Organizing Toys: how to get the kids to help

A clean house… what’s that?! We have a bajillion toys (garage sale time!) and two toddlers, which equals one massive mess. Every day. All the time. Keeping a home organized and attractive is a challenge, especially when there are children and those children have lots of toys!

Both weekly and seasonal strategies can help create order and an opportunity to spend time with children one-on-one. Here are some tips on getting the kids involved with organizing toys

organizing toysmaybe a “superhero cleaning cape” helps? 😉

Weekly Strategy:  Assign each child a bin or laundry basket. Each evening, have everyone help clean up the main living area by placing toys and clothes in the proper baskets. Then, at the end of the week, have each child take his or her basket and put the toys away. Anything not put away and left in the basket is moved to a bag or box and donated Monday morning!

Another idea is to have baskets sorted by toy location. Our kids are younger and share a lot of their toys so our biggest problem comes from basement toys left across the family room floor or bedroom toys in the porch. You can use baskets based on where the toys go: playroom, bedroom, bookshelf, and basement. Then the kids can put them away together or they each take 2.

organizing toys with the kidsSource (modified from Jane on flickr; license)

Seasonal Strategy: We’re all familiar with “spring cleaning,” but the toy and mess dilemma needs to be handled more often than that! Designate seasonal decluttering prior to birthdays, major holidays, or perhaps at the end of the school year. With younger kids that go through clothing sizes so quickly, you find yourself reorganizing closets more often—take those times to work on the toys, too. Set aside an afternoon to help each child sort his or her own belongings. Kids are more likely to take pride in their clean rooms and organized toys when they have a hand in helping make the decisions!

Set clear guidelines before beginning the project.  Make the sorting easy for everyone to remember and apply. And have fun!

  1. Toys that are now too young for the child’s age (or clothing that is too small) will be handed down to younger siblings and friends or will be donated.
  2. Toys (or clothes) that are worn out and no longer functional will be thrown away. 
  3. Toys not played with recently will be donated, rotated to the front of the closet, or boxed for later consideration. Later consideration means boxing items and putting them in the garage or basement. If the child doesn’t ask for it in a set amount of time, donate it! I try to follow this rule for my own closet of clothes 😉

Don’t spend a lot of time on each item. Make fast decisions and keep on moving. Momentum matters in the process—the faster the team gets at sorting, the more efficiently the time is used and the less likely you are to keep things you really don’t need.

organizing toys

organizing toys Source (modified from Abigail B. on flickr; license)

And when you finally get to a room that looks clean and organized? NOBODY BREATHE. Right?! But, really, the more you stick to a routine and an organizing plan WITH your children, weekly and seasonally, the more often your home will look clean and organized.

Organizing toys doesn’t have to be a job left to the parents alone. Children can participate and feel proud of contributing, too. Plus, it helps save mom and dad’s sanity to have a little help around the house, eh? 😉

What are your tips for organizing toys and getting your kids to help?

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