Toys - Not
Organizing Kids Toys
having friends over to
visit when our kids were small but one night, when it was time to end
the evening, we went to get the
children and I remember standing in the
midst of a room that looked like a bomb had gone off in the toy
box. I'm sure they had pulled out every single Lego, car,
and puzzle that our kids owned. You couldn't even see the floor for the
mess, it was a disaster! Until that moment, I hadn't realized how many
toys my kids had.
I decided something had
to be done; it was time for a complete overhaul of the
Here are some of the strategies I used to get the toys
'active' went to the playroom in the basement. Outdoors, we
fenced off the back yard and made a play area in one corner with a sand
box and swings. We stored the outdoor toys in the garage in
summer and in the basement during the winter.
a library card and once every two weeks we all went to the library and
borrowed books, videos and audio tapes. It is much cheaper than buying
you get a variety of free entertainment. Set aside one shelf where the
borrowed items are kept, so they don't get mixed in with your own books
best investments was a membership in a toy co-operative. For
a small yearly fee ( I think it was about $25.00) we could borrow
quality sturdy wooden, handmade toys. They had been purchased from
non-profit agencies for the mentally handicapped and from a seniors
workshop. They had beautiful puzzles, games, trucks, cars...all sorts
of excellent toys for young children. Once you paid your yearly
membership, you could go and take out toys much like you go to the
library to borrow books.
got to play with toys we never could have afforded and they enjoyed
choosing new playthings every couple of weeks. If you don't have a toy
co-op in your area, perhaps you could start one up with other families
in your neighbourhood.
for kids to put their
things away by providing hooks, shelves and storage areas they can
Store toys with small parts ie: Lego,
puzzles or building logs etc. in see through plastic containers or
plastic ice-cream buckets with lids.
Make, or buy a large toy box so the children can quickly pick up larger
toys and get them up off the floor when cleaning up the play area.
Large plastic storage bins or garbage cans make excellent toy boxes.
plastic shoe holder is a neat and inexpensive way to store small
stuffed animals or anything that you don't want to toss into the toy
box. Just hang it in a convenient place where it can be reached by the
little people. These are fairly easy to make yourself if you are handy
with a needle.
Netting can be strung up on the
wall to hold any stuffed toys and other bulky items that aren't too
heavy. The items can be stuck between the net and the wall so the toys
are visible but up off the floor and stored neatly out of the way.
Look for wooden wine racks, at garage sales or thrift stores. Most are
like new and they make good storage racks. Fill a Pringles potato chip
can (cylinder) with small puzzle pieces, little cars or other small
things and then store the cans in the cubbyholes of the wine rack.
Plastic or wicker laundry baskets are
handy for odds and ends that don't fit anywhere else.
Trunks, old dressers or chests are
great places to store old clothing for dress up games. Go through your
closet and see if there are items you don't want like purses, hats or
clothing and donate it to the dress-up bin.
Old dish drainers or plate racks are good for storing small books,
records and tapes.
painting centre, either in the basement laundry room or set
aside a space in the bathroom or in a kitchen cupboard to be used just
for painting supplies. Keep finger paints and other art supplies in
this area and insist that they be put back only after everything has
been cleaned up.
have fewer possessions they treasure them more. Less is
better! When shopping for children's gifts, get the best you
afford and buy one gift rather than several.
Stage a regular 'weed out' day and encourage the children to donate
toys for a worthy cause or let them sell a few at your next
Teach your children to take care of their belongings and set a good
example by taking care of your own things properly. Toys - like
anything else - occasionally need a wash. Get the kids in the habit of
cleaning them. Make sure you show them exactly how to do this so they
don't soak everything down and ruin anything. Most toys just need a
wipe with a damp cloth. I suggest using a disinfectant in the wash
Last, but not least, while it is nice if children pick up their toys on
their own, if you expect them to help you with household chores, it's
only fair that you help them with their toy pick-up. It's always more
effective when you pitch in but make sure you let them know this is
their responsibility and you are only the 'helper'.:)
© 2003 Judy Brown