Friday, April 8, 2016

Children's toy storage and rotation.

know this is pretty nerdy and many won't understand/think I'm crazy for doing this, but I love cleaning and rotating Norah's toys. I also love organization. So, if you are wondering how your kid's toys are always a mess and how to ever fix it, maybe you could gain some tips here!

I have had other people tell me that they have never rotated or cleaned their kid's toys, and that's okay. You don't have to do this, and you are not a bad parent for not doing so. But, I do think it's helpful and beneficial for my family.  I try to clean/rotate toys each week (granted, if we are gone for a weekend or something, it is sometimes every other week). Here is WHY I clean and rotate Norah's toys:

1. We regularly have other young kids in our home, so there are lots of little hands and mouths on our toys. Cleaning them regularly helps with germ-transferring and sickness.

2. It helps with the mess and clean up time- if there is less out, there is less to clean. Also, if toys have a specific place they belong, it's easier for your children to learn to clean and help too. (Which is what we all want- our kids to clean up after themselves! Got to start training for that young!)

3. Rotating toys helps children engage better and maintain interest longer. Too many choices can be overwhelming, so having a smaller presentation helps.

4. Rotating toys makes it fun to have "new" things to play with each week. Kids can't say they are bored (as much), if there are different things regularly offered.

Now, here is HOW I clean/rotate toys:

1. If you are starting this process from scratch, think about how you want to store the toys. I would recommend getting some sort of bins (I use 6 quart Sterilite bins and 12 quart Sterilite bins). You   don't have to purchase bins, but I think it's worth the investment. I use labels for each bin. You could even add pictures to the label for non-readers so they know where to put things!

How will you display the toys you are going to put out for play? Do you need bins? Do you need storage cubes? Do you need a small shelf? Maybe a bookcase or shoe rack? Think about what would work best for your home. Then you need to think about where you are going to store the toys that are not in current use. Do you have a storage area in your basement? Maybe extra room in a closet?

2. Choose a time that can be relatively the same for you each week to do it. (I have chosen late Wednesday afternoon, because that works in our schedule and it makes sense for us because we regularly have other kids in our house Monday-Wednesday, so I like to clean them after that.) Then, you know it's coming and it's scheduled/planned.

3. First, I start with cleaning the toys that are currently out. I wash all the smaller toys in our sink, simply by soaking in very hot water with soap and then rinsing.

4. For the bigger toys that can't fit into the sink (like a walker toy or activity table), I clean those with a wash cloth and a cleaning spray that says it's safe for children's toys. (I have used several different sprays, and I don't have a specific preference.) I also wipe down board books too.

5. While the toys are drying, I put out new toys. Norah has a few toys in her room, one shelf of toys in the office, and the majority are in the living room. I also rotate toys in the bathtub, basement (that is usually just bigger toys like her slide and tent), and diaper bag. I know that's a lot to think about, but once you are doing it, it's not that bad.

6. Put the clean toys away in storage for next time!

Here are a few pictures of what that looks like in our house:

I keep the toys not in current use in Norah's closet.

I keep some books in this bookcase, and some other singular toys (that don't really fit into a group or bin), in these cubes. The rest of the books that aren't in use are stored in her dresser drawers.

We have the bottom shelf of this bookcase in the office/den for toys, plus her baby doll items. (She's pretty obsessed with her doll- it's so cute.)

I also keep just a few books in the living room in our TV stand. 

We keep toys along one side of the couch in the living room. This is the main play area throughout the day. I have a cheap shoe rack to keep the singular items on top, and the bins of toys underneath. It works well for us, because then they are still easily accessible, but not scattered everywhere. (When Norah was younger, we used more of a small toy bin type bucket with a lid, because she had smaller toys like rattles and such, but as she got older that wasn't as functional anymore.)

So there you have it! Hope that was helpful. It may seem like a lot, but I personally think it's worth it. All in all, this takes me about one hour per week to do. Since I am a SAHM, we are at home playing a lot, so I think it's worth my time to create positive, clean play spaces for Norah! I would recommend doing it!


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