The Simple Guide to Stop Toy Clutter.
You can’t organise toy clutter.
There are only a few days left of the school holidays and we are all still enjoying mornings which are not rushed and scheduled, as we come to the end of the holidays we see an accumulation of the usual mess our kids make, and we manage to find all sorts of things in the strangest of places such as :
- Spilt drinks
- Crisps crunched into the carpet.
- Piles of toys
- Dirty piles of half worn clothes.
- Paper clutter
- Arts and craft clutter
- Tangled up knitting
Then there is the next level of unexplained mess lurking in the most extraordinary places,
- The sweet wrappers in the candle holders
- The half-chewed sweet behind a cushion
- The underpants in the paddling pool
- The Lego in the shower
- The spiky seashell in your bed
We can’t do much to tackle the lurkers, but we can make an effort to deal with the toy clutter.
What Is Toy Clutter?
Toy clutter can be caused by a few different problems
- Holding onto broken toys
- An excess of toys
- Keeping toys which are not an appropriate age for your kids
- Book clutter
- Sentimental toys such as stuffed animals
- Paper clutter
- Stationary art and craft clutter
Getting rid of broken toys.
Start with a massive bin bag and throw everything away which is broken, has a piece missing or is incomplete. The types of things to look for would be;
- Board games with pieces missing
- Jigsaw puzzles with pieces missing
- Dolls with missing limbs or heads
- Garden toys which are rusty or broken
How to start a toy rotation system.
Starting a toy rotation system helps keep toys exciting for your kids as each time they are taken out of rotation it’s like having a new toy all over again!
Toy rotation makes it easier to organise toys and allows your children to see exactly what they have got to play with.
- separate any toys which are noisy, branded or battery operated and put them in storage.
- Separate the remaining toys into groups, for example ;
Arts and crafts
Roleplay and costumes
Lego & construction
- Choose one set of toys from each group and set them out within easy reach. So for example, if your child has ten board games set one out to play with this week and put the rest of the board games into the basement, garage or anywhere out of sight to be rotated later on. do this with each of the groups of toys until you have one main set of toys from each group on display to be played with. With things like dolls, you could keep them in sets of similar dolls.
- Choose two books for each child and put the rest into a rotation for later on. I also recommend keeping one reference / educational book out too which will also be rotated weekly, I found my kids started regularly reading from their reference books because they weren’t overwhelmed by too much choice.
- Any books needed for school or after-school activities should not be included in the toy rotation system.
- Display the toys on an easily accessible shelf or bookcase and make sure each toy is easy to put away. Small groups of toys should be displayed in baskets within reach.
- Coloured pencils should be sharpened and all pens should be working, these should be stored in a basket with paper and kids scissors, glue and other craft materials and should be easily accessible.
- The toy rotation will feel incredibly strange at first and it will seem like your children have very few toys, you might feel a little anxious that they are going to be bored with so few toys, resist the temptation to bring more toys out.
- Allow your children the time and space to play without interruption; you should soon notice a change in the way your children interact with their toys.
The benefits of getting rid of toy clutter.
I soon noticed that my kids suddenly got excited about their easily accessible toys, it was as if they were discovering these long lost toys for the first time. These were the same toys which had been ignored and never played with in the past year.
I observed them playing together for the first time, with no arguments, I witnessed their imaginations come alive. Their once neglected toys were picked up again and loved and played with over and over again.
Q. Will my children miss having lots of toys?
No, my kids didn’t notice that most of their toys had gone, as they could find things much more easily without the toy clutter and without having too many choices.
- They built dens inside and outside with clothes, sheets pillows and anything else they could find.
- They drew, coloured and painted
- They wrote stories.
- They didn’t ask for tv, electronics or tablets
- They started helping out more around the house especially cooking , making breakfasts and helping with evening meals.
- Their play seemed to be much more in-depth and imaginative
- They argued less and less and seemed to become more of a team.
Q. Will my kids get bored with just two books?
No, quite the opposite, at bedtime our story times became much more animated, as my kids got much more familiar with the story. They got the know the stories so well they were role-playing them in their general play during the week!
Although having only two books and a reference book each to read, seemed a ridiculously small amount to give my kids, I soon discovered that my kids treasured their books more than they ever had. They looked forward to their bedtime story much more than ever before. They understood the story in greater depth and were able to talk about the feelings of the characters and their relationship to each other. They read to themselves in bed for longer too, before going to sleep which is a habit I’d always hoped they’d adopt.
When the books were swapped the kids were excited to see which books were next to read, and old unread books were given a new lease of life and became firm favourites.
Rotating books also gave me a better insight into which books the kids enjoyed and which ones they were not so thrilled with, this helped hugely when it came to decluttering their books.
Q. How do I rotate toys?
- After my kids had been playing with their toys and books for a week I put them back into storage, then I got out a fresh set of toys from each group and another two books. Exactly the same thing happened again. my kids were super excited to play with their “new” toys and they were calmer happier and more focused.
A year later I still use toy rotation and my kids are still excited to see which of their toys are coming out of the rotation ( it’s almost like they’ve been toy shopping in their own house!)
- I donate any toys, games or books they are not enamoured by, and any noisy toys get donated, and they are definitely not missed by me or the kids.
- Toys typically now only take five minutes maximum to tidy up, which is amazing, and it is also easy for my kids to put their stuff away themselves, which is a win for me!
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