TIPS FOR ORGANISING CHILDREN’S TOYS
Adapted from a post on Be A Fun Mum by Tim Riley
Before we can teach children to put away their toys, we have to create a system that is accessible to them and which is easy to use. The following 10 tips for organising your children’s toys are suggestions to help you create a system which is also easy to maintain and simple to use. Your final system will depend on your child, his age and your resources (size of home, if you are full-time or part-time working mum and do you have any part-time or help from another adult). Once a system is set up, it will have to be tweaked to suit changing circumstances.
As we introduce our children to our system, they learn that if systems are followed they reap many benefits. You are building the foundation for their lives to be organized.
1. Define A Play Area
Toys strewn all over the house is both unsightly and dangerous. Solution lies in creating defined play areas in the home. Those with large homes can set aside one room as a play area. Those with smaller residences might consider restricting play to bedrooms, and a corner of the living area. In so doing, parents have also provided a means for easier cleanup.
2. Limit the Number of Toys allowed for each play time.
Children may possess a great number of toys but allow them to take out only a limited number of toys for play each time. An excess number of toys easily overwhelm a child and they also lose concentration.
To reduce the number of toys in the home, begin by eliminating duplicate toys, broken toys and toys that children do not use (perhaps the toys are not age appropriate, keep these for later on).
3. Be Realistic About Size
Children like big riding toys, tents, tunnels and play houses, but storage of these toys can become difficult of your home lacks adequate space for them. When you buy a large toy, choose a model that easily disassembles to save space. If not, resist the temptation to buy them. Perhaps opportunities may arise to play with similar ones at friend’s homes or in the parks?
4. Sort ‘n Store
Categorize toys by type (Cars, dolls, puzzles, etc.) and store them together in separate large boxes rather than dumping all types of toys into a huge toy box. Doing this reduces clutter while giving children more options when they decide what to play with.
Unless the child is very young and you are starting to teach them to help pack bulkier toys away, I don’t like teaching children to clear by just dropping toys into a large box. This method causes damage to the toys if the box is very large, it is difficult for children to locate their toys in the box and they spend a lot of time rummaging through the large box.
An exception would be when children have such busy schedules that occasionally they don’t have time to get all their toys put back at once. For these occasions, try using a laundry basket or blanket as a way to quickly collect toys for later storage. Don’t forget to come back to sort!
5. Re-pack toys in their boxes for as long as possible
For toys like Lego and many other construction or Fix-it toys which consists of many parts, I like to use the original boxes for as long as possible since instructions and a list of parts are usually found printed on the boxes. After a while you will find that their boxes fray and threaten to fall apart.
My solution is to use another cardboard box, cut out the main photo/s and instructions and tape these onto the new box. Keep all instruction sheets! Look at the photo below. That toy and its box is more than 2 decades old. Now, children of our guests enjoy this toy and the picture guides them on how to play with it.
6. Cycle And Schedule Toys
When dealing with a toy surplus, rotate some of them into a cupboard or another part of the house. This eases storage issues in your living space, while helping to create new experiences when the stored toys re-enter the player areas.
7. Use Toy Shelves
Shelves help children see what toys they have. When storage boxes are used, try labelling them with large words or pictures to help children identify their contents. Shelving gets toys and boxes off the floor and usually is an affordable solution.
8. Keep Some Toys Out Of Reach
Puzzles, models, play bricks and other toys with lots of pieces can create a disaster when children take them out at random intervals. Parents can decide if their children have enough time to get out these complicated objects and help prevent getting the pieces mixed up.
9. Establish Rules
Teach children how many toys they can have out at once. This limits clean up and encourages children to finish one activity before starting a new one.
My children used to get so many presents on their birthdays and at Christmas we had a rule that they can only open two toys per week. They were allowed to choose which ones to open first.
10. Put Safety First
Toys and storage boxes stacked on top of each other can easily tip over and fall. Find ways to keep toys low and use shelves and cabinets where necessary to keep children safe.