Toys. I have a love-hate relationship with them. Love-that they teach my children marvelous things, occupy them while I have cup of coffee, and are just all around fun to play with. Hate-that they have the ability to multiply in the blink of an eye and seep into all the rooms of the house. We are lucky to have a basement playroom that houses most of the toys, but it’s a regular mission of mine to keep it under control. Every so often (especially around holidays) I do inventory of the toys and decide if the room is working well for our family. This process consists of three steps: reviewing, sorting, and storing.
For me, sometimes the first step will involve pulling everything out and going through things one by one. Other times, I will just sort through baskets and bins and pull out things that we can get rid of. These are things that are either inappropriate for their ages, are broken, or simply aren’t played with. If I’m on the fence about a specific toy, I put it away in my rotation (more to come on this) and pull it out again later to see how much action it gets. Toys are put in piles to either donate, sell, or trash/recycle (if it’s broken).
Next is the sorting stage. This is simply putting all the stuff that belongs together, together. If you have the space for it, dividing your playroom into zones, is helpful too. Pretend play/dress up in one area, books in another, building toys in a third area. There is a reason preschools divide their classrooms this way. Children play better when they know where to find things, and they put things away better too.
Now, it’s time to store it all. There are many baskets, bins, boxes to choose from but in general children have an out of sight out of mind mentality. For this reason, clear boxes work really well. They can easily see what’s inside. Canvas boxes work really well too if you want to conceal a bit to appear less cluttered. Personally, I do a mix of this as well as putting some toys out visibly on shelves. Large toy boxes sound like a good idea, but they are trouble. This is where toys go to be forgotten. Not only will your child not be able to find that barbie that is somewhere in the bottom of the box, but if you do find her, she will probably be broken. Big boxes are for big toys.
Now, congratulate yourself on a job well done! Sit back and enjoy watching your kids explore, learn, and play.