Welcome to this week’s edition of 4 Moms, 35 Kids: How Moms of Many Manage. This week we’re talking about managing toys.
Be sure to visit the other 4 Moms to read what they have to say:
The very best way to manage toys, at least in my opinion, is not to have any. Just send the kids outside to play with sticks, rocks and trees and have available a wide and varying assortment of boxes, string, paper, tape, markers, fabric and other supplies. While our children love that type of play they also enjoy having toys. So my ideas on toy management are mellowed by the desires of our children and we’ve compromised with aiming to not have too many toys.
Obviously the definition of “too many” toys may vary, but in our house we have a couple designated areas to keep toys and we don’t get or keep anything that doesn’t comfortably fit into those areas.
Taming the Toy Monster
Don’t collect too many:
1. Keep it simple. Choose simple, classic toys that will be enjoyed by children of all ages and avoid the flashing, talking, moving electronic toys that appeal for only a short while. Don’t be fooled by some toy manufacturers today who are making all sorts of ‘junk’ toys out of wood and trying to pass them off as classics. A toy is not a classic simply because it’s wooden.
Some of our “must haves”:
- A few quality balls – We love Oballs for inside use. They’re super easy for little ones to catch and throw and light weight enough so that when big kids get involved the balls aren’t a hazard to our indoor furnishings.
- Dolls – Each of our girls has two, a baby doll and an 18″ doll.
- Dress-ups – Our boys and girls from 2 to teen enjoy pulling from our dress up boxes.
- Building sets – We love DUPLOS for the little ones and LEGOS for the bigger kids.
- Art and craft supplies – We keep an unlimited supply of paper (that we get for free) available to our children and allow them access to crayons, pens, pencils, markers, etc.
- Cars, trucks and trains
2. Don’t buy toys. We’ve found that generally speaking, if you leave the toy buying to others, your children will end up having plenty, especially if you have more than the average number of children.
3. Get rid of toys that aren’t often used, – Usually space is at a premium for large families so make the best use of your space by only keeping toys that are used frequently. We cull through toys a few times a year and we always make one of those times November or December. Read this post for more ideas on keeping down the toy clutter.
4. Remember that toys are temporary – Our favorite way to get rid of superfluous toys is to give them to new grandparents. Our toys continue to be enjoyed by children and the grandparents are able to have a selection of toys for when the grand babies come over to play.
Keep ‘em organized:
This is where “a place for everything and everything in it’s place” comes in. If all of the toys are in a big toy box, they are likely top get dumped when one of the children is searching for a particular toy. If parts and pieces of games are all mixed together in the game closet, the children may choose not to sort through the mess to find all the pieces of the game they wish to play.
1. Use baskets to keep different types and sets of toys separate so that children are able to find what they are looking for (and put them away when they are finished).
We have separate baskets in our family/school room for baby toys, toddler puzzles, train tracks, blocks, cars and army guys. All of the children know which type of toy goes in which basket and where each basket belongs so pick-up is a snap and they always know where to find what they are looking for.
2. Use Ziploc bags – I use Ziploc bags to organize some toys within our baskets. I put all the pieces of our toddler puzzles into a Ziploc and then store the bag with the frame. Card games and games with small pieces also get bagged.
3. Keep toys in the area you wish the children to play with them. This prevents some of the toy trail that happens otherwise. We keep ‘quiet’ toys in our school room and ‘louder’ more active toys downstairs in the playroom and we keep very few toys in bedrooms which makes it easy to keep bedrooms tidy.
4. Shelves are another of our favorite ways to store toys. Shelves allow the children to see exactly what they have available and prevents them from easily dumping them all onto the floor. (Oh, trust me they can still dump it’s just a little more time consuming for them. )
5. Rotate toys – We actually don’t do this in our home because although we have loads of living space, we don’t have much storage space. But I have friends that have wonderful systems for rotating toys in and out of storage.
Since I’ve spent the blog week documenting some of Colby’s antics and even sharing his catastrophic Christmas tale, I figure that it’s only fair to say publicly that Colby is one of my BEST organizers and picker-uppers.
Visit the other moms of many to read their thoughts on toy management:
Past 4 Moms posts:
The upcoming 4 Moms posts:
- 16 – feeding company
- 23 – Questions for the Four Moms
- 30 - Teaching children to do their chores
For more Moms of Many posts visit the 4 Moms page.