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If you have young kids you’re undoubtedly familiar with the endless sea of toys that shroud your living room floor daily. Be it the bedroom, kitchen, dining room or den, no room is exempt from the scattered piles of doodads and thingamabobs, not even the bathroom. Grandparents, holidays, hand-me-downs, and birthdays, all contribute to the ever-growing inventory of toe-stubbing trinkets. Forget about keeping a clean house. For every toy you put away, two more magically appear in its place. Sure, kids will be kids. A certain amount of chaos comes with the territory. If you’re a clean freak like me though, this can be a tough pill to swallow. Luckily, I’ve learned a few tricks over the years to appease my obsessive nature, at the same time keeping my house from looking like a scene out of A&E’s “Hoarders”. Below are Mom Snippets’ 5 Simple Tips to Reduce Toy Clutter.
Tip #1 To Reduce Toy Clutter: Storage, Storage, Storage
My first tip to reduce toy clutter is simple. Have ample storage. I know, I know, easier said than done. Not everybody has the extra closet space or square footage to work with. This is where you might need to get a little creative. The most obvious way to store toys is in a toy box. We purchased the Kidkraft Limited Edition Toy Box for both of our kids’ rooms. This particular toy box has tons of storage space. I’m always surprised at just how many toys I can cram in it. While toy boxes are great, they’re really only useful for bedroom toy clutter. So what can you do about that unsightly living room mess?
One of the best ways to store toys in your living room is by purchasing furniture with storage already built-in. The HomePop Faux Leather Ottoman Coffee Table and the Songmics Folding Storage Ottoman Bench, for example, offer affordable storage solutions without taking up extra space. Just throw the toys in, kick up your feet, and relax. No one will ever even know you have kids! Another quick and inexpensive way to reduce toy clutter without losing square-footage is by utilizing foldable storage bins. You’ve probably seen these used in built-ins and cubby shelves, but what’s great about them, is you can tuck them inside open-undered (yes, I made that word up) coffee and end tables. Available in a variety of colors to match any home decor, these are an easy and cheap way to hide piles of toys without looking tacky.
Tip #2 To To Reduce Toy Clutter: Put Those Little Hands To Work
Teaching your kids to help clean up not only helps to reduce toy clutter but gives them a sense of achievement and pride. Kids love to be useful! A fun way to keep them focused on the task is by singing a song while you do it. We sing this one that we learned in preschool (to the tune of Frère Jacques):
This is an easy way to transition little kids into a chore routine while keeping them engaged at the same time. We try to do it once before naptime and once before bedtime. Now, I’m not going to pretend this is as easy as it sounds. Sometimes I cringe watching my kids “pick up their toys”, but doing it consistently creates expectations they start to understand over time. When they’re done, let them know how helpful they are and how great of a job they did (no matter how painful it was). You can also use little rewards like stickers, or as my toddler prefers, bandaids!
Tip #3 To Reduce Toy Clutter: Rotation, Rotation, Rotation
My kids get bored with their toys pretty quickly. After a few weeks of the same toys laying around, they start going after everyday household items like remote controls, coasters and phone chargers. We purchased a 2 pack of simple storage bins with lids from Amazon that we keep in the garage. One is full of the kids’ toys, and the other, Christmas decorations. Once I notice VTech Dinosaur hasn’t gotten much love lately, I’ll put him out in the bin and replace him with Letter Band Phonics Jam. When Dino makes his debut again a couple of months later, he’s the life of the party! You’d be surprised how much an old toy can spark new interest. This is a great way to reduce toy clutter while getting the most life out of every item.
Tip #4 To Reduce Toy Clutter: Practice The One At A Time Rule
My Kids have all sorts of toys and games. They just keep piling up. They get so many that we have a closet full of Christmas and birthday gifts they don’t even remember receiving. I always have unopened toys for stuffing Easter baskets, using as potty-training rewards, and other bribery-based opportunities. Some of them are inappropriate for their age, so I’ll store them away until they’re older.
I like to keep their messier toys in the same closet. Hot Wheels tracks and cars, blocks, puzzles, legos, and playdough, would surely take over the house if we didn’t. This is why we use “the one at a time rule”. When my toddler wants to spice up his playtime, we allow him to pick one toy from the closet at any given time. That toy has to be picked up and put away completely before another toy can be brought out. Aside from reducing toy clutter, it’s a great way to teach them responsibility and keep their interests piqued during the day, so you can get some work done.
Tip # 5 To Reduce Toy Clutter: One Mom’s Trash Is Another Mom’s Treasure!
Nowadays it’s so easy to get rid of stuff without even leaving your house or couch. Apps like Offer Up and Facebook Marketplace are convenient platforms to sell used items from your phone or computer with very little effort. If you’re like me and you just want the stuff out of your house, platforms like Nextdoor, and Facebook “Buy Nothing” or “Ask, Give, Trade Groups” in your area are easy ways to get rid of stuff fast. Admittedly, I’ll throw toys in the trash from time to time depending on their condition and annoyance level. When my kid asks where his toy went, I pretend I have no idea and send him on a wild goose chase to find it. Hey, whatever keeps them busy, right?
More appropriately, when your kids grow out of certain toys or clothes (or any household items) and you’re sure you have no more use for them, give them away! You can list items as curb or porch pickups if you don’t feel like interacting with people, and before you know it, your junk is gone! You don’t even have to put a bra on! This is one of my favorite ways to reduce toy clutter at the same time building rapport with my neighbors and community.
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