Quarantine the crazy
Establish zones/times for play, and zones/times that are off-limits for toys. These can be as loose or as strict as you like, but stick to them. For instance, we have a no-toys-at-the-table-when-food-is-present rule. Whether it’s a meal time or a snack time, our children know that playdough, cars, iPads, etc are all off-limits. Once the food is cleared away, they are more than welcome to get all that stuff back out, but it saves a lot of chaos and my-doll-has-yogurt-in-her-hair in between… And our kids know what to expect, which is also important.
Start a cycle
Since few kids can play with literally EVERY toy they have in the same day, try putting some in reserve. Pack away half (or two-thirds) of the toys, then switch out every few days to a week. Your child will feel like they’ve got something brand new to play with, and you won’t have to stare at all the extras 24/7.
Clear the air
This isn’t for everyone, but we always find an increased sense of peace in the chaos when we purge toys that aren’t getting played with. With kids around this usually has to be done pretty systematically to ensure there isn’t an outcry amongst the citizens, but it can be accomplished. Depending on the item, we may or may not involve the original “owner” in the decision (baby toys obviously don’t need input, but LEGOs do). Just space it out a bit so they don’t feel like ALL THEIR TOYS ARE GOING AWAYYY. (Yes, we’ve been through a few of those phases… Oops. #lessonlearned)
Keep it [special]
Give each kid a place to keep a few special things that are only theirs. Our children each have a small bin they keep by their beds, and they know those things are theirs specifically to play with and take care of. They do share these items with each other, but always get them back in their bins when finished. You can visually see the pride it gives them in being responsible.
Tell us your must-haves for keeping your space organized with kids! We’d love to hear them in the comments below or on our Facebook page here. For more tips on how we do it with four kids, check out our Extreme Saving series.