Wow! I cannot believe we are already to the 4th post in my WAHM Series! Just to recap for anyone that is new we have already discussed how I keep the boys and myself on schedule here and here. And earlier this week we spoke about how I have set up Activity Zones so that we can work, play, and lounge in harmony. <— I have been dying to use the term “in harmony” for some reason!
Today I wanted to talk to you about one of the tools that has been most useful in helping to keep my boys happy and me able to work. It is Rotating Toys. I’m sure you have read all over the blogosphere how families store away birthday and Christmas gifts and give their children the new toys throughout the year as they take away old ones. This in theory works great! Especially if your kids are only home playing with their toys a few hours a week. My situation is a bit different. I’m asking for my children to play independently for several hours a day. Unfortunately for me if we don’t have variety the boys get bored QUICKLY. I used to have everything out in the open so the boys could just go and get whatever they wanted to play with and didn’t need my help to get it. WOW I learned quickly what a massive mess that was. And as I mentioned earlier this week, visual clutter does not do it for me. I needed to come up with a way to mesh the best of both worlds. Some toys needed to be out so I wasn’t getting up every two seconds and some toys needed to be put away so they were exciting when they did come out.
After much trial and error this is what I have found works for us:
- I have left out “everyday” toys. These are toys that they play with every day whether I put them away or not. These consist of the train table, the dress up clothes, books, the fire truck, and the playhouse.
- I have sorted the rest of our toys into categories: cars, trains, building blocks, Toy Story toys, Lincoln Logs, and Animal Shop.
- Some of the sorted toys are out on shelves so they are easy for the boys to remember that we have them. Others are tucked away in a closet so I can suggest them when things are getting interesting AKA crazy!
- The toys we have upstairs are always kept separate from the toys we have downstairs. This is a pretty big key for us. Downstairs toys are more interactive and are fun for us all to play together (i.e. Pirate Ships, play kitchen, etc.). Upstairs toys are more quiet and focused on imaginative play. This is part of the reason I have 4 different sets of blocks. Each is useful for a different imaginative play situation.
- Once every 3 or 4 months we go through all the bins and clean them up a bit. We make sure any broken pieces are thrown out, pieces that were incorrectly put away are put back in their bins, and that the theme of the bin is still relevant. We had a “baby” toys bin upstairs for a long time that had rattles, small balls, touch and feel books, etc. that were specific for Buggy to play with as he was developing. At about 9 months of age he was totally done playing with these toys. When we did the last purge and organize session we packed these toys up and created yet another cars bin! (My boys LOOOOVE cars.)
I tried my best to get some clear pictures for you of how we store things but this room is dark and hard to photograph. Please excuse the less than perfect images 🙂
I’m curious to find out, what organizing methods do you have for your little one’s toys? Do you rotate or keep them all out? What is working for you and what isn’t? I can’t wait to get some new ideas from all of you!
Embracing the crazy!