We live in a small house, and we can’t afford to let the toys get out of control. Here’s a look at my system. I hope it can help!
It’s easy. It happens behind your back. While you were keeping tabs on family, laundry, and dishes, the toys multiplied, and now your house is eaten by a blob of kiddie clutter.
Instead of scoop-shoveling the toys every night or crisis cleaning every time company comes, pick up all those toys just once.
Preferably perform this task while little ones are napping or hanging out with their grandma.
Set a timer for 15-20 minutes. Sort the toys into these categorical piles:
3. Loved/Keeping for Years
If the timer goes off before you’re done, just stop, pour a cup of coffee, and get off your feet for a minute. Enjoy drinking that whole cup while it’s still hot. Then get up!
Set the timer again repeat until you’ve gone through all of the toys.
Pull out those trash bags and empty diaper boxes you have hanging around and fill them up with your sorted toys.
Take the trash out. Bye!
Bag up the giveaway toys and haul them out to the car. The next time you go by a charity shop or thrift store, drop them off.
Fill the diaper boxes with the beloved toys. Keep one or two of these boxes out to play with. Stow the rest of the boxes out of the kids’ sight. If they seem to be bored and think getting into trouble is more fun than their toys, pack those toys up and swap them out with a “new” box out of storage. They love rediscovering their familiar favorites!
I try to keep toys restricted to blocks, books, balls, dolls, and trucks, with only a handful of special toys in the mix.
With a small batch of toys out at a time:
- Children learn to share, trade, and wait. Instead of everyone constantly distracted, they learn to deal with one another.
- A few beloved toys will be better cared for than a mountain of mediocre stuff.
- The few, basic toys leave more room for imagination and creativity.
- A two-year-old can run around and pick up every toy in a few minutes. Make it a game! Without a monstrosity staring them down, kids don’t feel helpless when it’s time to clean up.
- Adults gain a foothold of sanity. You still step on Legos, but you don’t have to wade through random knee-deep junk every day.
To maintain this system, you have to be very picky about what comes into your home. Don’t buy a toy unless it can fulfill a particular need. Request books and movies for their birthdays, instead of a floor-full of fancy toys that will be unloved in a month.
When you switch boxes of toys, reassess whether these things are worth the space you’ve relinquished to them. Would someone else love it better? Do we really have room for this? Could it serve a better purpose as profit for charity, rather than clutter in you home? Is this just trash? Or do your kids really love and use it?
I have bought only two toys this past year. The first was a jumpoline for the toddler. With our new life cooped up with premature twins and avoiding the crowds in cold season, she was bouncing off the walls. So I got her something new to bounce on, instead! The little jumpoline is now useful for all three kids, and will be handy during blizzards or other cases of cabin fever. The second toy was a box of second-hand mega blocks. It has been some nine months since I brought those home, and the kids have played with those things every day since. We sure got our money’s worth!
These are all the toys I have loose in the house right now. My big helper loves picking up so I can vacuum. She is capable of handling this moderate pile all by herself! We can be company ready in minutes. The freedom!
Does this post give you any inspiration? Have any ideas or examples of your own? Leave a comment!