Are the toys in your house driving you crazy? If you’ve got little kids (or big ones), you may have toy storage issues. Yet, kids and toys don’t automatically equal chaos.
What’s a parent to do? Think like a preschool teacher!
5 things that preschool teachers do to keep the toy clutter under control.
1. Everything has a place.
You’re not going to see a closet or a big toy box with a giant pile of toys all mixed up. Instead, toys, games, and activities all have their own spots on a shelf or in a cupboard. Puzzles have their own puzzle rack. Dress up clothes are in a box or hung on hooks on the wall.
Montessori classrooms do this especially well. It’s easy for kids to pick out something to play with and easy to put away.
Recreate this at home: designate homes for all your toys. A colorful book display keeps books organized and off the floor. Open shelving helps kids find what they want and put it away neatly. Or maybe some of the toys need to go into storage bins or get donated.
2. Not all toys are available all the time.
The teacher pulls out activities and toys that are available to the kids. Other things are neatly stored away, out of sight. Kids don’t get to dig around in the closets hunting for something to do. They know the system and they choose from the things that are out. Toys are rotated regularly.
Recreate this at home: Put some things out of circulation and use a toy rotation system! Have a toy closet or some storage bins (not clear ones which will be tempting to dump out) to put toys, crafts, and such away and off limits. Don’t allow the kids to rummage around and trash the family room.
3. Use toy storage labels
Labels are great for kids (and parents) to be able to easily clean up when playtime is done. You can label shelves, bins, or drawers. A laminator makes labels extra durable. Chalkboard labels are also fun!
4. Use bins to corral small toys
Bins or baskets are perfect for smaller toys. Kids can dump out the basket to play and then scoop everything back up and put it away.
I adore this open shelving from Land of Nod! Things are visible but the angled fronts keep the toys from falling out.
Recreate this at home: Things don’t have to be neatly arranged to look neat in a basket. In fact, I use baskets and containers all the time when I organize. You might even have enough baskets at home already to store all the toys you want to keep out.
5. Have a clean up time.
It’s practically a miracle when the teacher says, “time to clean up!” or starts singing the clean up song – kids happily stop what they’re doing and tidy up. They’ve built the habit to clean up at the end of the day or when they need to move on to another activity.
Recreate this at home: Does this ever happen at your house? The key here is that the teacher has helped them develop this habit. Kids probably aren’t going to do this own their own. But when it happens day after day in a predictable way with a pleasant instruction from the teacher, kids aren’t surprised and they are much more likely to cooperate.
Pick a time or two during the day when your kids need to clean up their toys. Set an alarm on your phone if it will help. Help them out at first (great tips here), but work toward them doing the bulk of the work themselves. As with all training, be patient as they learn and praise them.
Toy storage and organization tips like this can be the key to a more pleasant home.
Clutter is hugely distracting. Plus, most kids I know can trash a room in minutes! So put steps like these into place to help keep your home a little more organized, peaceful and pleasant.
What are your best toy storage tips?
For more tips on how to organize toys, see this Pinterest board of mine.
Follow Sarah Mueller @ Early Bird Mom’s board How to Organize Toys on Pinterest.