Keeping children’s toys from overwhelming a room

Today we welcome Brett Kelly, who blogs about technology, new media and whatever else the voices tell him to at http://brettkelly.org. He’s also a really swell guy.

A few months back, I was gingerly tip-toeing across the room where my children napped in an effort to get some laundry put away. After taking a few steps into the dark room and reaching the edge of the light cascading in from the hallway, I stepped into the darkness and, instead of finding the soft carpet currently being enjoyed by my other foot, I planted my size 13 squarely onto a plastic ambulance. The ambulance then began loudly announcing that it was on its way to some type of emergency situation and that its ETA was “2 minutes!” And, it wasn’t just dumb luck that brought us to this “look to the heavens and sigh deeply” moment. A quick glance around the now-illuminated room informed me that any next step I took would have caused the same result, but with the help of a different toy. The carpet was barely visible beneath the sea of kid crap.

I wrote the first paragraph in the past tense because things are better now. We managed to institute a few procedures to help ensure we’re slightly less overrun with children’s toys. I honestly couldn’t tell you the origin of these tactics, but somehow they worked their way into our parenting routine and they’ve ended up paying dividends.

Obviously, the sheer number of toys and games in your house will take it’s biannual leap during the holidays and around your child’s birthday. While Junior (age 0-4) is tearing the wrapping off of the newest noise maker, take this opportunity to stealthily pack up what you believe to be the least used toys in the pile of old toys. Put them into a plastic bag and stick them in the garage. Now, wait a couple of months. If by the time the bags have been out of sight for 90 days your child hasn’t asked about the contents, shuffle them over to your local Goodwill or Salvation Army location and get rid of them. Less fortunate kids can benefit from practically new toys that were hardly touched by their original owner and you’ll have some of your precious floor back. With older children (4+), have them participate in the entire process.

Our favorite way to keep the toy supply fresh without having to drop a bunch of money and sanity on more toys is to do a personal “toy swap” with our son’s friends. They come over to play and bring their favorite toy waffle iron or abacus or whatever and they leave with what has historically been a popular toy around our house. The exchange usually lasts a week or two. To turn this tip a little dark (and this requires that you have a pretty close relationship with the other kid’s parents), you can even arrange for a particularly annoying toy that they’ve borrowed to “have an accident” while it’s out of your house. I like to call this maneuver Mafia Toy Management.

It would be quite correct to point out that the best way to handle child clutter is to never let it get out of hand in the first place. Kudos to anybody who has been able to pull this off because we certainly haven’t. It’s especially difficult when generous and caring grandparents, aunts, and uncles are all too happy to help fill out Junior’s apparently dwindling stack of plastic trebuchets. That said, being able to keep your kid’s toy stockade under control without sending anybody into a tantrum is among my most treasured abilities as a parent (besides having them in stitches with my fantastic array of celebrity impressions).

43 Comments for “Keeping children’s toys from overwhelming a room”

  1. posted by Karen on

    We are very blessed with my in laws, who were perfectly willing to keep their gift giving to books for the kids’ birthdays and for Christmas. We can never have enough books in this house.

    We also have a rule–no toys in the bedrooms. Makes it easier to navigate, and plus once the toys fill up the other areas of the house, you know it’s time to cull and purge.

  2. posted by Jack on

    The 90 days out of sight approach is a good idea, for some kids, but not ours. Our daughter has the memory of a grown elephant and still recalls (and gets emotional) over a little stuffed animal she received over well over a year ago that “mysteriously” disappeared.

    I like the idea of the toy exchange though.

  3. posted by amandalee on

    I am not a parent, but this made me laugh out loud – great writing! Kudos for keeping it under control.

