Toys…don’t they just get everywhere? My house is rarely tidy for more than a few minutes and trying to pick up while you have twin toddlers is futile. I’m pretty sure toy management could be a full time job. However I have picked up a few tips to help manage the toy situation and save time with this never ending task.
If you don’t have some kind of storage unit, you need to get down to IKEA sharpish and sort yourself out. The Kallax range is fab and can be bought in a variety of sizes and colours to suit. Obviously there are others out there but for price and flexibility I don’t think you can beat it for this job.
We’ve got coloured bins which I did intend to label (orange – large toys, yellow – instruments, blue – soft toys, red – small sets, grey – kitchen accessories, pink – bits and bobs, green – games and puzzles) but when you’ve sorted the same toys a thousand times, labels are a bit pointless as you could do it in your sleep.
2) Zipper bags
I realised as soon as the girls turned two that so many of their toys had multiple pieces which I kept finding all over the house. Many of the puzzle boxes were bulky or damaged and so I bulk bought zipper wallets and just cut off the jigsaw picture to slot in. This takes up a lot less space and my girls love to do the zips so I’m encouraging them to put away one puzzle before they start another.
3) Purchase wisely
This is easy to say but hard to do. It so easy to get carried away and spoil our little ones, however I really believe with toys, less is definitely more. Whenever I see something I’m tempted by, I ask myself (a)Do they have something similar? (b)Where will it go? (c)How much play/enjoyment will they get from it?
Often if I decide to buy something big, I’ll add it to my ongoing list for either birthday/xmas or Easter. Smaller toys, I generally only buy when I see them second hand and so I pick these up as and when. Very cheap tat such as those free on magazines, I see as disposable and will bin/recycle as soon as possible as they can quickly build up.
4) Toy rotation
Online you can find incredible toy rotation systems and there has clearly been a lot of thought put into what toys to have out and when. If I had more time, maybe I’d figure out a better way but for now all the large sets such as our big happyland bundle and duplo table live in a cupboard upstairs.
Every few weeks, I bring one set down and it stays until I can’t bear the mess anymore (normally a couple of days). If these were to stay permenantely in our playroom, I think lots of bits would wander and more importantly, they’d get bored of them quicker. This way there is still the novelty factor even though we’ve had some sets for over a year.
5) Quarterly clear out
It’s obvious really that if you keep buying without taking anything away, you are going to get swamped. Every three or four months, be brutal and have a big clear out. While my girls are still young, I know what gets played with and what doesn’t and so I can get away with doing this myself without any repercussions.
As they get older, I want to instil a sense of charity and generousity and so will share this job with them. They already know about a few toys that went to a friend’s baby and handled that well so hopefully, they’ll give without upset. We time our clear outs for before their birthday, Xmas and then once or twice between them. I make use of the charity bags that come through my door as that way I don’t even have to take the stuff anywhere. It’s collected right from my door.
Finally, remember the toy stage won’t last forever. It does feel chaotic but also think about the pleasure they get from play and all the learning opportunities that play teaches. Soon enough trucks and farm animals, dolls and teddies will be forgotten.
How do you manage the toy chaos? Add any tips you have in the comments below as I’d love to hear more ideas.