Recently I have found out that I’m not the only one who dreams of grabbing all their kids toys, shoving them into trash bags and dropping them off at the local Goodwill store. Between tidying, cleaning, organizing and sorting, on what feels like a daily basis, I’m about ready to lose my mind. The thing is, I just have one toddler and a 4 month old and we don’t really have that much stuff compared to other people. Since we just have one small open-plan living space downstairs, once the toys all get pulled out it can be difficult to maneuver around and it’s starts to feel really chaotic quickly. I was also finding that that chaos was adding to my stress, which in turn, was making me more impatient and irritable- not a great combination. In order to try and create more calm and space in our home, these steps are what I have come up with.
Throw out or donate what you don’t really need. Even though I couldn’t care less about some of my toddlers toys, and they actually just annoy me when I look at them, I find it hard to get rid of something because I think about that one afternoon when she wouldn’t put it down and ask myself, “what happens if she misses it?’ But really, the chances she will remember the small plastic toy she got from a happy meal is pretty unlikely. The less you have, the less you have to organize.
2. Think It Through
With my first baby I felt like I could never get it right. I made deliberate financially smart decisions about everything we purchased. Turns out I was inexperienced and didn’t know exactly what she needed. This time around I’m shocked by what my 4 month old is already showing interest in. If you don’t know what kind of toys/activities are good for your child’s age, then ask another parent who have experience. Also, don’t be lured into thinking they need all the trendy new toys, most, of which cost a fortune.
3. Pack Them Away
If you plan to have more kiddos then pack up those baby toys as your little one outgrows them and save them for the younger sibling that comes along. Sure they might still play with some things on occasion, but if the toys are way out of their age range then focus on their new learning toys and box up the others to save yourself some space. This is the case even if you have more then one kid; just keep out the toys they are currently using.
Keeping the toys organized will really help your sanity! I find I go crazy if I don’t have a place to put anything or the baskets are overflowing. However you decide to store them, keep it organized so you can quickly get a new activity out, or pack it away with ease. This will also really help get the kids involved in the clean up too, but more on that later.
One of the best tips I have ever been given to help minimize the amount of toys that are all over the house it to create a rotation. Box up all the toys into several storage totes, then each day/week (or whatever time frame you decide on) swap out the current box for a new one. This eliminates how many toys the kids can play with at once and means they will always have “new” fun toys to play with.
6. Get Them Involved In Clean Up
Make sure you involve your kiddos in the clean up. Now, this might be a battle a first, especially if you have naturally been cleaning up after your kids for quite a while (ahem, me). Start by teaching them they cannot move on to a new activity until the clean up from the last one. This goes for getting out new toys or moving onto snack time. Once they learn how long it takes to clean up they might be more thoughtful on what they dump out.
7. Plan For Clean Up
Every night I found myself so frustrated with a floor full of toys and a rush to bath time to get the kiddos in bed on time. This is usually when I lose my patience and the clean up becomes a battle of the wills. My toddler somehow moves at super slow speed and I can see the clock ticking as it gets later and later. Now, that I have started scheduling clean up into our evening routine, it’s become a lot smoother. Those designated 15 minutes means I can calmly sit and work with my toddler as we learn the importance of picking up our toys. It’s amazing what changing our mindset can do.
8. Use It Or Lose It
If my toddler refuses to pick up her toys or I’ve had to ask one too many times, that toy(s) gets confiscated. I’ve learned not to be emotional about it, but simply treat it as business transaction. Use it or lose it. Let’s just say I haven’t had to take away her baby dolls more than once.
I’d love to know what other tips you have or what worked for you in the comments!