    Also, the Mafia Toy Management is brilliant. Makes me wonder if my parents were smart enough to have done that…

  4. posted by Sandy on

    Call me crazy, but once they’re old enough to reason, if the goal is to have the toys off the floor, wouldn’t it work to have a PLACE for the toys, and institute a rule that toys get put back in their place or they go away? (the going away can be temporary, the point is they don’t get to keep playing with toys they leave lying around).
    This could be combined with the donation suggestion: “There’s no more room for this new toy, so an older toy will have to go to a less fortunate kid to make room, which one will it be?” I realize this would only work for slightly older kids, but it should work, right?

  5. posted by Sandy on

    Ah, just realized the “no tantrums” part wouldn’t work with the “put away or it goes away” rule. Never mind. :)

  6. posted by caroline on

    We have a twice annual “toy cull” where we put all toys that our son no longer plays with away into plastic tubs that slide under couches and beds for storage. We are keeping the infant and baby toys for the next child, so they get cleaned and put away. Once we are done having kids, those toys will get passed along to another deserving child. if the toy is large, the box it came in gets kept and used to store it in the downstairs closet.

    The rule is; If all his toys can’t fit into the toy bins we have in the livingroom and the den downstairs, its time to sort ‘em out.

    We bought a stuffed toy hammock for his room, and all the stuffed bears and such go there. I haven’t stepped on a stuffed toy and gone flying since!

    We have also asked my husbands parents not to buy toys, but books and clothing. Its boring yes, but this way, we can regulate the amount of toys he does get, and buy with a mind to our own values, and he gets lots of books to choose from, which he loves! My father makes toys as well, like wooden blocks and such. These we will keep for our son’s own children when he’s done playing with them, since they have more of a value to us than the latest plastic sorting box or car.

  7. posted by Lori on

    Call ahead to Goodwill or Salvation Army before you donate. Our local Goodwills (Bay Area) no longer accept donated toys. I usually list them in bulk (bag of cars, bag of Duplos, etc) on craigslist or Freecycle.

  8. posted by gary on

    Ahh old enough to reason. good one. non-parent comments are always amusing. the reality of kids in day to day life really does have to be experienced to understand it. fact o’life

    The sheer accumulation of crap is not always at our mercy (thanks McDonalds and free grandparent daycare days). Yes, our kids do have a place for all their toys, that doesn’t mean they always goes back there religiously and robotically after every play session. And unless you are willing to institute death threats (to the toys, not the kids) it probably never will (I’m shamed to say I have occasionally declared all toys on the floor fair game for the round filing cabinet. it works for that 5 minutes only). The toys outta-site outta-mind is a great trick and raises your awareness of what kids really remember. We’ve also asked grandparents/relatives to buy ‘events or experiences’ instead of atoms. Memberships, sports, etc – works great, gives us things to do, and most important, saves us some cash in these crappy economic times.

  9. posted by chacha1 on

    Very entertaining, thanks! Boy I’m glad I don’t have these issues. The cats’ toys all fit in one little bowl.

  10. posted by Dawn F. on

    This article was hilarious! Great writing! :)

    While uncluttering the toys and kiddo chaos will relax your mind, it can bring you money, too! Once you have determined that you won’t be having any more children and/or no longer need the toys, bouncers, gadgets, play mats, tiny tables, etc., etc., take them to your local kid’s resale shop and trade them all in for MONEY! Gain some sanity AND some cash – win-win deal!

  11. posted by catherine on

    anybody have a recommendation for toy storage? what do you use? am currently eyeing ikea skeptically, want to upgrade from our series of laundry baskets currently holding toys!!

  12. posted by whyioughtta on

    I have found these toy storage/minimization tactics useful:

    1. Toy drawer in kitchen. Our lower kitchen cabinets are pretty much all drawers rather than doors (I prefer to lift plates out of a waist-level drawer than hoist them out of an upper cabinet). My daughter (now 2) was forever opening one of the large lower drawers, so I finally just sacrificed the cabinet space and made it her toy drawer. That way she can open a drawer all she likes, and it is a great toy storage space.

