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This past weekend, I finally snapped. I couldn’t take it anymore. They were everywhere and taking over the living room and my sanity. What could make this mama lose her mind like this? Toys. So. Many. Toys.
Anyone who has ever been around children knows that they come with a lot of “stuff.” I was shocked when Little Miss was born and I looked around at all that we had accumulated. And that was before she even played! Over the last 16 months, we’ve gone from rattles and play gyms to tents, tunnels and stuffed animals that sing.
I’ve noticed that as the kids get bigger, so do the toys. That’s a problem for those of us living in small houses. We don’t have a playroom, so the living room is the playroom. It was already jam packed with a couch, love seat and TV. Now we’ve added in Little Miss’s toys and it feels a little bit claustrophobic in there.
I had visions of trying to straighten up the toys each evening before bed to give myself some semblance of calm, but in reality, this is what the living room looked like. I’m not proud of it, but it is what it is and looking at this picture strengthens my resolve to never let it get back to this kind of mess again.
So without further adieu, let’s get those toys organized!
Step 1: Gather ALL the Toys
This weekend we sent Little Miss to spend the day being spoiled by her grandparents and we tackled the Bermuda Triangle of toys. I emptied out the shelf we had been attempting to use to store her toys and books. To get a better picture of what you are working with, bring in the toys from your child’s bedroom (and wherever else in the house he or she has carried them) and put all of the them in a pile in the middle of the living room.
Step 2: Sort the Toys
Next, begin sorting them. The first thing we did was put all of the pieces together. For example, all of the contents of her picnic basket, farm set and all of her blocks were scattered from sea to shining sea, so we made sure they were all together. I ended up with six piles: books, stuffed toys, small toys, medium toys, big toys and toys that are too young for Little Miss these days. Your piles might be different, but find what works for you.
Then I sifted out some of the random things that had gotten mixed up with her toys like a pair of socks, a couple of bibs and a stray birthday card. Toss broken toys or spare pieces that you aren’t sure what they belong to.
Now it’s time to store it all. I pulled out 5 fabric baskets that went in the shelf and started filling them. My master plan is for her to use one basket per day and I’ll just rotate through the baskets so she doesn’t get tired of the toys in them. Dole out books, stuffed toys and small toys first. Then go through the medium-sized toys and figure out what else will fit in the baskets on top of what is already in them. I was pretty excited that almost all of our medium-sized toys fit in the baskets. The extras got moved to her bedroom.
Next you will want to figure out where to put the now-organized toys in your living room or play room. I got the baskets put back onto the shelf and found a couple of spots to store her tunnel, drum and blocks. The Mister had a great idea to put the other big stuff (other than the rocking horse) inside of the tent unless Little Miss is playing with them. I love having them out of the way, and a happy bonus is that the flaps of the tent close, so if we don’t want to see all of the toys shoved inside of it, we can just close the flaps.
Step 3: Get Rid of “Too Little” Toys
After all of her current toys were taken care of, it was time to pack up everything that is too small for her and no longer developmentally appropriate. We probably could have left the activity table out, and might get it back out later, but the batteries were dead and she hasn’t really played with it much lately, so it got the boot for now. I’m also not really sure why the Boppy was still out. I think mostly it’s because I was in denial that I no longer needed it to feed Little Miss bottles anymore. Sigh.
We got all of the too little toys packed up into a plastic tub and they’re ready to store until God blesses us with another baby someday. If you’re done having kids (or you’re just sick of certain things), then pack this pile up for a garage sale or to donate. Or give them to friends that have little kids that might enjoy them.
Step 4: Bask in the Calmness of Organization
Can I tell you how much better I felt immediately after cleaning up that mess? It’s amazing really. Our living room felt like a living room again and we actually had company over and weren’t embarrassed by the toy store explosion in the room. I also didn’t have to rush around like a crazy person trying to clean before they came over.
Another benefit that I really wasn’t expecting, is that Little Miss has been playing much better by herself the last couple of days. She used to be really good at playing independently. I could leave her to herself (of course I’m always where I can keep an eye on her) and she would look at books or play for a good 15-20 minutes at a time. Lately, she hadn’t been doing that and I wasn’t sure if it was just a developmental thing where she wanted me to play with her more or if I had ruined her by caving and letting her watch a little TV. I think her problem was that she had too many options and now that she only has a few toys to choose from, she’s able to focus on them.
I’m thrilled with how our toy organization has gone and I’m determined to keep up with changing out her baskets every day. I know that sorting the toys and storing too little toys will have to happen a few times a year, especially around Christmas and her birthday. But it is nice to know that I have a system in place and a plan for keeping the toys at bay.
How do you organize your child’s toys? Leave a comment and let’s chat!