Toy boxes are a tradition. They are often passed down from generation to generation and seem as necessary as the bed in the bedroom. But they leave your child’s toys unorganized, allowing for pieces to get lost and parts to break. Organize your child’s bedroom or playroom like a classroom, and get rid of the unnecessary clutter.
Sort toys into boxes and baggies.
All small parts belong in Ziploc baggies. Sort all toys by type, and put them into a plastic box with a lid. Label the box in multiple places, using a sticker or piece of masking tape that can be easily replaced should the contents later change.
Jigsaw puzzles could have a colored dot or shape on the back of each piece, to distinguish pieces should they get mixed up. Cut the picture from the lid of the box and place it into the bag with the pieces.
Keep board games in the original box as long as possible. When the boxes break, use the extra-large bags, such as those for clothing and bedding, to contain the game board. Smaller pieces can go in their own size-appropriate baggie, within that larger one.
Rotate the toys as if they were classroom activities.
Children easily get bored with their toys. They also get bored with activities in the classroom. To keep them entertained and engaged, teachers rotate the available works on the shelves. Do this with young children’s toys.
Look at dollar stores and other discount stores for attractive trays, baskets, and bowls. Display your child’s toys by placing one activity on each tray or in each basket. Keep all necessary parts together, so that when the child chooses it, she doesn’t have to look for missing pieces.
Within the shelves, keep activities organized by the type they are. Only put a few trays on a shelf, to keep the area looking neat and orderly.
Pay attention to what your child is using. If she asks for a specific activity, consider putting it out again. When it looks like she hasn’t touched a particular toy for a while, put it away in the storage area for a while. Then, when it reappers, she will be excited to see it again.
Also include her in regular maintenance of the toys. Pick a regular cleaning schedule, and let her help you do it. Have her help check for broken or missing pieces. Ask her to organize the shelves before going to bed at night, or at the end of a “play session.”
Use work rugs.
Purchase white or colored rugs, or special towels that can serve as work rugs. Have the children keep their activities on the rugs, instead of spreading the play all over the floor. Some activities are going to be too big for one rug, so use more than one when necessary.
When they are finished using their toys, they should be expected to put them away in the proper places. If they are truly in the middle of something, they could put a “save name” on it and finish it the following day. Rugs should also be folded or rolled up, and put into their special area.
It will take some time to implement the plan into your household. It will also take some time to get used to enforcing the rules. Stay consistent and persistent, and it will pay off.