    2. Store the toys at the gift-giver’s house! I have a lot of parents (long story), in addition to my husband’s family. So Christmas could have been totally insane. I’ve tried to minimize the amount of stuff they give by making gift suggestions, suggesting activities instead, etc. Bottom line, they just want to spoil their granddaughter with lots of stuff.

    So I decided that some (approximately half) of the toys given by the various g-parents would have to stay “at Nana’s/Grampa’s for when we visit.” It’s amazing how it curbs Nana’s/Grampa’s urge to buy more toys when they know they’ll have to find space for it in their own homes!

  13. posted by Amy on

    I have a rotating bin system. The kids have access to blocks, train tracks and a selection of trains, cars and larger toys all of the time. All of the other toys are separated randomly into bins, and the bins are switched out weekly (or whenever I get to it). Every time a new bin is opened, it is as if they have gotten all new toys. My project this weekend is to reduce the number of bins we have.

    @ Sandy, theoretically it should work, but in practice, asking a kid to pick up a floor full of toys under threat sending the toys “away” is tough. Every time they pick up a toy they start to play with it. That usually makes me impatient on a weeknight because it could take an hour by the time everything is put away. I’d rather not get frustrated every night of the week or be running around with a garbage bag of toys with crying children in tow. Parents being able to keep the toy clutter under control makes it easier for children to pick up after themselves.

  14. posted by Amy on

    @ Catherine, I have the Ikea Trofast short rectangular system (wood) and it is very sturdy. We have two of the larger slide-out buckets and five of the smaller slide-out bins that fit into it. The larger buckets are great for our blocks and train track, and the smaller bins are great to sort trains and cars, puzzle pieces and puzzle boards. It also doubles as a bench. We keep the other toys in large see-through bins from Target.

  15. posted by Rosa on

    I wish I could stem the tide of toys. One of the grandmas (my mom) asks permission before she buys things, and buys things that match (compatible train/PLANcity parts, legos).

    The other grandma is not my mom, and she’s all about quantity over quality. I used to just purge most of what he got at holidays, but now that he’s 4 he is a lot more aware of things and argues against giving up *anything*.

    For people who don’t store toys in the kids room: where are they? I have a toybox in my living room, dating back from when he couldn’t do stairs on his own. It’s staying because it matches the other furniture. And toys that are currently out of rotation are in the attic. But the legos and stuffed animals and other everyday-use toys are all in his room – do you have separate play rooms?

  16. posted by NoAlias on

    My kids are grown adults now, and living on their own with all their toys.

    When they were little, we culled the toy pile before Christmas. There were also occasional Mom-has-had-it-up-to-here rampages where I took whatever wasn’t put away into a trash bag and eliminated.

    Younger daughter was often overwhelmed at clean up time. What worked well was to have her pretend to be a robot and I’d give the robot a simple task, then another, then another until the room was cleaned up. Like, pick up all the yellow toys. Put away the fuzzy toys. Find 10 crayons.

    For the million stuffed animals, we had a mesh triangular hammock in the corner over her bed. And we made a chain hanging from a plant hook in the ceiling. The stuffed animals had ribbons tied/knotted around their necks if they didn’t have loop tags already on their feet or ears. The chain had s-hooks crimped onto the links. Animals hung from the chain with a hook through the loop.

    I also remember one time the Tooth Fairy left my daughter a note saying her room was too messy and the fairy would come back tomorrow for the traditional exchange!

  17. posted by mdm on

    There a wonderful book called “Simplicity Parenting” that talks about how the toy clutter impinges on a childs’ ability to use his/her imagination and how it is just too overwhelming for the senses. It is a wonderful book. I did a huge big cull — and my son’s room was like a breath of fresh air. Then came Xmas and his birthday and I’m back where I started. Sigh. I freecycle and consign at a local child toys and clothes sale. I donate to Goodwill. Our school has an annual book swap for kids books which is great — (we also do a soccer cleat swap district-wide which is widely popular) I donate to preschools and to aftercare programs. Sometimes if feels like a full time job.

