(If you are new to the challenges, you can read more here.)
This week’s challenge is a real hot spot for many parents. (If you aren’t a parent, it can still be hot spot – just maybe a little less!) You may be able to find them scattered throughout the house: in kids’ bedrooms, the living room, the dining room, the kitchen…How do you manage games and toys?
I have a general 3-principle organization strategy that helps me keep ours in check. (And let me tell you: with 4 beautiful young kiddos running around this house full time, we need that!)
- 1. Give everything a home. This is really, really important. If things have a home, they are much more likely to make it there. The best choice would be to make the home near where things are used. Here is a photo of our playroom, complete with laminated labels for our toys. Don’t make it fussy – it shouldn’t have to be placed just so. We aren’t going for perfect. But a shelf or bin for a type of toys will make it easy to know where it should go.
- 2. Institute family routines to keep things neat on a regular basis. For example, in our home, the playroom is where toys and games are kept. It doesn’t need to be cleaned every day, but twice a week, the kids have to prepare the room for vacuuming. Whatever is left on the ground then gets put into “toy jail” – a bin where toys are kept, usually for a week – or sometimes given away entirely (if it’s a regular toy jailbird). This means that things never get too far out of hand, and that the mess is contained–and not by me!
- 3. When something isn’t working, adjust! You’ve got the perfect routine. It works so well – until it doesn’t! That means it’s time to adjust your strategy. As our lives change, so, too, must our routines. If things are being outgrown, try putting them into a bin for a month and seeing if you can do without. If you constantly have toys in the kitchen, maybe putting a small bin there will help keep things manageable (this happens to us because my baby likes to cruise around while I’m in the kitchen). You have to be flexible and keep adjusting your system to keep it working.
For board games, there are two things we do: first, you could reinforce the boxes and keep them. This works well for most of ours because we aren’t desperate for space. If we were, we’d do more of the second: take games out of the boxes and store them in labeled baggies or bins. We have ours locked in a child-proof cupboard right now because ds2 thinks it’s great fun to throw decks of cards, dice, and game pieces. And our rule is one game out, then it’s replaced before the next game comes out. It works well for us.
For more practical advice on how to organize your toys and games, see part 2.
I’m going to go through my toys and games again this week and weed out more. I need a few different labels, too. How about you?