased easy to use storage like the Trofast or Expedit from Ikea. With these units I can group all play food, cars, animals, etc. in one box and they can easily pull it out, play and then put it back before they move on. Since we have no playroom, all like toys are grouped by room. For example – my son has the cars, pirate ships, blocks, musical instruments and tools. My youngest has all the baby doll and kitchen toys. My eldest daughter has all the dress up and animals. My kids bounce from room to room playing. A few things such as art supplies and games/puzzles are in the living room and kitchen since the kids need help with these toys.
After you see what you have and how/where you want everything. Think about how to organize it all so that YOUR KIDS can easily access and clean up the toys. The old giant toy box that I grew up with is not the best thing in the world. I prefer divided storage that allows the kids to pull out like toys at once and easily put them away vs. digging through a bunch of stuff to find the Hot Wheels on the very bottom. Clear boxes/bins in shelves works fantastic for younger kids. You can label or even put pictures of what goes in each box. Don’t feel you have to spend money on shelving and boxes though. If you have younger ones, diaper boxes work great too for storage.
We have a finite amount of space and so if a toy doesn’t have a home, it (or something else) must leave the house. Luckily my son is quite okay with this concept and will periodically come to me with an old toy and say he’s ready to give it to someone else that doesn’t have one. My eldest daughter however, is a bit of a pack rat and so sometimes I tackle this part without her. She’s only four and most of the time, out of site is out of mind with her so if something is missing she doesn’t notice it.
Clean Up Routine
Once you have it all organized, stand back and admire your work. It won’t last long, lol. Unfortunately no matter how you organize, sort, corral, or store toys, they always find their way out. However, if you pick out systems with your kids in mind, it will be easy to maintain. We have a 10 minute clean up routine before bath-time every night. I have an old timer (one that ticks) that I set to 10 minutes. The kids know they are responsible for their own rooms at clean-up time and run to get it done before the timer goes off. I usually bounce from room to room helping out here or there. The constant tick reminds them that it’s time to clean up and keeps them focused on the task. It took a few days to find the correct time. We started with 15 minutes at first but that was too long and so my kids thought they had plenty of time to play and clean-up, but we cut it back to 10 minutes and it has worked perfectly. They know they don’t have time to play now and work fast to get it all done. If they clean up before the timer goes off they get a bedtime story.
I hope this helps you a bit. I know I could breath a little easier with the clutter under control. Stay tuned – next I’m tackling my kitchen!