by: Sandra Beck
Contain the clutter. Of course toys will be used in areas of the home other than just the kids’ bedrooms, family room, or toy room, however, these other areas of the home should be thought of as off-limits when it comes to storing toys there. Part of the bedtime routine should be to remove toys from the living room, dining room, and so on. Make it an unacceptable practice to leave toys strewn about.
Or, keep bins and baskets in these rooms, and toys should be put in there when not in use. The bottom line is that things should not be left spread out in one room or over all areas of the home. You wouldn’t think of leaving your car parked in the middle of the street overnight; so too, children can learn that things need to be put where they belong when no longer in use.
Teach your child that each toy or groups of toys needs a home. When they go to put toys away, they need to put it in its “home.” This will help children to keep toys in their place.
These bins and baskets do not need to be expensive and you don’t need a professional that will come in and design a closet system for you. Plastic totes are usually available at any store and are usually very affordable. Shoes boxes can be painted or papered and used. Make it a craft project for the child and he or she will be more likely to use the container. Dollar stores usually have bins and baskets as well – laundry baskets, food storage containers, and desk organizers can work just as well for your child’s toys.
Make it easy for them. By using bins and cubbyholes that are easily accessible to the child, you can encourage him or her to do their share in keeping things organized. Don’t think that your child’s room needs to look like a showcase – wooden pegs on the wall and a nice stack of plastic bins may not be your idea of a model room, but can be much easier for a child to use when it’s time to hang up clothes, put toys away, and so on.
Label these bins and hooks so they know what goes where. If they’re too young to read, use pictures. Many families have a digital camera and a printer, so take a quick photo of the toy, jacket, or whatever. You can cut a picture of a train from a magazine and use that for where your child will store the train set, or cut out the front of the box the toy came in.
Organize like with like. Try to keep similar things organized together. So, one bin for stuffed animals, another for sports stuff, another for video games, and so on. This also makes it easier when they want to play with a certain toy – they know right where the video games are or their train set, and so on.
Purge at Christmas and birthdays. You might take the time a few days before these occasions to have the child go through his or her room and pick some things they want to get rid of, to make room for new things. Knowing that they’ll soon be getting presents makes this purge much easier on them.
Go for quality. With the many dollar stores that have sprung up in recent years, it’s become so tempting for parents to constantly buy their children small and cheap toys. Instead of getting them a huge pile of cheap junk, go for quality toys or possessions that will last long. It’s best to spend your money on a couple of great things than a whole bunch of cheap things that will break and be relegated to the junk pile in no time.
Downsize your possessions. And of course the best tip when it comes to organizing is to own less! The less things you own, the easier it is to organize. It’s tempting to give in every time your child wants a new toy, gadget, or piece of sporting equipment, but you do need to show some balance. Wanting to give to your children is commendable, but not having limits is damaging to you and to them. Be selective, and teach your children to do the same.