If there is one thing in the house that used to do my head in, it was toys. I know that toys are an important part of a child’s development; play reduces stress, improves self-expression, supports emotional development, strengthens physical development and much more, but toys can just be so messy and all consuming in a house.
A while ago I worked out that it was me that was causing all my toy grief. There was no one else to blame! My eldest two had a playroom that was filled with sorted boxes. Literally hundreds and hundreds of pieces of toys, games, animals, blocks, dolls, cars, puzzle pieces filled those boxes when the playroom was clean and tidy. When my children were in full fun fest mode, all those toys would be scattered throughout the house in every room they were allowed and usually not in the playroom at all!
I got toy savvy and I’m going to share how I do toys now and how you can get to the point where toys aren’t an overwhelming part of parenthood. The first thing I did to combat the toy clutter was to get rid of the toy room. It is now my office slash sewing room.. Mum’s room in other words!
You need to start by getting messy. When the kids are in bed is the best time to do this! Turn on a podcast and get busy. Tip all the toys out onto a table or bench and sort. Sort it all out! Like goes with like and then into separate containers, baskets or crates.
2. Cull and Purge
Get rid of anything that is broken, dangerous, cheap crap (ie Happy Meal toys) or noisy that you can’t stand (and then preferably give it back to the person who gave it to your child for their birthday!) Bag it up if it is still play-worthy and bring it to an opshop. Go through your books and get rid of any broken or torn books. Sort games and puzzles, making sure they have all the pieces.
3. Ask the question “How much do they need?”
Kids don’t need a lot of play with. They don’t NEED a whole games room FULL of toys. In fact, having a toy room full of toys with your child having access to EVERY toy at ALL times is not that great for their development. It is overwhelming and counter-productive when trying to teach a child to concentrate on things for an extended period of time when they have too much to choose from.
4. Store and Rotate
Once you have sorted the toys, store them away from the play area. (Mine is on a corner of my linen cupboard) Take one or two boxes out at a time and let your child use only those toys to play with. Believe me, this works. Do not buckle to pressure to get more toys out. Keep the boxes out for a week and then rotate to another box or two. (Keep a few favourites out.. for J at the moment it is his matchbox cars
6. Store all messy things up high and out of reach.
Puzzles, games and art equipment gets stored up high. The peg puzzles for toddlers fit perfectly into large ziplock bags. Boxed puzzles do well to have an elastic band wrapped around the box just in case it drops!
7. Steer clear of fads & tv character toys
Fads come and go, as do tv character toys. They are usually over-priced for poor quality and next month there will be another movie or tv show released, with a whole other range of toys that your kids will think they need. Disney are on to a good thing!
8. Keep toys for birthdays and don’t use them as behavioural treats
This is hard to do, especially in today’s materialistic society. Think about this for a second. If every time you go to the shop and go past a toy aisle, you could quite possibly take home a new toy, or component of a set fifty-two times a year. Hmm.. And who is in charge of your wallet? And toys as behavioural rewards? Just no.
Yes, you are in charge of the toys in your house. Not your child! Be firm and you will reap the rewards for years to come.
Tomorrow I will be sharing a few tips my readers shared on Facebook. Some of them are just awesome!
What are your toy sanity saver tips?