As our kiddos get older it seems that more toys magically keep appearing. From birthdays, holidays, and random trips to the store-there seems to be an endless stream of toys and tiny pieces entering my home. As my youngest child reached a point where the baby toys I had been saving from the first no longer were in play, I started the process of decluttering. It can be such a struggle to make the time to do this, its truly the last thing you want to spend time on. But it MUST be done, or else… the Playroom/toy situation can become a horrendous hurricane of a mess with no end in sight!
The best thing that you can do to regain the order of the play room is to sort all the toys. Here are a few steps to help you get organized.
Sort the toys into these categories: keep, store, donate, or trash. After my youngest turned about two, I started to go though all the toys and got rid of all the cute baby age play items. If you plan to have other children, store them away in Rubbermaid containers and LABEL them! Label, Label, Label! Don’t think you will do it later, because you won’t! As soon as the lid goes on, label them-Keep/Toys/Age: Birth-2(or whatever title is appropriate). After the first sorting process you then move onto step 2.
Sort the sorted toys! Deal with the donate and trash first, I put all of these in trash bags and use a sharpie to label them. The donate bags immediately go into my car that day. Trust me, I have let donate bags sit by the door for a week or more… so just put them in the car right away. Because, when you know you must go to the grocery store later that day or in the week it forces you to make the drop off, ha! With the toys you are going to store-sort, label, and then put away. Now you have plenty of working room in your playroom/toy area for all the toys you are keeping.
When sorting the toys your kiddos will be currently playing with you have to do it how it will best work for your family. I suggest looking online for inspiration for different ideas depending on the space and number of toys you have. For us, we have a small room that is for the kids and all their toys. Investing in some storage shelving has really made organizing the toys a lot easier. Looking online on used furniture sale sites and going to thrift stores is a great place to look to save some money. We then sorted our toys by toy type: all the dinosaurs, Legos, action figures, costumes, Disney characters, and cars each have their own clear box. We use clear plastic boxes, storage containers and baskets to hold the toys. You could even print labels and attach to the bins to take the organization a step further. Check out your kiddos classroom to see how YSA organizes their toys, labels and pictures in every room. This is so doable at home as well!
The most important! Train your kiddos to put stuff away! Once you have your playroom/toy storage system in place, teach your children how to clean up after themselves. My kids usually only take one or two buckets out and then will clean up and move on. Any more than that, it takes them eons to actually clean up. It should not be your job to clean up their mess every time. It can be a frustrating task a first, but it really pays off once they get the hang of it. My 3-year-old can put everything away on his own now and it is amazing! I don’t have to get on my hands and knees crawling all over the place. It is teaching them so much responsibility! But, be consistent. Every time, they are the ones that put the stuff away, even if a buddy comes over. Make sure you are upfront and explain to friends that they will be responsible for helping too.
About every 2 months, I try to get in there and make sure everything is put away correctly and reorganize where it is needed. The kids are responsible for helping during this also. Taking the time to organize and teach your children how to clean up properly really helps take the stress off the playroom chaos. It teaches responsibility and care of their things. They do this at school, so they should totally be able to do it at home! Here’s to not stepping on tiny Legos in the dark ever again!
Lead Prekindergarten Teacher