Let’s talk toys. I don’t know about you but I have struggled with overbuying for my little person. I just love her so much and have fallen into the trap of wanting to give her everything that could possibly enrich her life! The root of this is good. We want to shower our kids with all the love. But love does not equal stuff. That being said, I learned it the hard way. I overbought, and the amount of toys basically overwhelmed her so that she either got bored and moved on to the next thing really quickly, or she just wouldn’t even take the toys out. OR, she’d take all the toys out and seemed unsure of where to go from there. ( I know you feel me on that one.) When there is an excess of visual stimulation, there is less peace for many of us and kids are not exempt from that. They don’t always know where to start because there’s just too many options. So we’re gonna talk about how to simplify, big time. Before we can organize toys in a way that makes them appealing to play with and easy to clean up, we need to be really intentional about what we are offering them. I’m not a stickler when it comes to the material of the toys, but I have seen the benefit of buying toys she can grow with.
For example, she has this wonderful instrument set that I got her around 10 months old. I would mostly be the one making music, and she would listen and chew on the instruments. It was simple and fun. Then after a few months she was able to start experimenting with the sounds. By 18 months she knew several simple nursery rhymes, like the itsy bitsy spider and the ABC’s, so we would have circle time singing songs and shaking the instruments. Now she’s 2 and she goes off on her own and makes up songs and plays with the drum and walks around with the whistle. And it’s something she can use for the next few years! Another example would be pretend play stuff for her kitchen which is her absolute favorite stuff. Wooden spoons and play knives, felt food, and a tea set. These are toys she can play with for years as she learn how to play restaurant and has more playdate tea parties (always a hit).
Now to the organizing.
I bought a cube organizer/shelf. Hers has 9 cubes for storage. The top 3 are filled with books. In the middle 3 cubes, she has her trains and cars in 1, a basket of stuffed animals in 1, and 2 wooden puzzle sets in the last 1. In the bottom 3 cubes she has a basket of dress up stuff in 1, more dress up items in another 1, and her instrument set in the last 1. I try to make sure the cubes are not full of toys. There’s visual clear space so that the toys are not overflowing or cluttered.
As far as play areas, In one corner of her room there’s a wooden play kitchen and a wooden table. The kitchen has a cupboard where her tea set is stored as well as a carton of wooden eggs and a few other play food items. On the table there is another basket with some play food items and play dishes. The table is a space she can manipulate her toys and be creative and it keeps her busy imagining and pretending for quite a while:)
In the living room I have a small cube organizer. It only has 3 storage cubes. 1 cube has her play animals, 1 cube has a basket of blocks, and 1 cube has her Bible based books that we like to read in the morning. Next to the cube organizer is her play farm and truck which her an her cousin take out almost every day along with the play animals to do pretend silly scenes. I also keep a big & pretty basket for the library books in the living room.
Finally she has a 3rd indoor play area. A little table with chairs where she and her cousin do arts and crafts and even pretend to cook up little meals. It’s a simple area with no toys. Just a table cloth and sometimes a decorative jar of flowers on the table.
She also has an outdoor play area. She has a little work bench with rocks and spoons and containers which is where she spends most of her time out there. She has also been gifted a lot of sports toys and has a slide and a tunnel. We’re now keeping some of the toys in a large bin since she doesn’t play with them often and we want to reduce the clutter. We decided to keep the toys however instead of donating them, because they are gifts we think she will enjoy more in the future.
It should be said I keep little bins of art supplies stored away where she doesn’t have total access to them until I designate a time. She’s little and still needs some assistance when it comes to managing things like paint and clay and glue and glitter. You can imagine why I keep them stored away:)
That brings me to my last and most helpful tip!
If there are toys you want to keep, but that your child isn’t regularly playing with, first ask yourself why you’re keeping them. Without any judgment reflect and decide if keeping them stored away is serving your family. If not donate them so another family can enjoy them! But if there are things you or your child is not ready to let go of let’s talk simple storage. If you have to rent storage space to keep this stuff, I’d really suggest trying to let go of most of it so you can put the money and energy elsewhere. But if you have a corner of your closet available like I do, try this:
Buy a couple of stackable storage bins. She has a few things she likes but doesn’t use often and I keep them clean and in sealed containers where the toys don’t collect dust. Every month or so, I rotate the toys. So if she didn’t play with the instruments much in May, I’ll trade out the instruments for some dolls. So when I take the instruments out of the cube, I’ll put a basket of doll toys in that same cube, and I’ll put the instruments up in the closet where the dolls were. This prevents overflow, clutter, and maintenance of a bunch of stuff that just ends up having to be picked up all the time.
By limiting how many toys she has access to I’ve seen her utilize them more! It’s also super awesome because even if she takes all the toys out that she has access to, it only take 15 minutes to clean them all up before bedtime because there just aren’t that many items to take out. It’s a time saver, a frustration saver, and an energy saver. This leaves you more time for playing with your kiddo instead of cleaning up after them with an attitude or exhaustion. (I can get so grumpy when I let go of myself system and end up feeling like a maid all day.) Life isn’t always easy, but keeping a simple toy system has saved me so much trouble. I hope it frees you up for more of what matters to YOU!