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Adults aren’t the only ones who thrive in an orderly space. Children also thrive in a tidy home. Of course, convincing them of this to take the initiative to put their toys away is a challenge. No matter how many trips you make to the Container Store for storage ideas or how often you watch “clean with me” videos on YouTube for toy organization inspiration, the influx of children’s toys that migrate from one room to another remains a problem. They can step on LEGO bricks and you can threaten to throw away all the misplaced toys, but the result is the same. You end up getting frustrated, the kids are in tears, and the toys are left in a mess. Clearly, a toy organization strategy is needed.
It’s a struggle for even the neatest parent, because running a tidy home is all about routines and systems – and chances are many of the cleaning solutions you offer aren’t designed with you in mind. account of children’s abilities, strengths and tendencies. Not to mention that children’s toys always seem to have a billion parts. It’s definitely a conundrum where to put it all. Whether it’s toys that seep into the living room, a bedroom that looks like a tornado, or an underutilized playroom, these toy organization tips from organizing pros can help you solve the problem. women’s day spoke to a professional organizer and decluttering expert to round up the best toy organizer picks, playroom storage ideas, and kid-friendly cleaning strategies to help maintain long-term cleanliness.
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Drain the overflow.
One of the most common culprits of the disorganized toy area is the amount of play items children have. Between holidays, birthdays, awards for doing well in school, and parents just looking for a reason to cover them in something shiny, the toy hoard is endless. However, if you don’t consistently get rid of toys as new ones arrive, you’re bound to feel overwhelmed when it comes time to clean up. When children (and sometimes adults) get attached to certain toys, it can be hard to get rid of them.
Start small by throwing out toys that are broken, missing parts and no longer age-appropriate, suggests Shannon Johnson, professional organizer and owner of Locate your space.
Decluttering will bring clarity to the space and prepare it for a new system. After a good decluttering, it is important to do an assessment of the space and all the remaining contents. An assessment not only allows you to visibly see the potential of your space, but also helps set clear goals and boundaries once a new system of functional organization is in place, says Johnson.
Purging toys at least twice a year is also key to keeping toys organized and in check. Make it effortless by keeping a labeled donation basket nearby to throw away oversized toys. It’ll be a lot easier once it’s time to get them out of the house and donate them.
Throw away the box.
You might think you’re on to something if you’ve managed to keep the original toy boxes intact for a while, but chances are they’re part of the problem. According to Johnson, it’s only a matter of time before the original packaging becomes more of a hassle than it’s worth.
“Toys often come in boxes that have a lot of extra space. They become worn and torn horrors, and boxes usually don’t go well in organization systems,” she says. Instead, try Store toys and games in individually labeled pockets that take up less space.
Abandon the toy box.
Keeping a big toy box might seem like a good idea at first, but they tend to be one of the biggest causes of clutter and clutter. When creating systems, it’s important to pay attention to different organizational styles, suggests Cas Aarssen, author, HGTV host. Hot homemade messand creator of Clutterbug.
According to Aarssen, there are four organization styles, which she calls “clutterbugs”: cricket, ladybug, butterfly, and bee. When you follow clutterbug categories, most little kids are butterflies. That means they’re really visual and need big, simple categories for organization and storage with no lids, she says.
“[Toy boxes] are just too big a category for kids to handle. When a child wants a toy in a toy box, they have to dig and throw to find what they are looking for. Individual open square bins are much easier for kids to manage so they can find what they need without taking it all out.
Let your containers dictate how much you keep.
The advantage of individually classified containers? They dictate how much of an item you can have!
Considering that many toys are associated with the popular slogan “collect them all”, it can be difficult to get an idea of how much you’ve accumulated before they start taking over rooms. It can be difficult to determine how much of any category you should keep.
“The secret is to let the container be the bad guy,” says Aarssen. When the bin for a particular category is full, you know it’s time to let go of what doesn’t fit. The same goes for shelves. Your shelving is a container with limits and you can only keep what is reasonably convenient for you. Like anything else in your home, if you can’t find enough space for it, it’s probably time to get rid of it.
Categorize and rotate toys.
Toy cars and fake food have a habit of spiraling out of control. The solution? Group similar items together.
Keep a bin for cars and a bin for tracks. The same goes for kitchen toys. Limit it to a bin for toys and kitchen appliances. Or you can keep toys and playthings separate in separate bins if shelf space permits, suggests Aarssen.
“Be aware that having too much of anything without a proper organizational system can lead to sensory overload, inattention, and impulsive play behaviors in your child,” Johnson says. Setting up a toy rotation system is a great way to manage your space when you have a lot and ensures your child engages intentionally. It may look like making only five puzzles accessible at a time by changing them on a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly basis.
Once you play with toys, it may not be easy to remember where each item should go when it’s time to clean it.
Properly labeling each category or bin will make cleanup easier. Photo labels representing the category of this bin make sorting easier for children who cannot yet read.
Create light areas.
Making room for large toys is a challenge, especially when they’re likely stored in a shared space. Johnson suggests keeping it simple by designating the available wall space to neatly line up carriers and other large toys.
“The magic is to designate the area as ‘home’ for these items while keeping your little ones on board,” she says. “If you’re looking to take it a step further, you can place a sign on the wall that identifies the area or even create ‘lanes’ on the floor using tape. These techniques are great tools to help your child to identify where these objects belong.
Set the rules.
Finally, once each misplaced toy has found its place, you need to ensure that cleanliness is maintained. Kids tend to focus more on play time than on the big cleaning order to follow. Since they probably won’t understand that taking everything out at once can mean several rounds of the “clean up” song before everything is put away, it’s up to you to set clear boundaries at the start of playtime. A simple way to do this is to limit the number of things that can be removed at once.
“Children can only play with two bins at a time, and they must clean them before they can play with another bin,” says Aarssen. “Eventually, as storage becomes a habit for your child, you no longer need to limit the number of bins.”
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