If you have kids, you know their toys and craft supplies can drive you insane. They seem to multiply over night! You find them in the bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, even the car.
Wouldn't it feel great to feel a sense of control over those toys/crafts once and for all?
It's possible to bring order out of chaos. I'll help you get started with my 5 strategies for toy sanity.
1. Reduce the toy/craft inventory.
Not just once but several times a year. Let's be honest, your kids probably don't play with all their toys. They may even feel just as overwhelmed as you are.
The best time to purge is before birthdays, Christmas and other gift giving holidays. It's impossible to stay organized and live within your home's limits if you add without subtracting.
Toss broken toys, dried up craft supplies, toys with too many missing parts, and donate or store items they have outgrown or no longer play with. Your kids will survive and it's good to teach them that it's okay to let go of things and to set limits.
As a last resort, put half of the toys in storage, but only if you have the room, and swap them out every few months.
Decide on a toy/craft purging date and mark it on your calendar.
2. Sort the remaining toys/crafts.
This means grouping the similar items together and containing them in clear containers. Containers with lids work best because they are stackable. Large items or games may not require a container.
Now your kids will know where to find their action figures, barbies, markers, colored pencils, dress up clothing, dolls, trucks, etc.
Measure your spaces to determine container sizes before you head out to the store.
3. Label the containers.
Simplify clean up time with labeled containers. Use a written label for older kids and photos as labels for preschoolers. Don't hesitate to label shelves if it's helpful.
Do you have containers that need labeling?
4. Store games, puzzles and craft supplies on high shelves.
Besides small parts being a safety issue, I found it maddening when a multitude of games and puzzles were dumped on the floor all at once, partly because I'm a control freak and partly because no one wanted to clean it up.
We have one child, but even so, this became a common event during play dates. I kept craft items out of reach until my daughter was old enough to trust with markers and scissors. I don't have any stories about her cutting her own hair or drawing on walls but I'm okay with that.
Find a space to store these items in your home.
5. Regular clean up.
Maintaining organization is just as important as the organization itself. You will have to be very involved in this process until your kids are grade school age.
Remind yourself that if the toys/crafts are cleaned up at least once a day, the task won't be as dreadful. Now that you have homes (containers and shelves) for their things it should require less effort.
Be very specific about what "clean up" means. Just like us, kids will feel completely overwhelmed unless you break up the task into smaller, specific tasks. For example, have them clean up the game they are playing, then all the books, and then the action figures.
Require a quick pick up before they take out another game/puzzle, before they go outside, before a play date ends, before leaving for an activity, or at least at the end of the day.
Start regular pick-ups today!
Are you looking forward to having less chaos and mess in your home? Set an hour aside every week and begin with the first step, liquidating.