Some thoughts on toy clutter

Some thoughts on toy clutter ZoeAtHome.com

I’ve always been a homebody. And house-proud too. So I’ve had to accept that it’s really difficult to keep the house tidy with kids. But I do know that while my children love to have all their toys all over the floor and build elaborate scenes with them, they also love it when they come home and some magic fairy (me) has cleaned it all up for them! They like order and disorder.

These baskets are the best investment I ever made in keeping my house tidy. You can easily toss larger toys in them for a quick clean-up. And the children can help too because they’re at their height.

Baskets for stashing kids' toys ZoeAtHome.com

These storage ottomans are also great for storing toys. But be careful, because toys just seem to multiply in them!

Storage Ottomans ZoeAtHome.com

Some toys come with their own sturdy storage boxes. The cardboard boxes that toys are packaged in usually just create more mess. And in these days of mass production, I doubt any of them will be worth much in fifty years’ time.

Toy storage ideas ZoeAtHome.com

Some organisation experts recommend you store everything in labelled boxes and then put only one box out at a time, on rotation, to keep children interested. But I could never find any boxes that would fit all the pieces of a set and stack together and fit in the narrow sections of our cupboards. I don’t have time for a complex system: I have kids!

So perhaps it’s worth thinking about what’s causing the clutter…

  • Beware the words “collect them all!” Toys that are part of a movie or television franchise are the worst for this. They can’t make a movie or TV program without a line of merchandise to subsidise it. These days, I’m trying to encourage my children not to buy into these types of toys. In my experience, you can’t Collect Them All. There will always be more.
  • Beware toys that only do one thing. Educators talk about open-ended vs closed activities. With some toys, all you can do with them is press a button to make a sound or play a song. But others, like construction sets, can keep children amused for hours. Once you’ve accumulated enough pieces, the possibilities are only limited by your children’s imaginations.
  • Toys are labelled ‘educational’ to make parents feel guilty for not buying them! The best educational experience children can have is time with their parents. Bring them into your world: if you are a good swimmer, teach them to swim. If you are artistic, sit down and paint with them. Or simply read them the stories you enjoyed as a child. Share your passions with them.
  • Buy quality, well-made toys. Wooden and die-cast toys are much better than cheaper plastic ones, if only because children can get really upset when those intricate plastic toys smash with the slightest bump. It’s quality over quantity I suppose.

The hardest thing for me was realising that I’d have to lower my standards for the way I keep house. I have a pick-up at the end of the day, and I always ask my children to pack up what they are using before they get another toy out. Other than that, I try not to be too much of a control-freak at home.

How do you keep the clutter under control? What really works for you?

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