Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Wisdom Wednesday: Toys they can use

If you are a parent, you have too many toys somewhere in your house, I know this to be true. It's a relative thing, some parents tolerate more "stuff" than others, but we all can agree that the kids have more toys than they are willing to play with.

I gleaned today's bit of wisdom from another mom about three years ago. In her life before babies, she was a Kindergarten teacher...aka, saint. Anyhow, her playroom was a sight to behold. An entire room dedicated to toys and books. The unique thing was that all the toys were grouped together according to type/function/use. Up until this experience, my idea of toy storage was a roomy toy box. But upon dicovering how much better her toy area functioned, I was determined to put her technique to use. Having many, smaller compartments to store toys has increased the kids access to them, and facilitates easy clean up. I've done my room fairly low budget. The shelves are left over from a prior life in my pantry, the bins on the shelves are large dishpans purchased for $1.88 at Walmart.
The rolling drawers go on sale pretty regularly, and the old roomy toy box? It now houses all the stuffed animals that usually don't even get played with.

Each drawer/bin is labeled and there are places for "Pirates", "Barbies", "Dragon Set", "Babies", "Action Figures", "Horses", etc. There is a large Rubbermaid bin for dress up clothes, and buckets and baskets for toy cars and soldiers. Finally, there are portable boxes with lids for different kinds of blocks. Lincoln Logs in one, Gears! in another, wooden blocks in a third. These can be as simple as an old detergent box, or just an inexpensive clear box with a snap lid, the last one I bought cost $3.88. Now that B is older and gets more complicated building sets, I've discovered having the instructions is necessary, so I put those in baggies and toss them in the bin with the toy they go to. If they want to use them, they get them out, if not, the just stay in the bag and don't get torn up. It's also helpful to cut off par tof the box with building options pictured on it like I did with the Imaginext set in the second pic.

It sounded and looked complicated to me at first, but once I took little sections and sorted what we really had, it became clear how things could be divided and stored neatly. This has worked whether the kids have had their toys in their bedrooms or in a dedicated playroom, and it really has made it easier for them to play with what they have. The peices stay together, (for the most part), and it allows the kids to know what to expect in terms of clean up.

So go to the toy box, poke around inside and see if you could break things down a bit for your youngsters! You don't need to get fancy, and you don't have to do everything all at once. One of the nicest things about grouping toys together, is that it helps you sort out the good stuff from the "stuff-stuff". Only allow yourself one bin for "Misc". You know, all those McDonalds toys and Dollar store finds that really don't fit in anywhere else? You'll also begin to find that you think twice before purchasing yet another toy. Chances are once you know what you have, you won't add more toys to that category unless it's something you find real value in, and your kids won't clamor for more toys because they can find the stuff they want to play with!

Also, check out Rocks In My Dryer for "Works for me Wednesday". It's a new thing she's doing and I think it will yeild some fun ideas for simplifying life. Not something I'm particularly good at, my organizational prowress pretty much begins and ends in the toy department! ;O)


JD said...

That is awesome, and great timing too just went through the closet full of stuff for the kiddys and de-junked.

Gabriela said...

Love it, love it, love it! We could be toy-organizing sisters. Sometime I will do a post about my toys and I will let you know.

Some of my things (oops, my kids things!) like train-tracks that have instructions, I tape them to the lid of a plastic container. I like your idea about keeping a picture of the assembled toy.

Keep in touch!

Unknown said...

I've done pretty good with organizing the toys, but the toy box could use some work. I like the stuffed animal idea.
BTW-I tagged you last Saturday when you were busy getting ready for Easter...check out my 2 for the price of 1 post.

Blackeyedsue said...

Boy, could I use your system. My kids toys have been in disarray since I had, well, kids. I think I need to go to Wal-Mart.

Nettie said...

I love when bloggers share their organizational tips. Cause, goodness knows, I could use a few! Great ideas!

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed a lot!
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