ORGANIZE WHAT’S LEFT
I mentioned in my previous post that the main thing I was struggling with in my home was toys. My kids have been blessed with lots of fun birthday parties, Christmases, a total doting mother who LOVES to buy people presents (that’s me, folks), and family who shower them with toys and gifts constantly, but it has become overwhelming. My kids flit and flop from toy to toy, and then they’ll go a whole week just playing in laundry baskets or pretending play-doh is characters from Tarzan. Regardless, I spent HOURS picking up toys and trying to get the reorganized.
I tried a bunch of methods – organizing everything into small bags, putting things in bins, just throwing everything in the toy box, keeping it all in one room, splitting it up between several rooms, etc. Then a friend of mine posted on Facebook about some research that shows we should limit the toys kids play with to teach them to extend their attention spans and to refresh them toward particular toys, and I was inspired!
I present to you:
DAYS OF THE WEEK TOY BINS
I started by going very hardcore KonMari and putting every single toy in the entire house on my bed. It was special. This really does put into perspective how much of everything one actually owns. My guilty soul envisions starving children in China (my parents always said China, although many of my friends insist it should be Africa, but that’s neither here nor there)(literally, it’s not here, because “here” is central Illinois) aching for something at all while I sit in such incredible excess, throwing my bazillion toys casually over my head in glee.
I started with a trash bag for trash, another for give away, and then I left the remaining toys on the bed. I have all these awesome zipper bags that Ryan’s mom has sewn us, so I started sorting the remaining toys into categories as best I could.
After sorting everything into zipper bags, I ended up putting a few more toys in the “give away” bag because I didn’t have room for them in zipper bags. I also determined at that point that there would be some toys that I wanted only available with adult supervision. I mean, we all know about #AshesGate2018 and #CabinetsGate2018 – my children, though intelligent and beautiful, are truly gifted at destroying things. I decided I didn’t want to put every toy in the days-of-the-week bins, since I could easily see disaster occuring from that kind of freedom.
So, I split everything that I considered “dangerous” or “PG – Parental Guidance Suggested” in their own bins. This ended up being a lot of craft supplies, like a bin for play-doh, one for crayons, markers, colored pencils, and coloring books, all the K-Nex (because those have teeny tiny pieces that Grace would definitely try to eat), puzzles, and games (again with the small, easy-to-lose pieces).
After putting the items in the boxes, I used little Velcro squares, index cards, sharpies, and our little pocket laminator to make labels for them. #nerdalert but seriously, that was so fun! I ended up putting those bins on the top of Ellie’s closet. Most of the other bins are going to be in Jared’s closet, since playtime is usually in his room.
After going through those, I had lots of toys left in various categories. Some examples include Ellie’s people and doll houses, Jared’s vehicles and PJ Masks toys, Ellie’s magnetic paper dolls, Jared’s toolkit, and things along that line. I ended up putting all of Ellie’s bags of toys in one pile, and all of Jared’s in the other.
The next determination was – which toys should they access on which days? They definitely have favorites – Ellie’s people and doll houses and Jared’s PJ Masks toys are definitely favorites. I decided make one bin the Monday AND Friday bin. This was for several reasons – we have two babysitters: a Monday/Thursday sitter and a Tuesday/Friday sitter. Giving the same bin on Monday and Friday meant that each sitter gets to experience the kids playing with their most favorite toys (and therefore not having as many potential fights or grumpies). Also, two days guarantees that my kids enjoy their favorite toys more often, but are still forced to play regularly with their less-loved toys, too.
I labeled one bin Monday and Friday, another Tuesday, another Wednesday, and another Thursday. Then I started putting the zipper bags in each bin based on what the kids like best so that they have something they really enjoy each day of the week. Then I placed them all in the top of Jared’s closet.
I also put all of the stuffed animals, dolls, and doll accessories in some Thirty-One under-bed storage containers that I already had. Ellie really enjoys getting out her stuffed animals, and I really enjoy how easy it is to clean them up now!
We also had some toys that were too big for the kids to fit in bins, but that they regularly play with. These are mostly vehicles that are Jared’s, so I decided they could live in his toy box. We attached a lock (using one of those toddler-proof toilet locks) so that we can open the toy box when we decide to. It has worked well!
It has been working great! Each time the kids play, they just throw everything into one bin and it goes back in the top of the closet or under the bed or in the toy box. Every toy in the house has a home, and it doesn’t take very long to get it all cleaned up. The kids are refreshed toward their toys because they only play with them once or twice a week, and they don’t mind helping clean up either since it doesn’t take very long.
One other unexpected bonus is that it can serve as a reward. When Jared is particularly good, we make a big fuss about taking down whatever days’ toys he wants. He gets so excited choosing the “Wednesday” bin or the “Tuesday” bin on his special days. (This is also how we approach Saturday and Sunday.)
It has been working great for a few weeks now, with no toys all around the house! I’m grateful for my days-of-the-week toy bins! I hope you find it helpful – maybe you can share about a method that has worked for you!