In recent posts, I’ve shared how we transformed our unfinished basement into a play space and offered some tips and tricks on how to organize toys in a playroom. Today, it’s all about how to maintain your play space and prevent toys from taking over your house. Here’s what works for us:
Have a dedicated place for toys:
I realize not everyone has the luxury of having a play room but whether it be a spare bedroom, a bonus room or a re-purposed corner of your home, it can make a huge difference containing the majority of toys to one area. Most of the toys we ban to the playroom. Especially the loud ones. We contain the toys but we don’t contain the creativity. The kids play all over the house but if a toy migrates outside of this space, it must make its way back down before the end of the day.
Keep a flexible routine:
Our general but flexible rule is that we take 30 minutes once every few weeks to do a reorganization & clean up of the basement play space. This is a joint effort between the adults and kids in the house. We work as a team because the mess can be a little overwhelming for little people and it gives us a chance to demonstrate team work and offer some direction to keep them on task. It also gives us the chance to find missing toys, remove anything broken, ensure big kids toys are kept on the big kid side and reset the space so the kids have an inspiring play space again.
Keep it manageable in the busiest area of your home:
Outside of the playroom, we use a 3 sprouts storage bin in the family room where we allow the kids to keep their favorite quiet toys. The contents of this bin will rotate when needed. The kids clean up the toys in the family room before bedtime or between activities. It gives them a small but manageable selection of things to play with independently and teaches them to put away their toys without it being an overwhelming amount to clean up.
We also have a cabinet where we keep learning activities, markers, play doh, sticker books and other frequently used table activities. This keeps the parent-child activities close by so we can use them often but tucked away in the cupboard so it’s out of sight and offered under supervision. I try to keep activities with small pieces restricted to this cabinet as well so the daily clean up of our main space doesn’t involve wandering around on hands and knees picking up mini-figure body parts out of the mat.
Quiet toys in the bedroom:
The kids bedrooms is where we keep the majority of the books and stuffed animals and their collection of small meaningful treasures. The kids have some interesting things they can look at or play with in their room but the stimulating play land is kept away from their sleep space. This also supports our routine of reading before bedtime, which helps with end of day wind down.
We are pretty darn good at reserving toy purchases for birthdays and holidays only but with a blended family of 4 children at all different ages and stages, toy accumulation can still be a challenge. Boredom boxes are a great way to rotate some of your smaller existing toys. It creates novelty for some of the forgotten toys at the bottom of the bin, and rotates some of the favorites. Check out my boredom boxes video share. If boredom boxes aren’t your thing, you could always just shove some toys in a garbage bag and stick it in the garage for a few months and then reveal the “new” toys they had forgotten. Either way, rotating toys will take a load off and you will love to see the excitement from your kids when their old toys seem new again!
At one time I had a one toy in, one toy out policy that I found to be really effective to prevent overload. Now we do some purging of toys a few times a year to keep things at a manageable level. I always struggled with purging before having my second child. It’s hard to part with things as they get older if you know you may have more kids some day. Here’s how I coped before number two came along: Top 5 Friday – Tips to manage baby gear overload Eventually, Jude arrived…then I gained another 2 almost instantly through our blended family. Now I am shouting “I’m done!!” from the rooftops. Although I was expecting to have a hard time parting with my youngest kids baby toys due to sentimental reasons, I am actually finding myself pushing it out the door and feeling great about it!
Now that I’ve shared what works for me, I’d love to hear what works for you! Share your tips & tricks in the comments below so my other readers can benefit!
If you liked this post, check out others in this series:4