Lately, on my organizing groups, I’ve seen many posts dealing with toy storage. The suggestions are great. However, I am very bothered by the photos accompanying the articles. What irks me is two-fold. Firstly, the quantity of toys to organize is overwhelming. Secondly, the photo is staged because no children’s room is that immaculate. What is the reality of that room after five minutes of playtime? Most likely, the beautifully coordinated bins are overturned, stuff is everywhere, and the room looks like a tornado hit. So, the questions I have are how long does the clean up take and who is doing the straightening?
I have a fraction of the toys in those photos. Partly by choice, partly by necessity because I live in a small space with many people. After almost 16 years of parenting, I have some Pearls of Wisdom regarding toys:
- Too many toys is overwhelming. Here is an analogy: You are at the ice cream shop. You have 20 flavors of ice cream and many toppings. At least for me, I want everything and can’t decide. Narrow down the selection, it becomes easier to make my decision. There will always be flavors I want and some that don’t interest me at all. Same with toys. If there is too much to choose from, you may hear “I’m bored”, which means they are overwhelmed. Your kids will have their favorites. They will also have things they never touch. Those things they never play with, bless them to someone else. Why keep them?
- Any toy that is broken and can’t be fixed gets thrown out.
- Own classics: wood blocks, train tracks, lego. But… if for some reason your children don’t play with them, no matter if it is a classic, don’t keep it. I loved Lincoln Logs as a kid. My oldest played with them. His younger siblings had no interest. After many years of wishful hoping they would play with them, I passed them on.
- Be wary of sets and add-ons. Barbie will survive if she doesn’t have every thing that comes off the production line, as will your daughter.
- Give limited access. If all toys are in hands reach all the time, they lose their appeal. Rotate toys to avoid boredom.
- Do not “save it for the grandkids”, especially when your oldest is still in elementary school.
- If you can get toys second-hand, it’s a great way to have something new without spending a lot.
- Something in, something out. If you get a new item, get rid of an unused item.
So in answer to my original question, the kids should do the cleaning and it should take 15 minutes or less to tidy up. If this isn’t the scenario, the toys in your home have taken over. Apply my Pearls of Wisdom and see what positive changes result.
The Klutter Koach