  18. posted by Melanie on

    Catherine, we also have the Ikea trofast- sounds like the same piece another poster mentioned. We like it, but I’m still struggling with getting rid of the extras that don’t fit inside.

  19. posted by auntie on

    no kids here, but very interesting comments. i think my favorite is from @NoAlias about the tooth fairy. that is classic! and, i’ll bet it worked :)

  20. Profile photo of

    posted by Abeline on

    In my household, the rule always was that anything left underfoot that injured Mom or Dad went immediately into the garbage. Tears, whining, and screaming did no good. It only took a few toys thrown out with the trash for the kids to get with the program.

  21. posted by Annette on

    I am a fan of the mafia toy system, but the one we used in our house is probably not very useful to everyone. My husband had neck surgery 40 years ago and can’t bend his neck down to see where he is walking, so toys NEVER got left on the floor where Daddy walked so as to keep him from falling. The bedroom inhabited by our child was a mess until I taught her what clean looked like at age 8, and took her through two different ways to straighten up a room – the “everything in its wrong place gets put on the floor in a pile and you put away one thing at a time” routine, and the “clear one piece of furniture at a time of its clutter” routine. She had bins to put toys in and we required a clean floor every night before bed with a room clean once a week. Every so often when the bins got too full we culled toys and took them to the local charity store. She has stuffed toys from when she was a baby stored in bins in the closet. The nest isn’t empty until the bins are out of the closet!

    She is 19 and still uses the pile in the floor version to clean up. When she got to be about 14, her room became a clutter trap and I didn’t go in there anymore. She HAS learned to clean up but it took her moving out into her own space to motivate her. And all her stuff isn’t yet with her.

  22. posted by Lisa on

    I use the IKEA bins for the small “Harry Potter” under the closet playroom. It has only the puzzles and crafts. I have these open bins I got from Pier 1 for all the homeschool book, folders, etc., which are out of site from the main room. The kids (I have 2, ages 5 and 7) keep the majority of toys in their rooms, and I must be able to walk unhindered through the room at all times or I “clean”, which means I toss. If a toy is left in a walkway, it is put on the top of the fridge, in view, and must be “earned” back with extra chores. My son calls me “mean” but our house is clutter-free and safe.

    About the stuffed animals….they are a harbor for dust mites! I recently had allergy tests done, I’m allergic to the mite’s excrement, so it wasn’t hard to convince the kids to cull them further. My daughter still has attachment to four small ones, but compared with some kid’s rooms I’ve walked into, I feel this is an acceptable amount I can wash regularly in hot water.

  23. posted by Jake on

    For those parents with small kids- get them started early on the idea of cleaning up and donating. Really helps when there aren’t the tears and whining. We actually introduced the donation to others concept to our first at 3 when getting him off the pacifier addiction. Once he had the idea with that, we moved on to toys at Christmas and birthday. Nowhe tells us when it’s time to send some toys to “kids that don’t have any.

    Between 3 sets of grandparents, they are overwhelmed with toy options as it is, can’t imagine what it would be like here if the kids were really determined to hold onto lots of stuff.

  24. posted by marci lambert on

    i really disagree with tossing your kids’ toys when they aren’t looking. we do a twice-a-year purge (before christmas and their summer birthdays) but the kids help. we tell them they can keep what they truly love, but anything that doesn’t fit that category needs to be donated so someone else can love it. we’ve been doing this since my oldest was 2-3 years old.

    it is a pain to do and takes an entire saturday (we drag all toys into the den and start sorting into like piles, then begin asking “keep” or “give away”). but it teaches my girls that they have to take responsibility for their stuff too. when we come across something that’s cool but too young for them, we’ll recommend giving it to a younger friend and they love doing that.

    i would hate it if my husband went through my stuff and decided what i should keep or get rid of. i think it’s unfair to do that to kids.

  25. posted by Jill on

    This was a very funny post. I’m not a parent but I can relate in seeing my nephews’ junk everywhere. Their mom has threatened to throw out/has ACTUALLY thrown out a lot of their toys!

