Happy New Year, moms and dads! Have you stepped on a rogue Lego yet? Tripped over that new toy castle? Or stepped on your daughter’s beloved American Girl doll?
Yep, I bet you have. Me too!
Toy organization for the new year is not an easy thing, when you’re juggling old toys with the new ones. I always have an urge to toss everything, but I know that’s not fair or rational. Instead, we try to head off the problem by purging right after Thanksgiving. We tell our four-year-old that Santa requires a donation in order to bring more toys, so we weed through what he doesn’t play with, what’s broken, and what is too “babyish” for him, but somehow hasn’t made it up to the attic.
It’s not easy for our son to weed through his toys – he wants to keep all of them. Which means a lot of it is me sitting with 7 trucks in front of me, telling him he can keep 3 and to pick 4 to give to another boy that doesn’t have trucks.
Along with donation, these are my favorite steps for keeping toys organized after the holidays:
Step 1: Take inventory of the toys you have 1 of 7
This starts weeks before the purging of toys. Take notice of what your child plays with and what gets ignored. Are there any toys he can't reach? Are you missing any basics that would help him play? What does his craft bin look like these days - are all the crayons broken? This requires no action on the child's part, it's just you watching him play.
Step 2: Purge anything that doesn’t get used 2 of 7
We do this multiple times through the year, but it's good practice, especially after the holidays. Talk to your kids about what is going to happen - they can't keep all these toys. Throw out what is broken (if it can't be fixed). Donate what isn't loved or used. And box up the toys they've outgrown for future children (or donate if you're done procreating).
Step 3: Give toys away to kids who need them 3 of 7
We make it a point both before and after Christmas to run toy donations. There are so many places that will take used toys at the holiday, that I prefer to donate. I love this idea of the Elf on the Shelf coming to request toy donations for Santa. This could work before Christmas as a way to make space, or maybe have the Elf come back for a night in January.
Step 4: Simplify your toy storage 4 of 7
Find yourself cursing the floppy cardboard boxes of card games? Then stop! Use old diaper wipe bins to hold the games. Going insane with the constant DVD cases? Then toss the cases and keep the DVDs in an old CD case or store them digital. There is no reason to hold onto the original case if it's just not working for you.
source: Jazzie and Tahlia blog
Step 5: Use transparent containers so it’s easy for kids 5 of 7
Make the toys he uses easily seen so he knows what he has and instructions on storage are clear. For example, separate glass bins for crayons, toy soldiers, or small animals. Get clear bins for Legos, train sets, matchbox cars. That way it is easy for everyone to sort and take regular inventory without dumping an entire bin.
Step 6: Integrate your storage into your decor 6 of 7
Just because it's toy storage doesn't mean it has to be unattractive or stick out like a sore thumb. Integrate it into your decor and you may find that you can keep toys in the living room without feeling suffocated as an adult. We have an Ikea Expedit (like the one pictured above) that is home for our television, but underneath are bins of toy storage that don't necessarily look like toy storage.
source: The Home of Bambou blog
Step 7: Rotate which toys are out, so the toy selection always feels new! 7 of 7
Don't keep all of his toys out all of the time. Pack some of them up for rotation and every few weeks or months, swap out the toys. He'll feel like he has a constant flow of new things, or things he missed playing with, which means you buy less new stuff. It also cuts down on the amount on your floor with half of his toys in storage.