To be honest, we had a toy problem long before Christmas came and graciously handed us a new crop of plastic figurines and obtrusive play sets. We were already dumping oversized buckets of toys onto the carpet to look for one specific Batman figurine. We were already running out of room.
So after Christmas came and went, we were left with no choice but to organize the chaos. (And I’m so relieved to get it done!) One giant CHECK off the endless checklist.
Here are 3 simple things we did to get our house (and our lives) back in order:
1. Create zones and homes
I put all of his Superhero bat caves and dress-up costumes in one corner of the room, with a bucket of only Superhero figurines. In another section of the room, I put all of his Jake and the Neverland Pirate play sets together, with a bucket of pirate figurines. Another corner of his room was transformed into the Ninja Turtle area — with, you guessed it, its own bucket of Ninja Turtle toys. All of his transportation toys — cars (including all of the Cars characters), trains, and planes are now confined to the train table area. And then out in the living room — in his own little nook — lives his play castle with a small bucket of other well-loved, often-played-with toys, like My Little Pony figurines and play knights.
This way he knows which bucket to look through when searching for a specific character, and he also knows where each of his toys belongs. Clean-up time is easier with specific homes.
2. Banish the “Sometimes Toys”
He helped define which toys are “always toys” and which are his “sometimes toys,” and then I put the “sometimes toys” on shelves inside of his closet. That way they’ll be in easy reach if he has friends over or has a sudden spark of inspiration, but they’re mostly out of eye shot. I put more “sometimes toys” in his toy box, which he rarely opens.
3. Trash and donate in secret
Here’s a biggie. While he was distracted by his shiny new toys in the living room, I took a big trash bag to his room. I weeded through his buckets to organize them into smaller, more manageable clusters, but I also tossed broken bits, half-missing puzzles, and mystery plastic. I put all of his less-loved figurines and duplicate characters into a box and hid it high in his closet. I quietly bagged up donation toys that I knew he’d never miss.
While there’s value in teaching a child to donate and give, there’s also the practical matter of organizing toys and chaos. And speaking from experience, that’s always better done in secret.
It’s the end of the year; time to take back your house. Go forth and organize.