Monday, December 4, 2017

Thoughts about Organizing Toys

Organizing Toys

            Toys are everywhere. It seems that no matter what I do, they take over the house. I am embarrassed to have company because they would be sitting on the children’s toys. I have bought bins for the toys, but I can’t seem to figure out what to put in what bin. I have attempted to organize the toys, but it never stays that way.

      These are all comments from parents who are struggling to put some kind of order into their houses. With a little ingenuity and persistence keeping toys, games and craft supplies organized can look eye appealing.

            There are two distinct philosophies for where to keep toys:
1. Keep them in the child’s room
2. Keep them in a common area (or toy room)

            Before deciding which method you are going to use in your house lets look at some of the issues that you need to keep in mind. (See advantages and disadvantages chart below)

            Whose responsibility is it to keep track of the toys? Until children are around nine years old, they do not have the mental capacity and level of responsibility to take care of their own toys. This does not mean that they cannot put away their toys; they just need guidance and supervision. The ultimate responsibility for keeping toys organized and good shape is on the parents. No matter how much we want to put the onus on the child, they are not the ones who pay the bills and run the household.

           No matter how many children you have, they all need learn to respect the property of others, whether it is the property of their siblings, their parents or their friends. If you have one child and are not planning to have more children then it doesn’t really matter about preventing arguments about sharing toys. However, if you have more than one child you face the challenge of democratically having your children share toys with each other.

Are there toys that they treasure and want to keep sacred? Is your child territorial about certain toys? Some children appreciate every toy they have and take very good care of their toys. Others can’t be bothered taking care of their toys. When one is broken they move onto the next. If they can’t find a toy, they play with something else.

How much money do you want to spend on new toys? Are you willing to dish out money for a new game because your child lost all of the pieces to one you already have? Do you want to buy more than one of each toy so each of your children will not feel slighted?

            Keeping all of these questions and issues in mind now you can think about which solution is better for you. I recommend a hybrid. Keep the majority of toys in a common area and only keep special toys in the child’s room. As children get older and can handle more responsibility, they tend to bring items in their rooms so they can play with them alone and keep them special. They key is to only let them take in what they can be responsible for themselves. Remember that they have school and other responsibilities including keeping their clothing and personal belongings in order. Although, you and they may think they are old enough for keeping track of all of their toys, they still need guidance.

You can set good intentions with them to put away every day, but they won’t. If you are not going to go into their rooms on a daily basis and make them clean up the toys, clothes and other items that make it to their floors, then the toys shouldn’t be in the bedroom. When you don’t pick up and put away everyday, the mess gets too overwhelming and the problem gets compounded. Remember that a bedroom is a place to rest and relax. If it is too cluttered it is too stressful.

So you’ve decided to keep the majority of the toys in a common area of the house, so you can monitor them. Follow the 10 steps to organizing your toys, games and crafts and stay organized forever.

  1. Take inventory of what you have. Don’t physically write a list of the items like you would in a store or manufacturing plant. Collect everything from around the house that is considered a toy and put it on the floor in one location (maybe the floor of your living room).
  2. Determine what you need. Are there games that you love to play? When you look at them all together you can begin to see themes. For example, you may notice that you have an overabundance of action figures but action figures may be the toy that your children play with the most. So you definitely need action figures.
  3. Get rid of items no longer needed. Weed out toys that the children have outgrown. Sometimes the toys are age appropriate, but the child doesn’t play with them. If you think they will not have an interest in that toy, then get rid of it. Trash games and toys that have broken or missing pieces and warped or moldy boards. Donate duplicates of games. What you think you need, weed again to cut the amount keeping in half. Give children a chance to use their imagination. Sticks and rocks have made great toys for many years. 
  4. Find a home or spot for everything that you are keeping. When considering a home, keep in mind that it is easier to manage if everything is in one place. Also keep in mind to make toys and games easily accessible. Children are more likely to keep the items put away if they able to take out and put away by themselves.
  5. Make it easy to remain neat. Store items in a closed area such as a cabinet or closet.  If you have open shelving, bins are good to store smaller items or items that belong in sets. Many stores have attractive straw baskets so you aren’t stuck with all plastic bins in the middle of your home.
  6. Put like items together. By sorting and grouping, children as early as two years old can put away toys. Some examples of like items are: jigsaw puzzles, games, dolls, sporting equipment, transportation, blocks, and spy kit items.
  7. Separate into smaller units. In some cases, after you have all of the like items together, you should separate them into smaller units. For example, if you are organizing all of the craft supplies you will want to further sort them by markers, crayons, colored pencils, etc.
  8. Eliminate acquiring. This is easer said than done. Although you may not be able to control what others give your children, you can start with yourself and think before you buy something. Does my child have time to play with this?  Does my child have a similar toy? Where am I going to store this? Try the one in, one out method. If you put that toy in the house, what toy can your remove from it’s place. Or if you are brave, go for the two for one deal. Two out, one in. As far as others, you can ask that they give savings bonds or gift certificates instead of toys.
  9. Clean out yearly. Select an occasion such as an upcoming birthday, holiday, or summer vacation to do your annual toy and game clean out. When you are cleaning out realize that tastes have changed since the previous year. Also, keep in mind that you need to save room for new items that will be consistent with this year’s tastes.
  10. Pick up and put away every day. Each day, children should take out what they want to use and  put it away when they are done. If you are consistent with your reminders to them, it will become automatic and it will only takes 15 minutes at the end of every day to put all of the straggler toys and tidy the common toy and game area.




Advantages
Disadvantages
Keeping Toys in Bedroom
Keeps stuff special for child

Out of common areas

Sense of respect and responsibility for the child
Room gets too cluttered

Harder to clean up when mixed with clothes and personal items

Bedroom is for relaxing and sleeping and one can’t if there is too much stuff and too many distractions.

Keeping Toys in Common Room
Everything is in one place – all in one place you can monitor

Less likely to break and  loose pieces, less money on new toys

Take out what they want to use and put away when done. To be done every 2 months or so
Mom usually is now more responsibility

Fights over whose toy it really is

Someone may breaking something that someone else loves



For more information, or to get help with your organization needs, visit
http://www.organiz-er.com/

978-376-9606

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