If you’re a parent you’ve probably realized that toy organization is a constant challenge. It’s a task that requires conscious effort thanks to toddlers with short attention spans. Toy clean-up still causes a good bit of stress in our home, but with a few strategic storage decisions we’ve been able to keep things more organized and have cut down on a lot of anxiety for the whole family. Here are some ways that we have tamed the clutter on toddler and baby toys:
Weed out the toys that are never used
Observe the toys your children play with over the course of a week. Are there toys they never even touch? Is it because they’re disinterested or they’re too difficult to get to? It’s so easy to fall prey to the “more is more” mind of thinking, but when it comes to toys the opposite is often true. The fewer toys they have the longer they will focus on each particular toy because many of the distractions have been eliminated. When there are too many options available my son flits about from toy to toy, sometimes spending no more than 10 seconds with a particular toy before abandoning it for something else. He’s so distracted that he never truly plays, so we’ve learned that we need to eliminate distractions for him. We try to only keep out the things he loves and then rotate the rest.
If you rotate toys monthly the toys seem like they’re new again and they will be more excited to play with them! It takes some effort and you have to have a place to store the unused toys, but it’s a great way to reinstate interest in some particular toys that they may not have gravitated toward lately.
Keep sets together
At the end of the day it’s really easy to toss everything in the toy box just to get stuff out of the way, but if you take a couple minutes to put things in their proper places it can really make a difference. For example, if I don’t do this I’ll find my 2 year old will trying to play with his wooden train tracks but he can’t find any of his trains because they got buried at the bottom of his cars. Or the body of Mr. Potato Head is at the top of the toy box but all of his limbs are nowhere to be found. What use is that? It is so important to keep sets together even if it does add some extra time to clean up.
Sort like objects
My son’s number one interest is vehicles. He loves cars and construction vehicles more than anything else and they are always what he wants to play with as soon as he wakes up. We make sure to group like objects so that he knows where to find things, and that has cut down on a bit of drama when he’s playing. Vehicles go with vehicles in a storage box, all of the train set goes together in another one, blocks stay together in a basket, etc.
Puzzles were the bane of my existence for a while because they’re tough to store and it’s easy to lose pieces, but then I discovered a new way to organize them. I now place each one in a clear poly envelope with a string tie closure (find them at an office supply store). Then I store them upright in a metal file holder. All of the puzzle pieces stay in place and we’re easily able to see all of our options. Storing them this was has been a game changer because we no longer lose pieces!
Clean up at night
We try to clean up with the kids, but when that doesn’t happen before bedtime I’m often tempted to just leave everything out because I’m so exhausted by the end of the day. Thankfully my husband is much tidier than I am so he makes sure we tackle it. And you know what? Having a clean and tidy space in the evenings and in the morning sets the stage for a more restful night and a more peaceful start to the day.
Storing baby and toddler toys requires some effort but once you get a good system it can make things more enjoyable for the whole family. Just find what works for you and stick with it!