Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Containing Kid Clutter

I've gotten a lot of requests from people asking how we contain all of the "stuff" that goes along with having kids.

Specifically . . . people want to know what we do with all the PLASTIC that kids play with.

No, we're not one of those Waldorf families that only has their kids play with toys made from natural resources.

I wish we were.

But I can't turn down good, clean, hand-me-down plastic toys.

And my sister-in-law Kim has A LOT of plastic toys that she's so graciously handed over to Noah.

Sure, wood toys look so much nicer, but there are some really cool plastic toys and frankly,
I'm not a toy snob.

Especially when I didn't have to spend a dime.

So how do we manage it all?

Well, like anyone else . . . it accumulates and accumulates and then I take a step back one day and realize my house has become one giant piece of brightly colored plastic that makes lots of obnoxious noises over

and over

and over


I realize that Noah isn't playing with a lot of his plastic either.

And then I decide, enough is enough.

I'm going to get this toy situation under control once and for all.

So first, I pick out ONLY the toys that Noah plays with on a regular basis.  I don't spend a whole lot of time hemming and hawing about it. I just grab about 10 toys in his bedroom that he plays with.

I empty out his entire toy box and clean everything off the floor that he doesn't play with and I store it in a plastic bin in his closet.  These are toys that I will rotate out when he tires of his "most favorite" toys.

I place the toys I've picked out as his favorites and I put them in his toy chest.

I'm a fan of baskets, bins and things that close to hide the toys. 

Choosing only Noah's favorite toys has really been quite refreshing.

He doesn't feel overwhelmed by clutter and has actually sat down and played with his toys for an extended period of time.  He also knows where he can find his favorite toys quickly.

I also created a few baskets of some of the toys he plays with.

He has a basket of plastic blocks

And a basket of wood blocks.

A basket of balls (his absolute favorite)

And several baskets of books.

And of course, he has some larger, more obnoxious toys that cannot be stuffed in a box or bin.

And we have a damp, unfinished basement so there is no "play room."

We just put these larger toys off to one side of his room (and yes, he does play with them).

Puzzles are stored under his dresser. You can't see them when you're just hanging out in the room, but Noah knows where to find them.

Making sure everything has its own basket/bin/spot makes it easy for me to clean up quickly before it's time for Noah to go to bed.  I don't have eight million toys crammed in eight different places. It's easy: blocks, balls and books each go in their own basket, favorite toys go in the toy chest and puzzles go under the dresser. 

Easy enough.  And everything looks so nice when it's all stored in its own place.

As for other rooms in the house, Noah has a rocking horse that a friend gave him for his birthday. It's on display in our sitting room and he enjoys riding on it from time to time.  

We have a wicker basket with a lid in the living room that again has only a few of his favorite toys.  As he gets bored, we will rotate these with the toys that are stored in his closet. 
(Don't mind my spindly plant. I'm not sure what we're doing wrong . . . advice is appreciated)

Who would've known that basket houses this

And when you look into our living room, you don't see piles and piles of plastic obnoxiousness. 

But behind our piano is a little evidence that there IS a toddler running around. We have another basket of books (I love books and think they should be in every room) and Noah's favorite little toy to push around when he walks.

The kitchen houses one toy, which Noah has almost outgrown.  It's what I call his plastic babysitter.  We use it when we cook and want him to stay in one place so he doesn't hurt himself.

His other favorite "toys" in the kitchen are pretty simple:


It's true that kids don't NEED all the stuff they have now a days so it's important to simplify . . . but I believe there also needs to be a balance so that we're not so obsessed with keeping thing neat and tidy that we deny our kids an important part of development -- play.

And what's far more important than having a perfect house is having a happy child! 

What about you? What's your system for toys? 


1 comment:

  1. Hi Stephenie.
    Noah is such a cutie patootie! Your home always looks so beautiful and organized. For me, the key is to stay on top of things. If it gets too far off track I get overwhelmed. When my daughters were younger they accumulated a lot of toys. I soon noticed they were playing with the same ones because they too were overwhelmed (by the choices). Like you, I took all but 10-12 toys and stored them away. I changed them every 4-6 weeks. It prevented clutter and boredom. I also had my children sort through their possessions quarterly -- keep, toss, donate, sell. Anything they sold at yard sales was their money.
    I think too many parents over-indulge children with things when all they want is our time. Books, paper, crayons, paint, music, ball, walks and lots of love are the best things to share with little ones. It's clear by the smile on Noah's and Imani's faces that their parents know this!
    Your Friend,


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