Friday, December 17, 2010

Toys Toys Toys

   With Christmas right around the corner I thought I'd share with you how we manage toys.  We have a pretty small house for a family of 7.  I believe it's around 1100 square feet but we do have a finished basement.  We have a pretty typical 60 year old ranch.  Main floor has a galley kitchen (that's a fancy way to say a single hallway kitchen!), a dinette, living room (we call it our Front Room), 1 bathroom and 3 bedrooms.  The Schoolroom is one of those.  During our 4th pregnancy we finished the basement to include a family room, bathroom and a big bedroom for our boys.  Many of our friends in big houses with 1-3 kids are amazed we fit in this space but we do and we really like it.  When people visit they are often surprised that it doesn't feel crowded. It is well organized and we don't have a ton of "stuff" basically, because we don't have room for it!

   Anyways!!  Back to toys.  We do a couple things that help keep our home from feeling like a Toys R' Us.  One is we don't buy a lot of toys!!  Of course that doesn't matter because grandparents, aunts and uncles buy toys and we are often given toys other families "out grow". Usually twice a year we go through toys and get rid of some.  We toss ones with broken pieces and we donate ones still working.  We share with our kids that some families can't afford a lot around Christmas so if we donate these toys we never play with to Goodwill or a mission thrift store and a mom or dad shops there, they will be so thrilled to have found a great toy for their kids.  BUT think of how sad they'd be Christmas morning if they open up the game and find it doesn't have all the pieces or the toy's arms keep falling off because they are broken.  That keeps their attention at finding all pieces and making good choices of donate or dump.  This usually happens in early December and sometime in the summer.

   Along with not buying many we do have a limit.  This wasn't too difficult in a small house.  We found a space for toys and if it doesn't fit... we don't keep it!  We have a clothes baskets for stuffed animals (which all my kids love for some reason- and I swear they multiply all on their own!).  If the basket is overflowing we dump everything out on the floor and start reloading by letting each child choose their favorite and put it in the basket.  We do this one at a time until it's full and then we're done.  They take a second look at what's on the floor to make sure they're happy with their choices and then we pack up what's left for Goodwill.  We also do this with our toy closet and bins.  The girls right now have more toys because they are the "littles".  So we have baby toys and horses and dolls etc.  These are in bins in the Schoolroom.

   This week I'll go through these and take out what they don't play with and make room for a few new things I know they are getting for Christmas.  The green topped box has dress-up stuff in it and the same goes for that, if it doesn't shut, it's time to get rid of some stuff.  You can see the stuffed animal basket on top.  We have one basket for the girls and one for the boys which is in their room.

   Our Toy Closet is our other space.  It is built under the steps downstairs.

   If something doesn't come in a handy bin or box we put it in one.  When this area is full we decide what to get rid of.  As my boys are getting older they don't play with as many things so this is getting easier and easier to keep control of.  Pretty soon I'll be deciding what to keep forever for other kids to play with and what is no longer needed (sniff sniff).  This closet IS a closet so we can shut the door and you will see NO toys!  The only other things we have are a Little Tykes kitchen in our family room and a few things in our boy's room.  We struggled for years on how to tame Legos and finally found a good system for us.

   These are from the floor to my chest high and the kids separated them by color.  You can see on the floor in front there are still Legos on the floor but it's better than them dumping a huge box out to find one piece.  Besides Legos they have Nerf guns stored in an under bed box... under their bed and some Bionicles in another under bed box.

   That's it!  I could probably get rid of what's in the Toy Closet and nobody would ever notice!  The boys pretty much do Lego and Nerf and really always have.  This is the first year EVER they've asked for anything for Christmas or Birthdays that was not Lego.  The girls pretty much stick to stuffed animals and dolls.  Again it seems the more kids we've had the less toys we need.  They play pretend and wrestle and play games.  Toys are what we do when there is no one to play with and we're really bored!  On another day I'll share what we do with their electronics and "special things".

Happy toy sorting!


Holly said...

Fantastic! You are my organized friend! One of these days I will let you come to my house and help me get organized. Maybe, if I feel brave enough. : )

Tami said...

I'd love to come and help you!! It's one of my favorite things to do! I know, I'm a little strange!

Christy said...

Wow! Great moms do think alike. ;) I helped my mom and my friend organize their cabinets and pantry. I organized my boys' toys too but the hobbits seem to prefer the floor method. Legos and Nerf guns are favorites here too, along with Hot Wheels, of course.

Tami said...

Christy I love that you call them the hobbits!! Too funny!

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