Our little boy is currently 8 months old and I’m already noticing how easy it is for the house to be taken over by toys. I’ve been getting creative with toy storage lately but I am by no means a pro yet. That’s why I was delighted when Nicole approached me about writing a post on keeping up with the toys in your home. She offers up some great tips and advice for keeping them under control!

For most families, the number of toys simultaneously grows with the child and at one point, there is just not enough room to store all puzzles, cars and trucks, plush animals, dolls and building sets. So how should we manage all the mess, especially when kids insist on keeping each and every plaything they own? Try to follow these five tricks to avoid toy overload.

Forget about quantity, try to emphasize quality.
Typically, children receive toys for gifts on special occasions such as birthdays, Christmas, etc. – and having twenty guests at the birthday party means another twenty toys to worry about. So, try not to give your children toys, but books or experiences, for example – especially when there’s no special occasion. Stick to toys and games your child really loves and dreams of having. A new bicycle for your son’s birthday will be a more cherished present than giving him tens of building sets and model cars throughout the year. Surprise gifts should be given a few times a year, not every week, or the child will lose interest in the toys over time.

Focus on hobby-related toys.
Children dream of becoming astronauts, fire fighters, famous singers, police officers, etc., so why don’t you try supporting this dream, even it seems impossible? First, make sure your kid has a keen interest in a particular thing – collectable stamps, doll houses, crafts, astronomy. This interest can turn into a hobby and one day, into a career. So, invest only in hobby-related toys and items, instead of buying all kinds of games that will only distract the child and create a clutter.

Teach your children to give up toys, when they don’t play with them any more.
Separate all toys into three piles – for keeping, for throwing away, and for donating or selling. Little kids will have difficulties giving up on their toys, but first-graders and older children will understand that having a lot of playthings is pointless. Explain the importance of donating things. All broken toys, as well as games and puzzles with missing parts should go to the garbage pile. After sorting out, at least a quarter of the kids’ toys should be gone.

Create more storage.
The kids’ room is probably overflowing with toys, games and clothes. In order to organize the room and keep it clean, you will need to find a place for everything. Check the children’s closets and wardrobes – are they organized well? You can store different games and toys in there, placing them in plastic or bamboo containers. Shoe organizers, hanged on the door, are also excellent for smaller items such as stuffed toys. Be more creative with storage – place games and toys that are rarely used on top of the wardrobe, while those used daily should be more accessible for the kids. Refurbished shoe or wine racks with many shelves can be great for storing books, boxes with toys and puzzles, craft supplies, etc. You can also buy larger storage containers for different kinds of toys, label them for easy access, and place them under the kids’ beds.

Have the kids clean up after themselves.
Including children into your daily cleaning routine may be hard, but you can at least teach them to clean up the mess they left. Kids as young as 2 and 3 can pick up toys from the floor and put them in their place. Try to make cleaning look like a game – organize a race and give a reward to the kid who manages to pick up all green toys, for example. Older children will be able to help you with the dusting or with folding the laundry. You can also show them how to mop and vacuum clean the floors. Have them help you with different household chores and over time, they will learn to do them independently. This is also an important educational activity, so try to be consistent and determined. In a few weeks or months, the kids will tidy up after they’ve played without your supervision.

You can also try to rotate toys. Younger kids will probably never know some of their playthings are missing, so go for it. When fewer toys are available at one time, the kids’ room will be less cluttered and easier to clean.

How do you keep the toy clutter under control in your home? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

About the Author
Nicole Gardiner from Finchley Dream Cleaning knows that to be a mother is not an easy job. The toy overload is just one of the challenges that has to be overcomed. Nicole loves to share her experience when it comes to parenting and more specifically – cleaning and organizing.