  26. posted by LaurenW on

    @ Marci – I agree about including your kids. To not include them and throw away something meaningful could result in a lot of mistrust.

    I have given up on asking family not to buy toys, but we have a fairly organized toy room with a door. We do 2 – 3 big purges a year. My kids are too young to do most of the sorting themselves, so I presort, and they get final say.

    We give the toys, as well as clothes to my cousin who distributes them to needy children at a center where she works. My kids enjoy hearing that their things are making people happy. In fact, just yesterday my 5 year old saw an old (ripped) pair of sneakers in the trash, and was disturbed… “Mom, don’t we know a kid who can USE these?” lol

  27. posted by Moose G on

    Do not use the Mafia Toy Management – you never know what importance a child may attach to a toy, or the memories that it gives – the memories may be unimportant to you, but very significant to the child.

    It is also wrong to potentially ruin a childs friendship because their friend ‘broke’ their toy. And if they find out at a later date that you were responsible for the toy being broken how much are they going to be able to trust you.

  28. posted by Franziska on

    We have our 2-year old help with the clean-up every night. I pick two things for her to choose from … she cleans up one of them. I do the rest. I expect this to become more her effort than mine over time, but I’m glad we are instilling the habit now. Once or twice, when she’s refused, I’ve warned and then cleaned up the toy myself and put it high up on a shelf, and she was not allowed to play with it the next day. I don’t have to do that much anymore.

  29. posted by The Simple Dollar » The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Headset Edition on

    […] Keeping children’s toys from overwhelming a room This is a familiar problem at our house. Our key is toy rotation – limit the toys in the room, but keep some more of them in a tub elsewhere. Then, once in a while, rotate the toys, bringing some out of storage and putting most of the ones already out away. This keeps the toys fresh for the kids – meaning less need for new ones – plus it reduces the clutter in the room. (@ unclutterer) Related Posts The Simple Dollar Morning Roundup: Post-Super Bowl EditionThe Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Places to Follow Me EditionThe Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Birthday Update EditionThe Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Holiday Thoughts EditionThe Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Crunch Edition Did you like this article? You can get the complete text of all the latest articles at The Simple Dollar in your email inbox each morning by entering your email address below. Your address will only be used for mailing you the articles, and each one will include a link so you can unsubscribe at any time. No comments yet. Be the first. Leave a reply […]

  30. posted by Courtney on

    Every child’s room should have a toy box where all their toys can fit! If they have too many to fit in the box, encourage your child to donate old toys that aren’t played with to charity! You’ll be uncluttering, and helping others at the same time!

  31. posted by LeahGG on

    Re gifts: As much as possible, I ask friends and family to stick to a few categories – duplo (because we have some and our kids play with them a LOT and more makes the set more fun), stickers (because they eventually run out), arts and craft supplies (same as stickers), or books (because they go on a shelf easily and you can never have too many books). We pretty much only cull what really gets no play or what is broken, but our kids are very little (the older one is 2.5) so it’s too early to really include them in these decisions in a meaningful way.

    I do know that my dad once gave away some stuffed toy animals because I “had too many and didn’t play with them anyway,” and one of the ones he gave away was a gift from my sister who was out of the country (and had been for over a year) and I noticed within a day or two that it was missing and I was angry about it for weeks – I was ten or eleven at the time.

  32. posted by The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Headset Edition | Frugal Living News on

    […] Keeping children’s toys from overwhelming a room This is a familiar problem at our house. Our key is toy rotation – limit the toys in the room, but keep some more of them in a tub elsewhere. Then, once in a while, rotate the toys, bringing some out of storage and putting most of the ones already out away. This keeps the toys fresh for the kids – meaning less need for new ones – plus it reduces the clutter in the room. (@ unclutterer) […]

