Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Toys, Toys, Everywhere Toys!

With four kids, sometimes I feel like the toys have taken over the house. My two youngest girls share a room, and Bethany and Connor each have their own bedroom. Their bedrooms were really getting out of control with all of their stuff, so earlier this year Chris and converted half of our basement storage area into a playroom for them. That way we could remove a lot of the toys from their personal spaces and consolidate them together in a shared space. So Chris put up some drywall and painted. We bought a couple inexpensive rugs for the floor. And we found a great deal on a huge used shelving unit. The playroom is a big step in the right direction, but keeping toys organized is still a challenge. Here are some tips for keeping the toys under control.

  1. Encourage your kids to donate or sell toys they no longer play with. We have donated quite a bit to our local Salvation Army, as well as a pregnancy aid center for mothers in need. Also, we have a garage sale once or twice a year.
  2. Clean out the playroom and kids' bedrooms while they're not home or distracted with something else. Don't get me wrong, they should definitely help keep their things clean and organized. But sometimes the only way that broken toy is going to make its way to the trash is if it mysteriously disappears when no one is looking.
  3. Utilize all available space. High closet shelves can be used for things that don't come out very often. Under the bed storage containers are great for toys that get played with often, to keep them close at hand and out of the way. Hang baskets from the ceiling for stuffed animals, use wall space for book shelves, and use over the door storage solutions.
  4. Re-purpose what you have. Those storage bins you used to use in your pantry might be perfect for organizing art supplies. Old milk crates can hold dress up clothes. Use your imagination before you throw anything out. If it can hold something somehow, it can surely be used to organize your kids' stuff. 
  5. If you can't buy new stuff for organizing, look for deals on Craig's List and at garage sales. That shelving unit we bought used for the playroom is name brand and solid wood - and we got it for a steal! We also bought a used loft bed for Bethany's bedroom at a bargain basement price, and that has helped tremendously in organizing her space.
  6. Realize that your kids don't need a billion and one toys. Buy your kids meaningful gifts that you know they'll love, and encourage others to do the same. They would rather have one awesome thing that they really want and that will get used often, even though it might cost the same as 10 mediocre toys that will probably be lost under the bed in no time.
  7. Rotate toys. When we get a box of toys out that the kids haven't seen in awhile, they have so much fun! It's like they just got a bunch of new stuff, when really it's just been in a storage box in the basement or in a closet. Use big plastic storage bins and stuff them where you have extra space - the attic, the garage, the basement, or a dark corner of a closet. Every couple months switch them out. 
  8. Keep like things together to make clean up easier. All the trains can go in one box together, actions figures in another, and so on. That way your child can easily put toys back where they go without any confusion.
  9. Establish rules. We have a rule that toys have to be put away before getting something else out. Our kids also need to help each other and work together when cleaning up the toys. What's gonna work? TEAM WORK! That's our cheesy chant when cleaning up. 
  10. Don't put off until tomorrow what can get done today. This is a lot easier said than done. Like all families, we are super busy and often running from one thing to the next. But it makes life so much easier, if the toys are quickly put away now rather than waiting until later. Because when we wait until later, what generally happens is more stuff gets piled on top of the stuff that didn't get put away yesterday, and so on (...and on and on...).
Keeping the toys organized is definitely an ongoing struggle for us. But it feels so good when everything is put away where it should be, and everyone can find what they're looking for! I'd love to hear any tips you have for keeping your kids' toys neatly organized! Please share!

Hot Wheels has a new toy out called Wall Tracks. They look really fun, and they take the tracks to the wall to keep clutter off the floor! 

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hot Wheels® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, please click here.

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