As the holidays approach, it is time to evaluate the current inventory of your children’s toys and “stuff”. Children grow up fast and outgrow toys quickly. If there is a younger sibling to consider, that is another issue. Try to find a small pocket of time that you can sit with them and sort the toys into, 1-toys to donate, 2 – toys to keep, 3 – toys/things they don’t really play with, but want to keep as memorabilia.
Another option is for you to do the sorting. Then have them look at the piles you have created using the same guidelines as above. Be sure to emphasize that “we can’t keep everything Honey.” OR “Can we put that in a special box that you can still keep, but it isn’t with the everyday toys”?
Once the inventory is sorted, sort them using tried and true organizing principles. Put like things together. Stack the board games separate from puzzles. But don’t stack them too high. If they want the bottom game, they aren’t going to have success pulling it out from a 20” stack. Your stack should be 12-15” at the most. It is difficult to shelve odd shaped toys or possibly their K’nex or Lego creations, but find a special place for those to prevent crushing them.
The cube storage system, found at many stores, helps to store and sort toys more easily. They allow for a small collection of items. Children tend to have a lot of small things so this keeps them together. Labeling is important for clean-up time. Label with words and pictures. These cubes can also be used without bins. You can put books in the cube as well. A small collection of books in several cubes may be easier to maintain than a long collection on a couple of shelves. The cubes can also be used to house one toy that is a little bulky.
Toy boxes are nice to corral toys, but they tend to overflow quickly and small things tend to get lost in the bottom. You can restrict the toy box to bigger toys, but it’s difficult for children to determine what goes where, unless it is labeled.
Many adults claim they were not brought up in an organized environment so they never learned the skills involved. Not everyone is wired that way so it may take a little more work for some. But teaching your children some of these skills will help them through life when they are dealing with everyday life and not just their toys. They need to have a certain amount of responsibility for putting things away. But they will not succeed if the “homes” for things are not outlined for them. They also need to clean up their messes. Yes, it is easier to do it yourself sometimes, but they at least need to make the effort and you can tweak when they aren’t around. Set a timer when it is clean up time. That way the timer is the “meanie” not the parent. Some timers show a visual reduction in time which is good for children and people with ADD.
Children’s toys and things need to be constantly reevaluated. They tend to have more things come in than go out. You have to make a task of sorting more than you would like so your house doesn’t begin to look like a daycare center.