The toys are one thing I don’t look forward to organizing. Our kids have so much stuff and it seems like the toys take over the house. But about every 6 months, I get so fed up – I work through their entire room cleaning and organizing all of the toys. Once I get into it, I get really excited about it – because I can see the results. But I have to mentally prepare for this mega task each time. You can make this easier on yourself too, here’s what I’ve learned in my 8 years of cleaning up (other people’s) toys.
Stop the small stuff
I read this a few years ago about kid’s meal toys: Did you know McDonald’s produces more toys than some of the big box stores? You don’t need this stuff in your house. About two years ago, my kids stopped getting kids meals – oh, they still want them – but they want them for the toy. Instead, when we do fast food, our kids split a meal. I’d rather spend my fast food budget on food, not throw-away toys. Even if they somehow get one, I toss it (or donate it or recycle it) within 24 hours. The kids don’t really care about the toy, they’re just excited for new things.
I’d also recommend asking for donations to the kid’s college fund instead of toys for kids birthdays. They won’t notice when they’re small and they’ll really appreciate it when they get older.
Regularly assess the other stuff
When the kids spend the night with a friend is often when I decide to tackle the toys. I separate everything into categories and put them in tubs (I love my bins, containers and tubs!). As I’m sorting, I look at every toy. If it’s broken or missing pieces – it gets pitched. If it’s something that has been unused for 6 months, it gets donated. I process everything in the room in a few hours and bag up everything that isn’t staying in the room. If you don’t have a few hours to donate to this project, try cleaning one category at a time. If you can make progress somewhere, you’re still making progress.
Get kids involved
You may have kids that love to help. I don’t. My kids cry with each and every toy that is put in the “leave” pile – it’s their new favorite, of course. I’ve seen my kids play with marker caps for two hours because they’d just “discovered” them. This is a great “do as I say, not as I do” tip. I sneak out their toy give-aways without their knowledge and never speak of them again. If your kids can be involved – ask them what are items that can be donated or ask them if they use the items you’re considering.
Be ready when they ask for missing toys
Today, my youngest son was looking at pictures on my computer as I was organizing my photo storage again. He found an album of pictures he’d taken of favorite toys (that I’d since given away). He cried for a few minutes over these toys he hadn’t touched in a year. My solution? I asked my husband to get out some current toys so that we could distract him – and it worked! We’d given the toys to another smaller boy who would use them, we’ve also donated toys to thrift stores, charity sales and community organizations. I’m hoping soon my kids understand the value of giving to others so they can enjoy things we don’t use any more. But right now, they don’t – so distraction is key.
We have a few keepsakes that I will want to save forever. I’ve got them stored in our kids room on a top shelf. I can see them and enjoy them, but they don’t get broken during playtime or lost during donate time. Find a storage solution that works for you and a good place to keep your items so they remain worth saving.
If you plan time to organize the toys, get the family involved (if you can), and make a plan for your project – you’ll have more success and be more likely to get the job done. Once you get your routine, you’ll be able to keep up with toy organization moving forward.