Before I had children I had no idea how many toys I would accumulate. By the time my daughter was two years old we had enough toys to fill an entire room, which when you think about it is pretty crazy. From baby shower gifts to birthday parties to Christmases to other parents who wanted to get rid of their own toy collections and were so nice to pass them onto me, the toys just kept coming in. At one point I put half the toys in a box just to see if they were missed and my daughter never even batted an eye. It was then that I decided to donate.
So here’s the 1st step:
1) When someone gets your child a new toy, an old toy makes an exit, this is a great learning opportunity for your kids too. A person really only needs so much stuff. This applies to adults too!
Another organizing challenge for parents is to get your children to actually put toys away. I know what you’re thinking but it is possible. It is not always easy but if you keep at it kids will learn and they will learn to put things away. In order to simplify this for them here is step number two and three.
2) The toys that you do intend to keep must be stored in containers that the kids can easily reach. The 12 bin bucket organizer seen in many kids rooms and playrooms is a great option.
3) The containers must be clearly labelled so kids know where toys go. I love the idea of labelling with pictures instead of words for kids that don’t know how to read yet. Color coding when kids are older is also a good option.
This goes hand in hand with number two and three but step number four is,
4) Teach your kids to put things away after they are finished playing with them. Motivating your kids to put things away can be fun with games like Simon Says. Simon Says put the Barbie in the Barbie bucket for example or who can clean up the fastest!
Inevitably children will drag toys everywhere in the house EXCEPT the play room. So here is step number five.
5) At the end of the day, spend five minutes with your child to return toys to their home. Something that often works with my daughter is telling her, “You don’t want your other toys to be lonely do you, they’ll be so sad?”
Another option is to have toy bins in each room so that at least toys aren’t strewn everywhere in the house but I find that this doesn’t really solve the main issue, which is to go through and see how many toys you have and what can be tossed, sold or donated to charity. This brings me to step number six.
6) Before you buy your child a toy consider whether they really need it? Is it just going to make space in the bottom of their toy box in a few days or will they actually play with it for a long time.
And on that note here is step number seven.
7) If your child has a birthday or another celebration coming up, why not suggest activities like a zoo membership or swimming lessons in place of the traditional toy. Sports are great exercise for our i-generation and activities that you can do as a family are memories that will last a lifetime and get the parents moving too!
If you are reading all this and thinking, this is a whole lot of work! Here’s something to consider. Some people are naturally more organized but for most of us organization is a learned trait. Why not give the gift of organization to your children so that when they are adults they don’t need to hire someone like myself to come in and organize for them. You know the old saying, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.”
Here’s to teaching your kids how to fish!!!