Managing Toys | Minimal Motherhood
Managing Toy Storage
Creating space for intentional play, peaked imaginations and harmony at home
The "I'll never have toys everywhere" promise we each made while expecting. The "not in my house" responses to photos of legos strewn throughout. The amount of baby gear that comes with tiny bundles that we were told we needed by registry lists storming the internet. The "prizes" that trickle home from a quick trip to Target. It takes less than we're told and very little work to keep harmony in the home when it comes to their things. Yes, even with littles. With very little work, you can reclaim your home and create a newfound interest in old toys from your little ones, keeping everyone a bit happier than the cluttered day before. It takes constant awareness in the beginning to become second nature, but before long it will be part of your home's routine and natural for you and your children. The most surprising part of it all will be the intentional play that your children gain from the process. They will want for less and enjoy what they have more. Clutter clouds their brains even more than ours as adults. More choices, less maturity to make them quickly. Minimizing choices with less allows them to make a selection with confidence, and lowers the distractions around them as they play. The same rings even more true for babies. A playpen full of every toy they own may seem like a good option, but instead it can overstimulate and create a fussy baby.
Think things are too far gone? They're not! Fall is the best time to get a grasp on the clutter before the Christmas toys and extras begin to pour in. If your toy areas are in overflow mode, simply grab three containers and a large trash bag and use nap time to do some sorting before organizing. One bin for "keeps", one for "donate", one for "rotate" and trash for trash (because we all know there will be trash in there). Dump it all out (they do it, you should get a shot too) and begin sorting. Rotating toys is perfect for toys that you aren't ready to let go of, but your children may be growing tired of in this season. We recently tucked our train tracks and trains away in the rotate bin. When they come back out of hiding, my boys will play with them like Christmas morning all over again at their "newness". Think of items like that as you go through the clutter and donate things that they've outgrown or no longer find interest in. If they're old enough, have conversations with them about donating and allow them to help by selecting a few items for another child. This is the perfect occasion to teach them the value in blessing others. The keep bin is perfect for things that may have been hiding or out of site, but that your children will enjoy in the season. Remember that everything in the "keep" bin will be easily accessible and will need a place to dwell, so be careful to use the rotate bin if you find them too sentimental or valuable to part with just yet.
Once you're finished sorting, find a safe place to store your "rotate" bin. Here, we use our garage, but if you are short on space in the attic or shed, think outside the box. We stored a rotate bin at my parent's house a few miles away while selling our home. Even try narrow bins under the bed if you get desperate. The key is to be out of site of the children and out of their little minds for a bit.
Finished? Wondering how many vacations worth of toys you just cleared? Well, now you're down to the Keep pile and can begin finding each toy their new homes. We have been in homes with and without an area for toys, but try and keep with this routine regardless of our circumstances. Sliding bins for under beds, baskets in nearly every room, books and quiet activities in appropriate spaces. Everything has a place. Pinterest is full of beautiful examples and you can find baskets that work in your space at stores like Home goods, thrift shops, and amazon to name a few. Remember the toy's purpose and keep it in a room where it can be enjoyed most and start enjoying. You're finished after this step and not only have you been generous to others, but you've created an environment that your children can thrive in as they play (and you will be doing a lot less cleaning each night before bed).
Lastly, what about those larger items? The toy kitchen or the Doll house. These are where you can integrate them into spaces out in the open. Use them as decor in your childrens' rooms, or if yours would never sleep with toys around like mine, find a niche or small wall in your home where they can be displayed neatly as a play area. Keep in mind that while they're large items, they are of no more value than the others if they are never enjoyed. Rotate them or donate if you think that they are simply taking up space.
If you make it here, you're finished! I guarantee you will discover that your children are capable of much more imaginative play without the extra clutter and you can enjoy watching them find new interest in toys that were tucked deep away under the clutter just a day ago.
How do you keep the peace when it comes to toys? Next up we'll talk more about how we gift toys to our children and others as well as ways to minimize bringing too much into our new/ clutter free space.