The thing with having 4 kids is there is clutter . Times four. We've tried a lot of different strategies when trying to battle the toy clutter monster, and some have worked for a while and fizzled out, some worked not at all, but here are a few things that have helped us keep the clutter to a minimum:
1. Go through the toys, every single one, at least twice a year. Make it a spring and fall cleaning, or during summer break and before the holidays. Throw away any broken and unrepairable toys, and donate the toys that the kids have grown out of or don't play with anymore. Get the kids involved in this process and talk about blessing other children with the toys that are donated.
2. Figure out what toys are played with most. In our house it is Lego's and board games. Lego's are my nemesis. I'm always stepping on them in the middle of the night, or sucking them up in the vacuum. We started using under-the-bed plastic containers for individual projects or cities or anything else under construction. Then the whole container can be scooted under the bed and brought out the next day.
3. Keep some toys portable. This worked really well when the kids were younger but didn't need diaper bags anymore and I was tired of carting hot wheels cars around in my purse. We would keep a backpack with some books and small toys always packed in it, then we could grab and go on the way to ball games or appointments.
4. Keep it simple. It's not necessary to sort every single toy out, but go with a system that the kids can keep up themselves. They are not going to want to sort toys by color or alphabetically, but size or type is doable.
5. Have a toy hospital bucket. Any toys that are broken and can be repaired or need new batteries can have their own bucket or bag, then when there is time to deal with them they are all in one place. Have the kids do as much of the repairs on the toys as they are able to. It will give them a sense of pride and accomplishment, and teach them to treat their toys responsibly.
6. Rotate toys. If you find that you are just overwhelmed with the number of toys that your kids have, pack some away for a month or so, then pull them back out and pack some of the others away. This doesn't have to be done with the "favorite" toys, but some that aren't played with as much.
7. Ziplock bags are a mom's best friend. Use them to corral puzzles, game pieces, crayons, small collections, and anything else you can think of. Since they're clear and don't take up any extra space, they are a no-brainer when it comes to organizing toys.
8. Keep board games on a high shelf. I can't tell you the number of times we've had to go through and pick up all of the little pieces and cards and everything else that comes in the many board games we have. It's a nightmare! We keep the boardgames up high so they will survive the toy finding frenzy intact. This is where tip #7 comes in handy.
9. Label drawers and bins that can't be seen into easily. The kids can help with this one. Give them a sheet of labels and a sharpie and have them write or draw a picture of what goes in them, or take pictures of the toys, print, and attach the picture. Anything to make cleanup that much easier.
10. Keep the kids involved. If they have the responsibility of picking up the toys, they need to be involved in de-cluttering the toys, too.
These are my ten best strategies for de-cluttering and organizing toys in our kid's rooms. Keeping on top of things definitely helps mom AND the kids enjoy the toys even more.
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hot Wheels® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.