How to Declutter Your Home: Tips for Decluttering and Organizing Toys & Kids' Playthings
Organizing Toys Before They Take Over Your Home
Walk into any home with active children uninvited and you’ll notice one thing: it’ll seem like a toy bomb went off. At least, that’s often how it is at my house. While I am endlessly working on clean-up-as-you-go skills with my pre-schooler, it just hasn’t stuck yet in his energetic little head. It doesn’t help that when he actually does try to clean up after himself, his curious baby sister is right behind him, undoing the good he accomplished.
I pondered on my blog what to do about this toy mess debacle. I reflected how my house had gone from a clean, organized home with only two adults to a home with two adults and two children. Back when we were just a happily married couple, gift-giving holidays were welcomed. Now I fear them. People seem to think it’s hilarious to give gifts of multiple parts to little children.
I'm going to share some of my toy organization tips here along with some really great toy organizers for your home. I'll also give you some ideas about what to do with gently used toys and anything extra you have around that takes up space.
Various Toy OrganizersClick thumbnail to view full-size
How to Organize Kids' Toys
What to do, what to do. I decided to tackle the problem head on, organizing the toys when the kids were napping. Here’s my process and how it has worked for me.
1. Separate the toys into categories. For me, this wasn’t too bad. I gathered several empty diaper boxes and collected toys in each room. Laundry baskets work well for this too. Vehicles in one box, plush/stuffed animals in another, toys with multiple parts/accessories (i.e. Noah’s Ark, toolbox, Mega Bloks, Lego Duplo blocks, etc), plastic animals/figures, pretend kitchen toys, baby toys, etc.
2. Separate the categories. I went through each individual box and did another level of separation. From the vehicle box, I took out all of the Matchbox cars and put them in a storage container. I put all of the Disney Cars vehicles in another box. The larger trucks and cars were given ‘parking spots’ in a part of our “loud room”.
3. Find places for each group of the smaller categories. Toys were given a home. Blocks, trains and tracks, cars, and Lego Duplo blocks were given a place in a hanging organizer in the closet. Stuffed and plush toys went to either my son’s or daughter’s bedrooms. Baby toys were put in the pack-and-play (which is always up in our living room). Play kitchen accessories went in the Sesame Street kitchen.
4. Rotate toys. I chose toys that would stay out and some that would be put away. Every few weeks, toys would go through a rotation. Old toys become 'new' again, over and over.
5. Show children toy placement and establish rules. This one, I hope, gets better with the age of my kids. I showed my son where I put everything and explained how each item now had a home to go back to when he’s done playing. Rule was that after he was done playing with something, he puts it back where it belongs. Of course, this rule works when I am in the same room as he and I can remind him, but when I’m doing laundry or washing dishes, he tends to forget, plus the younglings take out all toys all at once and can’t grasp the concept of clean-up-as-you-go. At least it’s a start
6. Scheduled cleanups, three times a day. I ask my son (and the baby, but you know) to clean everything up three times a day: before naptime, before Daddy gets home, and before bedtime. That way there are three times a day when I can smile and say “Ah, now that’s a clean, organized house”, and the house is re-organized once more before more toys are taken out.
Organizing the toys like this once a month or once every two months will help keep your living spaces clutter free. It will also help your kids learn some responsibility and respect for their toys.
Donate or Sell Unwanted Toys
Do you have any extra or unused toys? Donate them! If it hasn't been used in a while, try to find a new home for it. Often, a children's wing in a hospital, a police station, the Salvation Army, local preschools or churches will take gently used toys.
No place to donate? Try selling gently used toys in good condition on eBay, Craigslist, at a consignment shop, or at a yard sale.
Example of a Clean-Up in My Home
As I write, the ‘before Daddy gets home’ cleanup is underway. My son is finding all the toys out on the floor and putting them in their respective places. I’m giving directions as he completes his task, making sure to mention to the baby that her big brother is trying to clean up. She just giggles and proceeds to take things out anyway. But wait! He tells her, “No, no! We are trying to cleanup. Here’s where this toy goes."
Ah. That’s my little organizing genius!
Keeping Up With Toy Organization
It's important to keep up with toy organization. If you let it go too long, there will be toys everywhere and it will just look messy all the time. Make sure to enlist the help of your children (as much as possible) when you're separating the toys into categories. Stick to the rule cleaning up as they go.
Keep in mind, as I am sure you know, the toys will keep accumulating. Before every birthday or gift giving holiday, evaluate the situation. Are there toys that are no longer being used? Are there toys with broken or missing parts? Take the time to sort through the ‘old’ toys before the new toys arrive.
You could also do what I do when I know gifts will be given: pray for clothes.
How often do you organize the toys in your home?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
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© 2011 Marissa