After re-reading my last post, I started to worry that it might appear that we just give in to any new toy desires that Jenna has. Let me assure you – we totally do not. The papa and I both lean much more toward simplifying the toy chaos, and feel that less is just as good, if not better than, more. We have a rule that when something new comes in, something else goes out. This gets a bit trickier as she gets older, because she remembers things and realizes that they’re missing. We try to oust the toys that she rarely plays with or that have been on the bottom of the toy chest for a while. We also keep several toys in a plastic bin in a basement closet for rotation with the toys she’s playing with to keep things interesting.
To further minimize the clutter, we also try to organize and hide/disguise as many toys as we can, since her playroom is currently our living room. (When she’s older, we’ll move her to a playroom in the finished basement, but for now it’s nice to have her playing within our view.) We have bookshelves in the living room that house some larger toys, baskets of smaller toys, games, puzzles, plus parent and children’s books. These help to keep things accessible but also keep them organized. I love that these shelves have small drawers that we store other small things (e.g., small games, cards, BrainQuest sets, a Ziploc bag of Polly Pocket figures, etc.).
We purchased a large basket with a lid to hide toys without looking too much like a toy chest, and we chose (from a garage sale) a play kitchen that had as much storage space as possible for play food and dishes inside and out of view.
Because of her respiratory problems, allergies and asthma, and because stuffed animals are among the worst culprits for dust harboring and allergy irritating, we’ve limited the number of furry beasts we allow. Again, when a new one comes in, we “retire” an older one.
As Jenna gets older, we hope to include her in the process. We’d like to steer her away from materialism and teach her the beauty of simplifying and the joy of “re-gifting” treasured toys. Hopefully, she’ll enjoy the process of choosing something to donate to Goodwill or another charity to help make another child happy.
What are your secrets for cleaning up the toy clutter and minimizing chaos?