Our toy situation was mayhem at BEST. We had two large heavy fabric bins when we first moved in, one held books and one held toys. They were both stuffed to the heaping, spilling over brims. I would ORGANIZE AND REORGANIZE AND REORGANIZE their toys but I finally realized that when the issue is TOO MUCH JUNK, organization isn’t the solution!
The fun for my then 10 month old and 2.5 year old wasn’t playing with any of them, it was dumping each bin out and kicking, tossing, and hurling everything from them the length of our living room, with a few landing in the adjoining dining room.
I was 6 months along with our third around this time, and got in a mood one night after bed time. So much toy clutter was the source of a lot of my frustrations, whether it was misbehavior with it all, crawling on hardwoods pregnant to pick it all up, stepping on it, scuffling through it, the baby falling over it, and feeling really ick that I couldn’t seem to ever create a space that felt peaceful and homey and welcoming to both myself hanging out here all day being a one car family, and to my husband after a long 12 hour day.
I got three trash bags full. 2 were trash, broken down toys that were cheapy junk, 1 for Goodwill, and then an assortment of toys to be put in a large plastic tote that I knew they still loved and could pull out with the intention to rotate toys.
You know that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH power that just comes and radiates through your body when you’ve had it? Maybe it was Jesus, maybe it was my patience level bursting through my weak maternity pant seams but I WAS DONE.
I had no idea what to expect when my 2.5 year old woke up the next day, since he was the only one I figured would notice if something was missing.
Do you know what happened? Peace. They had less to play with, but there was no fighting, no dumping out of anything, it was glorious. I think it’s because they weren’t OVERWHELMED with options and chaos. They actually played! With what they had! We were all SO MUCH HAPPIER!
They also got more creative! I have a bone to pick with having too many toys that DO something because I think it’s less for my children to figure out, does that make sense? So in taking away a lot of their options, they’re forced to invent new ways of playing which I think is wonderful for their little minds.
And! They want to read more books!!!! With so much to overwhelm them, books tend to take the back seat as an option for entertainment. I love being brought a book and will take all of the chances I can to read to them!
That was 20 months ago. Since then, about once a month I do this. Toys get brought down from upstairs, in from outside, the Play Doh toys get mixed in, etc. It gets hectic.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that any toy that’s a “set” LEGOs, Squigz, Bristle Blocks, big shape magnets etc. get all mixed in together every single day, and then they don’t get played with, but when I make it a point to keep them separated out they do.
Today was one of the toy sorting days and it pained me, but I had to throw away a lot of books that the puppy had chewed up. I caught him climbing the toy storage unit and getting them down! Lots had pages missing, or were icky. I’m not a hoarder, but I think it’s criminal to toss a book out! It had to be done though. RIP Goodnight Moon!
I start the process by taking every single thing out, and giving the storage unit a good wipe down. (Why are there crumbs in it!!? Always!) Then I make 2 piles-trash, and things that need to go up into the rotation bin upstairs. Then I wipe down any dirty toys or books with a rag while making note if this particular toy is one they are into right now or not. If yes, back in the toy area it goes. If no, rotation bin.
Something I do to try to be more proactive instead of reactive, is making it a point to do this before any birthdays or toy heavy holidays which if you’re my mother is all of them! And then when we do get toys that are gifts, half are put up to bring out one by one as time goes on and half are put into the toy section. Recently, we’ve expressed to family that we appreciate so much their desire to give generously, but that EXPERIENCES trump toys for gifts for us!
So, we are headed into Labor Day weekend with the entire rest of the house torn up (more on the Home reno sitch later) but at least our toys are minimized and I can breathe easy for a couple of weeks!
P.S. If you’re digging my toy storage, here is the scoop! After a year of searching for a better toy set up, I scoured the Facebook Marketplace section for a month and scored this awesome Land of Nod 2 piece storage unit (I’m not being paid or compensated to mention this store) SIX YEARS OLD!!! but in awesome shape. It fits perfectly by our fireplace, and I’ve got it set up with one bin per child, books in one shelf, and whatever else on the second. I can see this piece being used for many purposes as it grows with us!
Before and After!