Do The Toy Shuffle

I always promised myself that if I had a baby, my house would not look like a nursery school.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want it to look like a child doesn’t live here, that would be AWFUL.  But I want a space where when my friends come over, they don’t think I forgot to tell them that I started running a day care center out of my house.

Our little babies and toddlers come with A LOT of stuff.  And, if you don’t watch out, that stuff can quickly take over your house.  Toys are a huge part of the problem.

In an effort to prevent this from happening (which for me is a constant work in progress), these are a few things that I (try to) do:

1. Contain:  My first big rule for Annabelle’s toys is to keep them contained to the den and her room. I am happy for her things to be all over the den, and of course her room, but there is really no need for her things to be in any other room in the house.  Of course, things in the den make their way into the kitchen while she’s playing, but their home, you know, while all the dolls and puzzles and books are sleeping, is in the den or in her room.

2. Organize:  For storage in the den, I bought a short bookshelf from Ikea.  It’s perfect because it looks nice enough hidden behind the couch, and is still inexpensive enough that I don’t mind her banging and pulling and knocking her toys around on it.  And the little cubbies are perfect for all her toys and books.  Plus, Ikea has bins that fit perfectly in the cubbies, that I use to store her toys in categories like Puzzles, Interactive Toys, Musical Toys, etc.  The bins have a place for a label as well as a zippered top, so when she pulls out the bins toys don’t go flying everywhere.

I keep her puzzles in a little basket on the floor.  This way they are easy for her to get at alone.  And if pieces fall out (OR if I’m too lazy to put every puzzle back together when I’m straightening up) at least they are contained in the basket.

3. Rotate Toys:  I don’t think Annabelle needs to have every toy she owns out and accessible at all times.  Of course that causes clutter, but even more so, it’s overwhelming.  I have found that it’s better to store some in a closet, the basement, or in the labeled bins in the bookshelf, and every few days rotate them.  When I see that there are toys Annabelle isn’t playing with, I’ll put them away for a few weeks and when I bring them back out, it’s like a brand new toy to her!  She’s so excited to see it and play with it.  I then tuck away the toys she seems to be bored with at the moment and wait a few weeks until they become exciting again too.  I keep a big basket out in the den that I fill with the “current toys” so they are contained, but easy for her to access and play with…and easy for her to help me put away when it’s time to “Clean up, clean up! Everybody everywhere! Clean up, clean up!  Everybody does their share.”

I truly apologize if that is now stuck in your head all day…

So, do you have any tricks for keeping toys from taking over your house?

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  1. You have lots of great ideas! You mentioned you have a puzzle basket for Annabelle.
    If she has lots of puzzles it’s a good idea to label the back of each piece in a puzzle with the same number or symbol so that if several puzzles fall into a pile you can easily sort them out.

  2. I wish I had done this when you and Christopher were young. Remember the time that Christopher and Brian were playing together and they emptied out ALL of the puzzles in his room?

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