I remember babysitting when I was younger and going into these rooms that were filled with toys: kitchens, trucks, dolls with all their accessories, big action figures and small ones, blocks, Legos, cars, toys that light up and sing, and old but classic toys… I remember feeling overwhelmed by it all, the mess it made and the quantity of it all. Through the years I’ve learned that when it comes to toys, less is more. In playrooms as described, the children are so overwhelmed that their play is short and usually includes messing everything up to find that 1 thing they want to play with. Here’s the top 3 things we do to create meaningful play with toys at our house.
First we regulate the quantity of the toys, we don’t have many toys out. If it were up to Jacob we’d have no toys, but I know my kids need some as a starting point for play. This being said, when I can tell my kids are making a mess with the toys more than playing with them, half of them go into storage to be rotated later on. Sometimes we have the kids help us with the process and other times I do it after they go to bed. I pay attention for a few days what they play with, keep those out and put the rest in a box to pull out when the current toys have lost their appeal.
Second is the types of toys we have in our home, we only have a few toys that do the playing for you. The kind that light up, sing, and teach you ABC’s are great and we have some, but only one person can play with them and can only be played with one way. The majority of our toys are multiplayer and open ended like Legos, cars, blocks, balls, dolls, and puzzles. Things that encourage my children to play together and can be changed easily to play in a different way depending on their mood and playmate!
And our third tip is where the toys are located. We don’t have a toy room because well we don’t have an extra room, but also to help encourage play throughout the house. Our toys are in a few different places from trying to find the best place to house them. We seem to collect some in our family room closet under the stairs from our first organization of toys. Now we mostly have the rugs to play with cars and the Imaginext houses there, and toys the kids bring downstairs but didn’t want to walk back upstairs. We have a few toys in the hallway closet right off the main living space. In theory this was a good place to keep the toys out of sight but close by, in reality the kids threw everything in there and tried to shut the door creating a huge mess! The majority of our toys now are located in our living room in bins and a 6 cube organizer. I’ve liked this the best because I find the kids play together and happily when it’s near where everyone is gravitating anyways. And since it’s our main living space it gets cleaned up every night, to help the mess from getting too big. Although it does make it a bit messier during the day, I’m willing to make that trade off!
As is most things in our home, our toy organization is often changing depending on our current needs. I hope this gives some ideas or tricks to help you tackle the toy craze in your home, especially before the holidays hit!