Ask Erin: Helpful Ways to Deal with Toy Clutter
article by Erin Sharplin Love
Take it from me, the mother of a two-year-old boy and a four-month-old girl, organizing toys and other paraphernalia that come with having children takes constant attention. Out of necessity, I formulated a few fun ideas to stay on top of the clutter, so it doesn’t overrun our household. As a professional organizer, I also know that I’m not the only one to face this situation! So, for those of you who could use a little help in this department, below are a few helpful ways to deal with toy clutter:
Watch your child’s habits carefully. For instance, does he love balls, but not care about Legos? What about those tiny toy characters? Analyze monthly what your child plays with and what he doesn’t. Next, make sure the items he doesn’t play with are age appropriate. If they are, separate them from those he has outgrown and store them in a box in the top of a closet or in the attic. If after another month he hasn’t missed anything that is inside the box, donate it to a non-profit organization. If there happens to be an item that he is too young for in the box, hold onto it to see if he will play with it as he ages.
Set some rules. For instance, I like the “one in, one out” rule for toys if you are already out of room, especially if the new toy is something the child asks for himself. Let your child choose which toy he would like to donate to make room for the new toy.
Make it fun! When it’s time to clear the clutter, make it a fun game that your child can participate in. For instance, set up a mock garage sale in your home and let your child choose what he or she would like to sell. You may even decide to trade the items for actual money that can go in the piggy bank!
Try rotating. I personally use this tip! At one point I realized that there was no way Eli could play with all of his toys at one time, so I began rotating them! When I feel as though he is getting bored with his current set of toys, I swap the old toys for the “new” toys, and all is well. A few months later, I swap again. I keep the swap set of toys in the top of one of Eli’s closets. I also suggest that you cull the toys and remove any items that your child has outgrown at this time.
Organize in a way that makes clean up easier. In other words, baskets and bins will be your friend! I suggest having separate bins for each type of item – balls, stuffed animals, Barbies, toy cars and trucks, etc. You can go one step further and label each bin or basket with a picture of what goes inside, so clean up is easier.
Designate at least one room as toy free. If you are like me, your children have inched their way into almost every room of the house by now. Tame that clutter by designating at least one room as being toy free. If there is no other place for the toys to be stored, that should be your cue to start a donation box immediately.
Rethink the toy box. A toy box may seem like a good idea at the time, but in reality it can become a bottomless pit of unused toys. Instead, I recommend a shelving unit that holds labeled baskets and bins. Not only will playtime be easier, but so will clean up time!
Once you have gained control over the toy clutter in your home, rethink what will be allowed into your home from this point on. Don’t forget to let your friends and family in on the new strategy!
Erin Sharplin Love, owner of Panache by Erin, is a Certified Fashion and Image Consultant, Professional Organizer, and Certified Wedding Coordinator whose specialties include outfit coordination and closet organization. Love has a knack for creating the perfect organized spaces that work with each client’s personality, for helping her fashion clients develop their own personal style and for helping her wedding clients create the wedding of their dreams within their budget and without the stress. Panache by Erin offers the following services – outfit coordination, personal shopping, personal color analysis, home/office organization and wedding/event coordination. To learn more, please go to www.panachebyerin.com.