Sunday, July 1, 2007

Question on Clutter

Here's a question that I just got in:

How do you keep the kids' toys under control? I have four kids that all have their "stuff" that is geared for their age. Individually, they don't have tons of toys, but multiplied by four it all adds up and drives me crazy.

Well, mama, just take what you have and double it. That's what I've got going on around here. First of all, it helps to divide the toys into two categories--personal property and communal property. In a big family like the one I have, most toys are considered communal property. However, there are some special items that are thrown into the mix as well. Keep the personal items (like Klara's Barbie dolls or Karis's pirate ship) in a special place in their room. Now, take all of the communal property and do two things with it:

1. Give away what you don't need (you'll be surprised at how much junk there is thrown in with the toys...).

2. Pack up the toys that they like, but no longer play with.
This is a great tactic because you are not giving the toys away, but you are opening up space for them to play with the toys that they are currently "into." When the thrill wears off, just pack up the current toys and bring out the other ones that you packed away earlier. Even though they are "used," to the kids they will seem brand new! I do this all the time, it's like a swap meet every season. All of a sudden, "new" toys appear and the kids squeal with delight, "Wow! I remember this!" Now you have happy kids, open space, and money in your wallet. Sounds like a winner to me!

And MOMS--if you have something to add, please feel free to post it. We're all in this together. Thanks!


Sandee said...

What a super elegant way to handle this problem...Thanks for sharing it with us Hannah

The Eckerts said...

Hannah, I'm so glad you have a blog. I wasn't around for when you have it before, but I have enjoyed your Monday Morning Motivators for a few months now. Keep up the good work!

I have just started doing this tip with my son, and it's working great!

L. said...

(Actually, it's MaryP, not "L"! Blogger doesn't recognize WordPress blogs when the comments are set to refuse anonymous commenters! Hello!)

With three kids of my own, five stepkids, AND a home daycare in my small house, this is something I deal with all the time.

Like Hannah, I rotate the toys. That about halves the amount of "stuff" right there. Again like Hannah, the vast majority of toys when all the kids were younger were communal.

I also make use of non-conventional storage. There is toy storage in just about every room. The cabinet in my dining room has glass doors on the top 2/3: I keep the china there. HOWEVER, it has wooden doors on the bottom third - there we store puzzles, nesting toys, playdough and music toys.

In my kitchen there is a red, four-drawer tool cabinet. (A tool cabinet! In my kitchen!) On top of it, I have put a lovely wooden chopping block, so I have a preparation station on wheels. HOWEVER, the four drawers are filled with craft supplies.

If you're creative, you can have all manner of stuff stored, and no one would know it was there!

And the final key? Kids need a LOT fewer toys and less stuff than we think! If a toy can be put away for six months and never missed? It doesn't need to be in the house!

AC said...

What great advice! We do many of the same things. We get the boys involved in sorting through the toys and chosing items to donate to a local women and children's shelter. The boys feel so proud once we are done. They now start finding things to give away without even being asked!!

Plashak said...

I loved all the comments and info on the clutter of toys. I had my second child two months ago and now that I am home full time I have noticed all the toys and trying to come to terms with the world of plastic in which I live.
Happy 4th everyone!!

Carole said...

2 things always worked for me -

The first was bins. The smaller plastic ones with lids. We had one for toy dogs, one for cars, one for furniture, and so on. Then we had plastic crates for stuffed animals. My daughter had to take a few minutes every night before bed and put her toys away.

She caught on to garage sales very early in life. She could sell the toys she no longer wanted and have money to buy new ones. She always made more money than I did!

And like Mary, we had bins of art supplies in the dining room - bins of video games in the living room. It works.