Toy clutter alert! Do you ever feel like toys are all over your house ALL the time. Sometimes there are just too many toys and sometimes all that’s missing is an organizing strategy to help keep kids’ collections corralled. Today we have 5 tips to conquer kids’ clutter once and for all! Whether it is too many toys or toys without a home, these tips will help you take back control over the toy clutter that seems to be controlling you.
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Exciting Announcement…drum roll please
Are you in the southern California area? Bethany and I are thrilled to attend “Get Organized, an evening with Peter Walsh” hosted by NAPO – LA!
COME JOIN US and talk all things organizing! Mark your calendars for January 18, 2018! You can get your tickets by visiting NAPOLA.org. We can’t wait to see you there!
5 Tips to Conquering kids’ clutter
Before we get started today, I want to be clear, you do not need to take all these tips and implement them today. My goal is that you would find one tip that could solve a current frustration in your home and start there. Tip #1 is for everyone, not just parents.
1. Create a permanent donation box/basket
Kids grow and change so quickly, so be vigilant to clear out items before you are overwhelmed with outgrown clothes and unused toys. Create a place to hold items until you can drop it off to your local charity, pass it down to a friend, store it for the next sibling, or take it to a consignment store.
In Episode 19 Clutter’s Way Station, we went into detail of using holding spots in multiple ways throughout the home, from “items to return,” “projects to work on,” and “lost toys.”
2. Create a place for treasures
Collecting seems to be in kids’ DNA, some more then others. Rocks, knickknacks, cards, etc…all the random stuff kids collect go right into their “treasure” drawer.
In my home, each girl has their own drawer to store whatever little trinkets they would like. Through the years, it has morphed from a shoebox to a drawer in their desk and a shelf, but no matter what you decide will work best for your trinkets, creating a home it is a lifesaver in keeping random toys from being scattered around your home.
Speaking of little trinkets, party favors have about a 24 hour life in my home. The kids have to put them away if they want to keep them or they get trashed. Really, they get put in a jar next to my donations that I pass along to a teacher or Sunday school class that has a treasure box.
If you are curious, we talked more about organizing current art and craft projects along with those keepsake items in Episode 5 on Kids’ Paper.
3. Give Limits
Now that outgrown items and little treasures have a designated spot in your home, it is time to give a home to those everyday toys. As you create a space or designate a toy to a specific container, consider what your limits are. Is this a toy you are going to continue adding to the collection, like Legos or dolls? Or once this container is full, it is time to reevaluate what we have?
For example, I have a shoe-box sized bin for bath toys. I have decided that is a reasonable amount. If we had any more toys it would be hard to clean up at the end of bathtime. Which means, once our bath toy bin is full, it is time to say goodbye to a few items so our bath toys remain manageable.
Limits are so useful in helping you notice when you have too much of a good thing. Treasure drawers, like we talked about in tip 2, keep those treasures in check, just like an overflowing stuffed animal bin shows you, there’s more than you realized.
If you would like to read more about this topic, a great book I recommend is Simplicity Parenting.
lose the lid
When using containers to set limits, I recommend losing the lid for everyday toys. It makes clean up so much easier. When organizing all areas of your home, you want to create the smallest number of steps possible to put things away and this is especially important with kids’ spaces!
I also love labeling! Labels are like little voices whispering to you (and your kids) to put things away where they belong. Even if your little ones can’t read yet, you’ll be surprised at how quickly they’ll learn the first letter of the toy labels.
Declutter with or without kids?
Talking about limits brings up a common question, Should I declutter with or without my kids? I think the answer is simple, YES! With younger children, there are life lessons you are slowly teaching them as they organize like prioritizing, sorting, and generosity.
However, there are many times when it is best to organize on your own without the little ones. Decluttering can be overwhelming for adults and children alike. Often times children aren’t ready or don’t understand a major toy overhaul. As the parent, you know more than anyone what your kids are ready for.
If you are decluttering toys with kids, have them choose their 3 favorites. Put them on the bed or in another room so the child understands their favorite toys are not being given away.
4. Create a “return” container
Designate a basket or bin in your main living space as your “return home” or “put away” basket. If you live in a two story house, you are probably familiar with this technique if you have ever laid anything on the stairs to take up for a later time.
This is especially great for toddlers who have a knack for carrying things around the house. Basket at bottom of stairs/ end of hall -one kids job to take back to rooms
5. Rotate toys
This is not a new concept by any means but it makes such a difference with the amount of toy clutter that can be in your home. Most likely you are do something similar with playdough, paints, or other messy or complicated toys. Just like paint and playdough don’t need to be accessible throughout the day, your children don’t have to have access to all toys all the time. It can even be overwhelming to them.
It is not as complicated as it sounds. For my daughter, I have a bookshelf with 6 cubbies. In her closet I have toys in containers. When I am ready to switch a toy out, I take a toy from her closet and dump it in a basket that fits in her bookshelf and then move whatever was in the basket into the container to put back in the closet.
You can also do a form of toy rotation by putting smaller pieces of big set up and away. For instance, a doll house with the people and furniture out by all the accessories put away for younger children. As children get older of course, those accessories are so fun but with younger children, you only end up with pieces all over the house.
That is one of the reasons I ended up with my lost toy drawer, you can read more about in this post, Common Clutter.
Bonus Tip: Patience
I have one last tip and as Bethany said, it might be the most important tip! Remember that is organizing and even cleaning up is a skill that you are slowly teaching your children over months and even YEARS! It takes time for any new skill to become habit, around 28 days, and even longer to break a bad habit.
Patience and repetition is your best friend as you are teaching your children the life skills to take care of their belongings and cleaning up after themselves. There will be days when it’s a real struggle and then there will be days when you begin to see the benefits of your hard work. Breathe in those good days!
There are a few games to play to make clean up a little more fun. I share my favorites in this post, Team Clean.
How do you stay on top of kids’ clutter? Let us know! Share on social media #atobpodcast, or send us an email Hello @ AtoBpodcast.com. Have a specific question? You can let us know that too!
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