There is no right or wrong way when it comes to storing or organising children’s toys in your home. You have to do what works for you, your family and the space you have. It’s about finding the balance between keeping the toys accessible for the children to play with but organised and out of the way when needed.
Many of my clients, particularly those with younger children, often struggle in what to do with toys and where they should live in the house. Often they tend to end up settling in the central living space as that is where you are and where the children, particularly younger ones, want to be.
Where ever your children play with or store their toys it is important to keep on top their organisation and not just shut the door to the room so you can’t see what is inside at the end of the day.
Here are 6 tips to assist you in dealing with toy clutter in your home:
- Get children to help you put them away – Often it is easier to just spend 5 minutes at the end of the day putting away the toys yourself but my advice is to begin teaching your children from young age to help you. Investing in this time early on by involving them in the process will teach them responsibility and organisation skills that will assist them in life. For younger children you could make it into a fun time with a game by setting a timer and giving them small tasks to complete.Don’t necessarily pick up after each time they play with their toys as you would be doing this all the time. Try though by taking a few minutes at the end of each day and doing this on a regular basis so that it doesn’t become too big a chore and overwhelm you and the family.
- Try and establish a one activity at a time routine – ”you can play with the cars after you put the puzzles back in their home”. Encourage children to put away an activity or set of toys when they are done playing before they start the next activity. This isn’t always going to work but it is worth spending time implementing when children understand the concept. Children often follow similar routines at daycare, kindergarten or school so it is won’t be foreign to them.
- Store toys – ‘like with like’ or ‘same with same’ and make toys easily accessible – where possible it is better to keep toys of a similar nature together rather than having in one large toy box. Generally large toy boxes don’t work very well as toys get mixed up in one big mess, things get lost and often you find children will just tip out all of the contents anyway to find what they are looking for.My advice is to use smaller easier to handle carry containers for storing similar items together. Often clear tubs can work with picture labels for younger children. It is useful for example keep together all the toy cars, or dolls clothes, or blocks, or lego and so on. If you have book shelves or even the cubed bookshelves you can use containers in these to keep toys of a similar nature together.Dress ups are usually great if you can keep them all together in one place and where children can easily get them out as well as put them away.
- Rotate toys on a regular basis – as children seem to have quite a lot of toys these days a rotation system can assist with keeping clutter at bay. Where possible store the surplus toys in containers in a shed or even in a cupboard. This will assist with storage issues in your living space and create new experience for your children when you rotate them around.
- Keeping some toys out of reach – by this I mean keeping those toys that require greater assistance, like art & craft or complex puzzles, in a less accessible space. This won’t suit all of you as I know for some families like to have their children access all varieties of activities at all times where as others like to control the use of these things. You need to find what works best for you and your family.
- Regularly sort through toys – it is a good idea to periodically go through your children’s toys to see what items might need:
* throwing out
* donating or handing on as they are no longer used or age appropriate.
A good time to go through this process might be prior to a birthday or before Christmas. Depending upon the age of your child you might like to involve them in the decision making process too. If you are donating items ask around in your local community as often kindergartens, schools, medical rooms, or children’s hospitals will be very grateful to receive toys that are in reasonable and workable condition.
Finally let me leave you with a final thought if I may – I remember the days when we had toys everywhere in our living space and I often thought this is never going to end. Well it does and my advice is to try and enjoy this period of time in your life as before you know it they will be older and no longer want to play with toys.
Please use these tips to assist you with staying on top of toy clutter so the toys don’t control your house but you control them!
Published in Kids Magazine – Issue 21 – April 2015