I know… with four kids, I’ve been there.
First thing is first… try to embrace it! Yes, I said that. I don’t meant to let your house be taken over by toys, but I do mean to try to see the beauty behind it. You have children that love to play… what a gift that is for you and for them! Your house is the place where you are fostering imagination, creativity, love, education, play and so much more. Your house is lived in and enjoyed… and that’s OK! You are creating wonderful memories for your children and for your family.
Now, I know that you want some real advice, so today I want to give that to you. It can be very hard if you feel like your house is cluttered. That is completely different. Physical Clutter can lead to emotional burdens, which is not healthy for your family. Today we will get it under control.
Try these tips if your toys are taking over your house.
- “Creating order will make childhood more enjoyable. Being surrounded with chaos is not fun for anyone!” ~Karen Meeter
- Go through the toys and get rid of the ones that you don’t use. When toys take over the house, try to get rid of half. That is hard, but it will get rid of the things that your kids don’t use. It is hard for them to find things to play with if they have so much that they can’t even get started.
- You can start by decluttering one room at a time. This is what I do. I start in my child’s bedroom, in their closet, move onto their bookshelf and go from there.
- Find a system that works for you. Maybe it is only having toys in their bedroom. Maybe you expand that to a bonus room. You decide.
- Rotate toys. Have boxes of toys that are put away during winter months and come back out in the spring. It will be like a brand new toy to your child.
- Have hiding places. I hide toys in our living room, because our three year old daughter likes to play beside me and I don’t want to sit in her room all day. I want her to be able to play in our living room, but I don’t want to see those toys once she goes to sleep.
- Start early to teach them about tidying when they are no longer playing with a toy and at the end of day, a big tidy up. ~Lindsay Vlaar
- Keep certain areas off limits… maybe the kitchen or your bedroom. I had a room growing up that we couldn’t play in, but I never even noticed. I just knew that I went in there to read books or sit and talk to my mom, but our toys stayed in the playroom or our bedrooms.
- “My kitchen is off limits. Not to say toys don’t make it in there, it’s just that if someone is using the stove they are not to be in the kitchen. We got them their own little kitchen set that’s right in the living room off the kitchen itself an they can play there while I prepare and cook dinner just to avoid burns or cuts.” ~Roxi Jenson
- Sort toys into boxes or baskets and bring one box out at a time.
- Have a big clear-out every 6 months and get rid of toys that are no longer being played with or used.
- Put away holiday themed toys and get them back out the following year. It will keep them from getting lost or broken and your child will be so excited next year!
- Have boxes that stack or slide under furniture. Sort things into them (cars, superheroes, etc..) and let your child pick the activity. Clean up before starting a new one.
- Clean up together before lunch and again before dinner. Have a 20 minute clean-up together at the end of the day. Set a timer and try to beat it!
- “Instead of getting toys out every day, let them help you. Give them simple tasks to do with you like folding washcloths, sweeping, putting away spoons, etc…” ~Susan Hutchinson
- Have a toy basket in each room, to be a “catch-all” for things that would migrate into the room.
- Make a game out of taking the things back to their home. Our superheroes live in a box in the closet. When we clean up, we simply take them back to their bed.
- Make it easy to clean up. We have a “blanket basket” for the kids blankets that they use to build forts. We have a “toy ottoman” that they can throw toys into when they are done. It is easy and they clean up quickly, no matter what room they are in.
- Keep some toys up high. Small puzzles, markers, etc… can go on a tall shelf. These things are hard to clean up and require adult interaction, so save these things for times when you can be right there, playing with them.
- Teach your kids to put away ALL toys at night for safety reasons (if there is a fire or you need to leave the house, you don’t want to be tripping on toys.)
- Try a toy carpet. If you have a large area rug or a corner section of the room that you would like to designate as the play area, put the toys there and ask your children to keep the toys on the rug or in that space. It makes foreasy cleanup (but it might be hard to teach this rule, at first!)
- Have a toy box in your living room that looks like a decorative seating bench. Your kids can put the toys away when they are done and no one will ever know that you had a room full of toys 20 minutes ago.
Remember that although toys need to be cleaned up (I fully believe that children should help to clean up their things), when they play near you it is only because they want to be where you are. Take it as a compliment and try to be patient. These years won’t last forever. As they grow bigger, the toy pile grows smaller.