Without an efficient toy-organizing system, your living space will start to look less like a home and more like a McDonald’s PlayPlace. Toy clutter makes vacuuming and straightening up a lot harder. Plus, nothing ruins a morning faster than stepping on a Lego that your kid left out the night before! Get those toys under control with these six simple steps.
Perform a toy inventory. Gather all of your children’s toys into one place. If you think your kids will be tempted to play with their toys during this step, wait until they’re asleep or out of the house. You may be surprised by how many toys you have (those Happy Meals really add up). If a toy hasn’t been played with in the last few months, it’s time to get rid of it! You can donate old toys or, if you’re feeling crafty, upcycle them into a funky lamp. Tip: Getting rid of a treasured toy can be a recipe for tears, so don’t be afraid to put a few favorites into basement storage, instead.
Designate a spot for each toy. If a toy doesn’t have a specific storage place, your children will be much less likely to put it away. Set up multiple toy bins or baskets, and label each bin with a specific theme (i.e. trucks or dolls). If you have a crew of rugrats, give them each their own set of bins! Tip: Small to medium sized bins are best for this because large bins tend to get over packed.
Create a “one activity at a time” rule. Children are easily distracted. Maybe they start out wanting to play with dolls, but then decide to break out the art supplies five minutes later. If your kids don’t clean up one set of toys before moving on to the next, you’ll have some serious toy sprawl on your hands. By getting your kids to clean up as they go, you’ll prevent that “disaster zone” look before it starts.
Create cleanup incentives. If you give kids a reason to clean up their toys, they’ll respond. One simple idea is to keep track of how often they put their toys away properly. If they put everything away for two or three weeks in a row, reward them with a new toy!
Don’t get stuck in the playroom. Lots of kids like to take their toys beyond the playroom and embark on kitchen and bathroom adventures. That’s ok! If your kids don’t like keeping their toys confined to a single space, consider adding some toy storage bins in the rooms they frequent. You can still have designated spots for specific toys – they’ll just be located in the rooms they spend the most time in.