Want To Keep Your Sanity While Home With Kids? Then Conquer This “Beast”

Being at home with our children is a wonderful blessing that some parents cannot afford – but it is also the toughest job in the world!

We are on a never-ending hamster wheel of cleaning and tidying all the stuff that comes with having kids.  Once one mess is cleaned up, another one is underway.

Having kids means having mess, but there are ways to tackle the most difficult challenge we face in keeping our homes clean and our sanity intact.

Ah, so many toys.  They are everywhere – and seem to have so many pieces that seem to spread like wildfire all over the house.

Are you overwhelmed with how to keep toy clutter organized in your home?  You are not alone.  Small children, especially, seem to tear things apart in an instant and cleanup can quickly become frustrating.

First things first.  Before beginning the organizing process, take some time to throw away anything broken, toys that are not useable due to missing pieces, or anything you feel your child has outgrown or not played with in a few months.  (A good tip is to do this when your child is sleeping.  They seem to always desperately want that plastic cow with a missing leg when they see you throwing it away!)

Church nurseries, daycares, and preschools are always excited to have toys in decent shape that your child has outgrown.

Find one central location in your home.  It is important to have a designated space for toys in your home.  Not everyone has the luxury of an extra room to be used as a play space, but there are other options.

Keeping toys all over the home makes it hard to keep them organized and together.  Even if you don’t have a playroom, you can clean out a spare closet or even designate one corner of one room as toy storage.

Instead of one (or several) big toy boxes around the house, you can purchase plastic storage bins at the dollar store and stack them in the designated closet or on low bookcases in the corner of a room.

Small toys are the worst! Organizing those pieces that seem to reproduce all over the house is key to decluttering!  These can be grouped together in your purchased storage boxes.  Toy cars, Legos, playdough and modeling tools, the endless supply of fast-food kid’s meal toys – each can be put in their own themed box and easily labeled with a bit of colorful tape or sticky label.

For smaller children, you can even find a picture online of just about any toy out there, print it out, and tape it to the storage box so little ones can easily recognize what’s inside.

Large Ziploc bags or inexpensive cloth bags are also a wonderful tool to have in your arsenal to defeat toy clutter.

How many of us have dozens of puzzle boxes (which are always falling apart and dumping puzzle pieces) or activity sets with multiple parts?  Puzzles can be taken out of the box and individually stored in zipper bags, and the boxes top with the completed picture can be cut out and stored inside the bag with the pieces.

This is great for board games, as well.  Grab an extra-large zipper bag and put the gameboard, game pieces, and directions inside and ditch the box!  Games and puzzles will be much easier to keep together and take up far less space than all those boxes.  (We’ve all been there, and there is only so much masking tape can do to repair those corners!)

Once you’ve organized the puzzles and games into their individual bags, they can be kept in one large storage box simply labeled “puzzles, games, etc.”

Small parts to activity sets can be stored in individual zipper bags, labeled, and stored within they toy they belong to.  For example, all those dollhouse pieces can go into a bag and stored within the dollhouse!

Take a cue from childcare centers.  Center-based play is the primary way that daycares and preschools keep their rooms neat and organized – and having centers is good for your child’s development as it keeps them focused and prevents overstimulation.

There are so many ways to be creative with this one!  Do you have hundreds of pieces of play food?  Put some empty cardboard boxes or craft store crates to good use and make a little pantry or grocery store for pretend play with your child’s kitchen set.

Baby doll accessories can be placed in their own basket with a small cradle and some old blankets from when your little one was a really little one – easy baby-care center!

A corner can be used for zoo or farm animals, or small cars and trucks.  You can use a small rug or even tape off designs on the floor to create roads or fences.

Organizing similar items into centers instead of throwing everything into a toybox takes play to a new level that is great for early childhood development.

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Toy rotation is important!  In the same way that creating centers minimizes clutter and enhances focus and imagination in your child, toy rotation is important for both organization and childhood development.  An added bonus is that your child will not grow bored with their toys and will always have something “new” to play with.

Once you’ve done your initial round of organizing and labeling, choose a few boxes of toys to put away in the garage, attic, etc. for use later.  Having less to play with will minimize not only mess but overstimulation in your child from having too many things to choose from.

Pint-Sized Treasures has a great idea for toy rotation that makes it fun for your little ones:

  • Pick a number.Decide on the number of toys your child will be allowed to have in his room. I typically choose 15. Specialty sets like building blocks or play dough sets count as one. Each stuffed animal or individual toy counts as one. Make sense?
  • Be choosey.Explain to your child that toy clutter adds confusion, mess and can even pose dangers in a home. Tell your child he can keep the specified number of toys in his room. Ask him to choose which toys he wants to keep.
  • Store the left-overs.Store the left-over toys in large bins or whatever your family chooses. Explain to your kiddo that in two months you’ll do a “switcharoo.” Your child can help you pack his extra toys away and can help you label the bins or boxes.
  • Make the “switcharoo.”After two months, pull out the stored toys and ask your child to choose again the specified number of toys. He can now play “switcharoo” and change out any toys for one that was in storage.

Many childcare experts also recommend one important thing.  Your child’s bedroom should be a quiet place for sleep, not play.  Other than a few stuffed animals and books, toys should be kept in your designated space in another room.

This tip can prevent bedtime battles when tired little ones fight to keep playing with their things and will provide a calm spot that your child recognizes as a quiet zone for rest.

Once you begin the organizing process, you and your child will have a lot more fun with playtime, and cleanup will be a much smoother process.  Kids can easily identify the labeled box or bag pieces go in, and will take pride in their awesome, organized space!

Are you overwhelmed by your child’s toy clutter?  Or have you found a great system for keeping it organized and fun?  Leave us your ideas in the comments.