. Organizing Toys
Organizing toys, just like most other overwhelming home manager projects, can best be simplified and comprehended by identifying the different types of toys in your home. For myself, I categorize toys into three major kinds:
1) Furniture-type toys. These are large, not easily confined anywhere, and tend to look messy whenever they are out because children don’t leave anything neat, squared in a room, or upright. These toys also include bikes, plastic “play houses”, rocking horses, and anything else, indoors or outdoors, that is large and bulky. They are best stored by having a “home” where they are put as the house or yard is cleaned up. I have found that lines made of duct tape or painted on the floor of the garage help children “park” their bikes easily, and specific areas in their bedrooms where the other large toys belong, helps a child to know when he is done cleaning up.
2) Medium-sized toys. These toys scatter through the day but are easily confined to copy paper boxes, large plastic containers, or shelving. However, for the most part, children tend to have too many of these toys out, which means that there always seems to be a mess.
For that reason, I suggest you send most of these toys “on vacation”. Make up seven containers. Label each with the names of exotic places. I like Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Memphis, San Francisco, Baltimore, Chicago, and Atlanta. Divide the medium-sized toys into these seven boxes. The children are allowed to get out and play with one box of toys at a time. When they are done with “Chicago’s” toys and have cleaned them up, they are given any other box of toys they desire. Remember, always have children clean up their own mess. The smaller the messes to clean up, the more readily they will obey. This is true even if they clean up more frequently during the day.
3) Tiny toys. These are the bits and pieces of a larger “toy” and include legos, doll clothes and accessories, Lincoln logs, puzzles and any other “toy” that is made up of small pieces of various sizes and shapes. These are best confined to ziploc bags if there are fewer pieces, which are labeled for ease of storage and relocating.
When the pieces become too massive for ziploc storage, I suggest that they be located on the center of a twin bedsheet. When the children are done playing with the toys, pick up each corner of the sheet, pull up, and deposit into a large produce box (found at local grocery stores) or clear plastic container. The drawing up of the corners of the sheet automatically cleans up the toys as long as the children have kept the pieces confined to the area of the sheet. Again, the children clean up one mess before they are allowed to get out any other toys.
Because I use standardized boxes, wall bookshelves, and clear plastic containers for my toys, I can line them up along the children’s bedroom wall. When they want something out, they ask, I retrieve, and they play. When they clean up, I inspect, I put away the box or container, and they choose another. I am very involved in their “play” when they are young, but as they grow more mature, they simply come ask permission to clean up, put away, and get out another toy. The house never is very messy because it is never allowed to get that way.
I hope these ideas help. There are many good library books to peruse or home improvement store books to purchase which will give you innovative ideas to decoratively store these treasures. Remember: Divide, confine, and conquer!
Find more helpful ideas in the House of Order Handbook.
Photo from sxc.hu. Used with permission.