For most of us, it's a daily battle, and each year get a little bit trickier. Yes - we are talking about keeping organized while living with kids.
Every table top, empty floor space, and cupboard eventually becomes prime real-estate for imaginative play, LEGO building, and storage for the backlog of clothes and gifts flowing in at every turn.
It's a lot. And even the most organized homes can quickly feel abundantly full.
The good news is, with a little bit of time and continued dedication, there are ways to curb the gradual toy take-over, even reclaiming a few kid-free spaces in the process. Below we share 5 tangible steps to get you started.
Perhaps an obvious first step, but purging is key. Going through every basket, bin, and toy drawer three or four times a year is vital step to maintaining order and our sanity. Start with a garbage bag to collect all the broken pieces, partial happy meals toys, and slime that has inevitably oozed out all over the inside of a drawer. From there, do a second pass through collecting items in good repair and ideal for selling or donating.
Parting with toys can be an emotionally hard concept for kids to grasp, so this is usually a task best tackled when they aren't home. I typically couple this big purge with reorganizing furniture, changing out linens, or a really deep whole-home tidy, as it creates one more visual distraction so my son doesn't notice things have been removed.
Also, if you aren't quite sure if something is ready to be donated and are worried your child might ask for it the moment they notice it is missing, a good tip is to tuck it away in your storage space and wait to see if it is asked about. I have done this successfully with many toys in our home, and only once have questions been raised about where the item went.
This system takes a bit of work to setup, but starting a toy rotation is a great way to get a handle on the toys currently in your home and help your kids get the most out of their toys in the process.
Start by dividing your toys into categories - keeping like with like, separate everything out into groups - games and puzzles, building toys, moving toys, books... etc. The goal is to eventually compile 5 or 6 toy bundles, incorporating a few items from each of the category's you have created.
From there, allow your child access to only one bundle at a time (keep the others hidden in storage for future rotation.) Doing this prevents your kids from suffering that overwhelming feeling that comes with too many choices and allows more toys to be played with and appreciated. Find a rotation schedule that works best for you, but generally, rotating the bundles every 4-6 weeks works great for most families.
NO TOY ZONES
We have a rule in our house that toys are only kept in our sons bedroom. Our home is small, so often play happens everywhere, but creating this clear boundary and expectation allows him to know he can play wherever he wants, but when he is done, everything must be packed up and put back. Having all the toys kept in one contained room means I never stress about cleaning the WHOLE house before guests come over. Our living spaces remain clear, relatively tidy, and toy-free, and I can simply close the door if the mess in the designated toy room ever feels like too much.
Clear bins are key for toy storage. You can quickly and easily see what's kept inside (awesome for kids in the pre-reading phase) and tracking down that missing action hero suddenly no longer requires rummaging through every single drawer and basket.
If you are implementing the toy rotation method outlined above, labeling the bins with a small card listing each toy inside is handy. Alternatively, written labels for kids who can read, or simple illustrations of what goes in each bin for younger kids is a great way to empower children to help with tidying up and keeping things well organized.
Tapering the influx stuff coming into your home is really the best way to curb kids clutter. A few creative ideas for this include:
Toonie Birthday Party - in lieu of traditional gifts, ask each guest brings two toonies- one to be put towards a collective gift for the birthday child, and the other to be donated to a charity of their choosing.
Donations to a charity - discuss with your child the option of collecting donation to a worthwhile charity instead of receiving birthday gifts. This works especially well with very young children, or school-aged kids that are a little bit older.
Saving for something big - have family and friends contribute to something big your child is saving for. Whether that savings is their Post Secondary Education Fund (RESP) or a trip to Diseneyland, most people can get on board with giving money in lieu of toys.
One thing in/ One thing out rule - get your child on board with the one thing in/one thing out rule. If they get a new toy or book, a no longer used toy or book needs to be passed along.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by disorganization, give us a call to set up your FREE in-home, no obligation consultation. Our team of professionals are expertly trained, non-judgemental, and able to create customized, long-lasting organizing solutions for any room in your home - giving you and your family room to breathe.
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