F*@%!!!! – Stepped on any toys recently? From Mega blocks to Barbie dolls. Death Legos and Hardened Play-doh. Kitchen Accessories mixed with Race Cars. Puzzle Pieces sprinkled on top of Hatchimals. Maybe Monopoly pieces smushed into some Stuffed Teddies? Let’s bring “Mom where’s my Spiderman??? I can’t find him anywhere!! I need it now!! Where did it go?!” to the party with “Please Dad can you find the cat with the stripes but not the whiskers that has the tail and not with the bow!?” *don’t forget the large order of tantrums* How about Mysterious Slime stuck to just about everything you own!! (Rubbing alcohol works for getting that out of clothes by the way)
Our apartment has gone through many layout transformations to fit our family’s needs. When we had our first child, he had his own toy bin. That toy bin then evolved into the 4 bottom cubes of an IKEA Kallax unit. By the time we had our second child, and our place went through two to three more layout changes, we had two Kallax units beside each other and the kids had the 8 bottom cubes for easy access. Actually now that I look back at it, I’m sure they had almost, if not all 16 squares occupied with something kid friendly. Building blocks, puzzles, coloring books, crayons, stuffed animals, reading books, bits and bobs have all made the living room floor their home at the end of every play period. Also in the living room was the toy kitchen, an IKEA green tent (currently under recall if you have any at home), and a matching tunnel folded away.
As the kids got older, they began picking favorites and arguing over what belongs to whom. Once they were in separate rooms the toys were divided and out of the living room. At this point things were categorized mainly by his and hers and still in large quantities.
These large quantities proved day after day to be frustrating for both the kids and us parents.
- In order for them to find exactly what they wanted to play with, they had to dig through everything they have. I’ve witnessed this to be both overstimulating and overwhelming when searching for that one toy, or at clean-up time. It’s also kind of annoying for us parents to be searching through everything for them.
- Once they’ve made this giant mess while searching for the desired toy(s), they now have all the toys they don’t want to play with taking up the space that’s meant for playing.
Imagine how overwhelmed and frustrated you as a parent would feel looking at the mountain of toys. Now, imagine a child faced with the same scene. They’re having the same feelings, but lacking the resolve an adult has.
Our daughter enjoyed having her own room where she could lay out her Barbie dream house and princess slippers for the morning, with her bed made to perfection. She also loved to have all of her stuffed animals “tucked in”. Our son liked having his clothes thrown about his bed with dried play-doh, legos and rock collections all over the floor.
Though they both liked the idea of separate rooms, our two kiddos insisted on having company through most nights and would travel to our bed. It has been easier to have them share a room again for sleep company, which once again means a shared toy space as well. But this time I’ve come up with a solution!
Through major de-cluttering and simplifying objects in our home (cue Marie Kondo), I’ve been able to assign a home for just about every item. As a family of 5 this can be really hard, and with 2 kids who have different interests it’s like playing tetris to fit their toys and clothes in their room. My solution has been to use categorized storage bins/containers. It makes it easy to find what they’re looking for, and easy to clean up afterwards. Let’s get in to how:
I didn’t want to spend any extra money so I used what I could find around the house. Since the entire house has been de-cluttered, there are storage bins, bags, and containers in abundance just waiting to be used.
Every toy or stuffed animal that didn’t belong to baby boy was put on the floor and sorted into categories. There were conditions for the toys being kept: No part or parts were broken, I’ve seen them play with it recently, it was age appropriate, it was part of a significant set. Some toys were donated, some thrown out, some were put into a storage bin for future use by our infant.
Toys that made the cut were put into their own storage container of appropriate size and put on the top shelf of the closet. There’s a toy purchasing ban only being lifted for birthdays or Christmas. Also, if anything new comes in at anytime aside from us purchasing it then something old will be swapped out.
What’s left will last them until they graduate elementary school I’m sure! The kids each have a small box to put un-categorized special toys or cherished items i.e. Hatchimals, accessories, Pokemon cards, tokens.
Categories we have in case you want ideas: Barbies + accessories, superhero’s, wheels, Lego, mega blocks, animals, people, happy meal toys, kitchen food + accessories. Stuffed animals/teddies have their own giant cloth bin which is stored on a short, slender bookcase in the closet. A toy trunk remains out for over-sized cars or towers that don’t fit in the top shelf.
Clothes / Bed sheets
Wardrobes have been minimized (about 5 each per type). Out of season stuff has been packed away in a storage bin in the hallway closet. Anything that doesn’t fit has been donated. Shirts and pants are hung up on a clothing rack at their height with colored hangers indicating what belongs to whom. They each have one bin for sleeping/indoor clothes, and underwear while they share a bin for socks.
We have a storage box at the top of their closet for bed sheets and extra blankets.
They each have one row from a slim bookshelf in the closet. Every so often we revisit the contents and donate some of the ones they have lost interest in. New books replace old ones they have also lost interest in.
With these new methods of management, their room chaos and toy explosions have been minimized. As long as things are put back in its place after being used then there’s order. This is not always the case on busy days, but clean up time is quicker and easier for everyone. The kids are able to maintain their independence by taking care of their clothing bin plus hanging up their own clothes on laundry days, and putting away exactly what they asked to be taken out.
“From now on you must take good care of your toys, because if you don’t, we’ll find out, Sid. We toys can see everything! So play nice!” –Woody in ‘Toy Story‘
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