Spring is in the air! Open your windows, freshen up the blankets and pillows, and clean the winter grime from your house. As the spring-cleaning bug takes hold of you and your family, make time to go through and organize toys in your home. Reduce clutter by getting rid of toys that are no longer being used and organizing the ones you keep. Here are a few tips to get you going.
1. Put all of the toys in one place. Whether you have one child or eight, toys accumulate. They end up under beds, in sofa cushions, and tucked away in whatever corner your child creatively repurposed as a play-space. Gathering all the toys in your house will take some time, so get the entire family to help you create a giant toy-dump somewhere in an open area of your house. This will give everyone the opportunity to rediscover toys they've forgotten, and it will give you a bird's-eye view of the amount of toys you're dealing with.
2. Allow family members to sort out their must-keeps. A raggedy stuffed bear may look like something ready for the trash, but it could be your child's absolute favorite toy. Clearing away clutter and giving away toys selflessly are great concepts for children to learn, but taking away a favorite toy could break the child's heart. Consider giving each child a bin (size depends on your discretion) and allowing them to fill it with the toys they can't live without. Reassure them these toys will not be given away or thrown out.
3. Put together sets of toys. Frustrating doesn't even begin to cover the feeling you get when a game piece is missing or an important LEGO piece can't be found. This is your opportunity to return those wandering parts to their homes. Are your boxes breaking? Use a roll of duct tape to secure the corners, or organize groups of items in large Ziploc bags. Doll clothes can go in one, and train track segments can go in another. As you and your helpers sift through the pile and put items where they belong, be sure to label each bag or box.
4. Keep a trash bin nearby. Some toys will be broken, useless, or just junky and unnecessary. Toss them. If the kids fish them out of the trash, remind them that they had the chance to keep their favorites. Also remind them of birthdays and other gift-giving holidays when they will be likely to receive more toys. They have to get rid of some of the old things to make room for the new!
5. Decide which toys can be donated. Some toys are still good, but maybe your kids have outgrown them, or they were never played with much. Put these lightly-used discards in a box of their own. You can try to resell them in a yard sale, or donate them to a secondhand store.
6. Put the toys away! Now that you and your children have sorted through all the toys in the house, you can decide what to do with the ones you keep. You might like to try a rotating toy system. Put out a few toys to play with now, and store the rest for later. In a month (or whenever your kids need something exciting to do), swap out the toys. You can also promote good organizational skills by storing toys in labeled bins. This keeps things neat, tidy, and easy to find. Or, if you're tired of tripping over toys in your living room, keep the toys in the kids' rooms.
Whether you are trying to minimize the items in your house or find space in your crowded home, organizing toys is an essential step to declutter. As you go through the process, don't forget to have fun and be silly with your children. You are dealing with toys, after all!