Lions and Tigers and Bears! Organizing the Toy area

While it may not actually contain real lions and bears, your toy area may feel like a wild jungle. There are all kinds of species: stuffed, plastic, and maybe a few homemade treasures. Toys are scattered everywhere. How do you tame a room like this and make it work for you and your child? Let’s look at a few important things to consider before setting out to reclaim the toy jungle.

As with most spaces, it is always great to start by sorting through to see what you have. Consider each item and decide if it really belongs in that space. Next, separate the items into the traditional 3 categories of Toss, Sell/Donate, or Keep.

  • Toss anything that is broken, missing pieces, or unsafe.
  • Sell/ Donate items that are no longer age appropriate, aren’t being used much, no longer match your child’s likes, or you have too many of. There are many great places, such as children’s shelters, that will accept your donated toys, or you can sell them at consignment shops or a neighborhood garage sale.
  • Keep only what you know your child will use or play with.

Did you know research has found that when we are faced with too many choices, we often will make no choice at all? This explains the comment parents sometimes hear from their child, “I’m bored”, to which they reply, “How can you be bored when you have so many toys and things to play with?” Too many options make the good options harder to see. This is why I suggest taking your “Keep” pile and dividing it even more into 3 subcategories.

Accessible now- These are toys that will be kept out and available for your child to play with now. It should include their favorites along with a variety of items. Select a few toys that cover a wide range of activities. They should enable your child to use their creativity and imagination, their large and small motor skills, and be involved in individual and group play.

For toy rotation – These toys should be stored elsewhere like the basement, attic, or upper shelf in a closet. They can be rotated in every month or every quarter. This is a great option because it offers the appeal of new items without actually buying new ones. Think of how a library book has a fresh interest as opposed to books that sit on your shelf at home all the time. Rotating toys is a wonderful way to control the quantity out and available at one time. It reduces the chaos and helps make choices easier. You might put the rotation on your calendar, so you’ll remember when it is time to switch toys around. Remember when you rotate toys in, you must also rotate some out! The rotation time is also a great time to reevaluate each of the toys your child has, checking for things they have out grown or that need to be tossed.

For future – These are items that you want to keep for when you have more children or, if you are really thinking ahead, for your future grandkids. Be very selective! This future category will go into storage where the items will take up precious space for years. There will always be Tonka trucks and Fisher-price school buses to buy when needed, so choose only the toys that cannot be replaced or that hold special memories for your children. Make sure to clearly label each box with the contents and appropriate ages.

Following these tips will tame your toy area and let your child loose in their choice-optimizing, organized space.  © 2022 Beth Giles

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