If you are a parent, you know or at least once have gone through the toy despair I am talking about. As a parent and as a person, I am very mindful and minimal. We buy toys that are really useful or well-awaited. I try to encourage toys that could be used for a long time and those that encourage imagination as in blocks, doll house, figurines, pretend kits etc. Yet somehow our little girl's collection too is growing and piling up on me.
Add to this books that I actively get her, craft supplies, crayons and knick knacks and gifts - the situation is something that gets easily out of control. That is why the term "the great toy despair". There are some rules I follow actively and deliberately to keep things under check. It is an absolute necessity around here because we have only three rooms and it would stress anyone out if that available tiny bit is cluttered - even with cute toys.
So over to the rules.
Rule 1 - Have system :
Invest in some good storage system. When I say a system, that includes a place to store the toys and also the decisions about who, how and when will the play and "putting them away" part happen. A well thought out plan that considers how much storage you need and how and where you plan to store them helps a ton in keeping things under control.
Rule 2 - Purge :
This is a hard one, at least in our home. With both me and my husband being emotional ones, we have tough time getting rid of the used up and done with toys. But though with a heavy heart I follow this rule from time to time. At the least I would throw away the ones that are broken or with missing parts or not "in vogue" with her for over 3,4 months.
|Our "purge Now" Pile|
Rule 3 - One-In-One-Out :
We try to follow this but as young as she is doesn't work out all the time. But as she gets older I am sure this is a rule that we can definitely impose. When ever a new toy is bought, I ask her and her father which toy are they ready to part with. If she is buying a new one she has to give away one to someone in need ( that means goodwill or donation center ) . The only kind that is exempt from this rule is books.
Rule 4 - Organize :
This one is the easiest and most important of all the rules for me. When everyone knows where exactly the toys should go after use and if putting them away is easy and simple, there is better chance of us actually doing it. Since our little one is young I have an open shelf and baskets and bins. If the kids are older concealed storage will work too. It will be easier for everyone if you can categorize and label them - as all the lego pieces together, mega blocks together so on and so forth.
Our storage system:
We have an open toy shelf that has individual baskets for categorizing. We have had this for past 3 years so Akshara, our little girl now knows where her things are kept. I don't yet insist on arranging them properly, she just needs to collect them and put them back in any basket. End of the day, well most days I empty the baskets and put everything back in the place they belong. ( Confession : Girish, my husband does this most of the times :-) )
In addition to this we have a number of baskets, actually one in each room where I collect random ones she carries around the home. End of each day or mostly when the baskets are full I take them to her room and arrange everything in order. That is our system right now which has been working perfectly so far.
We have a book shelf in her room where most of her books are kept. Ours is an Ikea Expedit shelf that can stand either vertically or horizontally. We chose to keep it horizontal so that her books and other things are visible and accessible to her easily. I do try to keep the shelf pretty and tidy which inspires me to keep it that way and encourages her to notice and use the things on them.
|Our Car garage|
We have a doll house that we are very proud of and which engages her for hours. By happy coincidence it came with a shelf at the bottom, so all doll house accessories are contained there.
We also have a one big basket to contain all the stuffed ones which is the only variety of toy that I don't like. I keep the new additions at bay by not letting the basket fill up and flow out. By that I mean, I get rid of the least favorite ones from time to time. I have trick here to achieve this. When I notice one of them is not seeing much use, I hide it. If she doesn't ask for a month, it goes to the donation pile.
Speaking of donation pile, we have one in the form of a plain box with lid. I just add when ever I find one out of favor and if it is not asked about for a month, I understand we are on the safe side.
I do confess, in spite of all this there are days when the whole place looks run down. But her room is also one that can be easily cleaned, actually in a matter of minutes and reset to its presentable glory.
My point is proper organizing goes a long way. A few hours of thinking, planning and browsing and a few bucks is all you need. Trust me - it is absolutely worth it, because Akshara's room is the most used and abused room in our home yet it is the prettiest.
How do you organize your kids toys and stuff? Do they co-operate? What are your tricks? I would love to hear them.
Do have a happy time purging and organizing,
P.S : More on Akshara's finished room : Here