Blocks, toy cars, stuffed animals, balls, books, dolls, and lincoln logs are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the toys laying around every toddler-infested household. While the kids just love watching Thomas and his friends choo-choo their way through the living room, mom is trying to rack her brain with ways to make those trains magically disappear without a tantrum. We love to watch our kids enjoy the toys that they have been blessed with. We just don’t love seeing our oriental rug buried beneath a train track and a tea party. Here are some mom-friendly and toddler-friendly ways to manage and conceal that toy clutter.
BASKETS BASKETS BASKETS:
Baskets are great because they provide plenty of room for all kinds of different sizes and shapes of toys. They also look great in a grown-up room, and if you do it right, you can’t even tell there are toys in there. When your kid’s toys are gone one day (sniff sniff) you can reuse those baskets for adult things, like clean blankets and wine.
If you’re in the market for a stylish basket, we adore Bolga Baskets. They are handmade by African women in Ghana supporting their family, and fairly traded, as well as being made from non-toxic and all natural materials and colors. Each basket is unique, since they are hand woven, and it is truly a conversation starter.
“CLEAN UP, CLEAN UP… EVERYBODY, EVERYWHERE”:
You can start teaching your young toddler to pick up his toys simply by placing a toy in his hand and guiding his hand and the toy into the bin it goes in, while saying “Clean up toys.” Be consistent and patient. It may take a while for him to grasp, but the earlier you start, the better ingrained the concept will be in his mind, and the better chance you have of him cooperating. Also, realize that a room covered in toys is overwhelming for a toddler, and to expect him to clean up the whole room by himself will only breed frustration for both of you. You can begin picking up the toys while encouraging him to help you. Sing a fun clean-up song.
We love this Clean Up Time board book that helps encourage and reiterate the importance of cleaning up to toddlers.
GO THROUGH TOYS TWICE A YEAR:
As fast as kids grow and as fast as their tastes change, that’s as fast as you should be cleaning out their toy collection. At least twice a year (right before their birthday and right before Christmas) you should go through your toddler’s toys and make 3 piles:
This way you have inventory of what your toddler plays with on a regular basis, which toys are broken and are unsafe to keep, which ones he’s outgrown, and which ones have driven you crazy long enough.
If you have the extra space, creating a toy closet is a great way to manage toys. You divide all their toys into separate piles and rotate through the piles every few weeks or so. The toys your toddler is not currently playing with are stored in the “toy closet” (an extra closet in your home, under a bed, extra shelf or drawer, etc.). You can customize this process to work best for your family. The number of piles can be based on how many toys you have. The number of weeks you rotate through can be based on your toddler’s attention span. The toy closet gives your toddler a fresh set of toys to play with on a regular basis, which helps with boredom and attentiveness, not to mention it cuts down on toy clutter and saves money for mom by her not having to buy new toys all the time!
CONSOLIDATE AND ORGANIZE:
Keep like toys in one container. The puzzles are all on one rack, the cars are all in one basket, and the stuffed animals are all in one bin. It’s easier for toddlers to find their toys and clean up their toys if they are all together and not spread out all over the house. If you are lucky to have a playroom, keep the majority of toys in there. If not, keep toys in the main room your toddler plays.
A helpful way to keep toys organized, especially all the small “parts” is with this Storage Shelf with cloth bins. Keeping all the small parts located together will save you time, while also encouraging your child to pick up one bin’s worth of items, before getting (or dumping!) another one out.
Even though toddlers would be just as happy with a cardboard box and a stick, we still like to watch them explore the world through the toys that we give them. Let’s just make sure there’s a place for each toy AND a place for us to kick up our feet at the end of a long day!
Do you have any tips for managing the toys in your home?