I can't tell you how many emails I receive that start with, "My kids toys are out of control!" As the mom to boys ages nine and six, I can totally relate. Toys seems to have a life of their own. Maybe it is that kids interests are constantly changing, or maybe it's that to many kids every toy is their favorite or maybe it's just that they have too many toys (correct answer is too many toys!!) Whatever the reason here are some solutions to help get their Play Spaces in Order.
I recommend starting the process (items 1 and 2) without your kids and then allowing them to have some say toward the end of the process.
1) Did it come in a birthday party goody bag or Happy Meal? Trash this junk.
2) Does is work? Puzzles and board games with missing pieces are no fun. Neither are toys that are broken. Anything not in good working or playing order goes.
3) Are your kids to old for the toys? As kids get older their toys for the most part get smaller. So if your kids are no longer playing with the toy kitchen let it go and free up that space for what they are playing with now. Looking for a place to donate? Cradles to Crayons provides Chicago children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school and at play.
4) Does it have a name? If you have a child who loves plush toys this can be a game changer. If your child gave the toy a legit name (not a random one, thought up on the spot) the plush toy stays. No name it gets donated. Stuffed Animals for Emergencies (SAFE) is a non-for-profit that collects stuffed animals for children in crisis. While there are no drop off locations in the Chicago area they will send you a list of organizations where you can mail your donation and help a child in need.
5) Sort all remaining toys into catagories, Lego, Polly-Pocket, Shopkins, Dress-up for example.
6) To keep toys from taking over the house the toys must fit the space, NOT the other way around. Pick a reasonable size bin or space for each category of toys. If your child has too many Lego bricks to fit the bin some of them have to go. We often think that we don't have enough space for all the toys when really our children just have too many toys.
7) Get extra credit by labeling bins. Picture labels are a great way to help non-readers (and husbands) put toys away in the correct place.
Need help getting your child's Play Space in Order? Contact me for a free onsite assessment!