From before they are even born, babies and children accumulate so much 'stuff'. To be fair, it's not their fault. Parents, family and friends buy it and the mountain grows even faster than the kids. But there's just so much of it. There are the educational toys, musical toys, soft toys, plastic toys, wooden toys, foam toys, the list is never ending but most homes don't have endless storage space to keep it all. If my two children are anything to go by the toys still end up on the floor regardless of how many storage boxes I buy.
So, wanting to reclaim back some space in my house, here are my 5 tips on managing toy mess.
1. Keep toys in bedrooms (or playrooms). Rather than in living spaces, keep the majority of toys in their bedroom, or a playroom if you have one. Give the children boxes and let them work out what should be stored in each one. This way they are more likely to know where to find their toys and tidy them away.*
2. Let their bedrooms be their own spaces. Having a space that they can call their own with their belongings is good for them. Granted, their room will probably be messier with all the toys on hand but at least their not in shared living spaces of the house. We have found that for our boys to play in their rooms they have to clear a space to do this.**
3. Have regular toy clear outs when the children aren't there. No doubt they will suddenly remember that the toy they haven't played with for at least a year is their new favourite again when they see it, so I usually do this when they're not around. I sometimes keep these toys in a cupboard for a couple of months to see if they ask for them (they generally don't).
4. If they tidy up at school, they can tidy up at home. True in theory but more tricky in practice. I used to be a Foundation stage teacher and it still amazes me how it's easier to get 30 children to tidy a classroom than my own two children to tidy their bedrooms. But as they do it at school it's good to know they can do it at home too.***
5. Put a blanket or sheet down to play Lego on. A dad of five children once told me this great top tip. When it's time to tidy it away just lift up the four corners and tip back into the box. Pass this one on, it'll save your knees.
* wishful thinking
** by pushing everything under the bed
*** more wishful thinking