  33. posted by Sam on

    Catherine,
    We use large baskets for “volume items” like Knex, legos & logs.
    Then I found some cheap plastic container with snap on lids at a close out store that are labeled “Super heroes” “Animals” “Army” “Old West” “Castle things” and it works for us. I think we have three different sizes of bins (the preschool-aged toys are bulky).
    I have two cheap deep book shelves in the family room of our house just for toys. Also, my son has a night stand with a drawer in his room & he can keep some limited toys/books there. He’s more likely to not stay up “sneaking” in play time if there’s not a bunch of toys in his room. We have a small house & every spot that would be good for a toy box has a heat vent (grumble) so we keep it limited to what will fit nicely on the shelves. He does have two large buildings that take up most of the space (castle and barn)

    We recently got 2 large wing back chairs from a relative. They have a lot of space underneath. When the opportunity arose, I snagged 2 computer boxes from work (double thick cardboard) and cut them down to fit under these chairs – with the front being a bit taller to make handle & easier to grab. Since the boxes are under the chair skirts you can’t see them but they can hold a lot. Our plans are to relocate two of the bulkier toy categories to these “drawers”. My son is 9 however, his play school barn and castle are still the most popular when his friends (7-12 yrs) come over.

    No alias,
    I so love that tooth fairy idea. I’m using that next time.

    I get tired of relatives who shower us in gifts every holiday but we don’t see or hear from them for the rest of the year. We get so buried & my son gets so overwhelmed by it all. One good gift that is deeply appreciated goes much farther then a pile or random things & the guilt that comes with tossing the random things(guilt because it’s from someone we care about & they spent their money on it). If they want to spend money why not get one good toy & a savings bond?

    I think Goodwill’s everywhere no longer take toys due to the lead thing. The local thrift stores here still do – like there’s one for the local Cancer society here that has a great toy section & I’ve heard the VFW one still takes toys too. There’s always Craigslist if the toy is in good shape or if it’s a unique one that someone might be seeking. I’ve also seen people offer to barter for a box/bag of mixed toys. You could always offer it on the free section of Craigs list if you just want it gone for that matter.

  34. posted by The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Headset Edition on

    […] Keeping children’s toys from overwhelming a room This is a familiar problem at our house. Our key is toy rotation – limit the toys in the room, but keep some more of them in a tub elsewhere. Then, once in a while, rotate the toys, bringing some out of storage and putting most of the ones already out away. This keeps the toys fresh for the kids – meaning less need for new ones – plus it reduces the clutter in the room. (@ unclutterer) […]

  35. posted by Bubamaramama on

    @Rosa: I do not keep any toys in my children’s room. They play in the main room of the house (living/great/family). Their room is for sleeping, bathing, dressing, and storing clothes. That’s all.
    Our (parents’) room is the same way, BTW. We don’t have tvs or computers in bedrooms or anything like that. We value families as together time and don’t allow the little techno-enabled separate bubbles that so many people live in these days.
    Wow that turned into a rant, Sorry folks.

    Anyway, Our children are still very small (preschool) and we keep their toys in clear plastic bins that are on shelves, under the sofa, just stacked, and under/in the massive train table that doubles as our coffee table. They have lots of books on shelves and art supplies too.

    NOTE:For little kids who are still at the board book stage, it’s better to have the books in a box or something where they are standing up with the covers facing out. This way the child can see what he/she wants and can also put it away themselves. It’s very hard to shelve books the library way before school age; and if they can’t read yet to read the spine, they’re going to pull them all out/off the shelf to find the one they want anyway.

    We keep most of the toys because we are still having children. I do sort them by age just like clothes to be handed down, and put the boxes that are not currently needed in an out of the way closet.

    I agree with so many PP about the glut of toys. I keep the happy meal types for when I need to pull something out of “my magic bag” i.e. Dr’s visit, long car trip, etc. Otherwise, a lot of those are really just fresh trash. Let the kids use them for tub toys if they are noisy and annoying toys, hahahah. Works! If it doesn’t self-destruct in the water, just wait and let it get funky (all tub toys do, they need a dilute bleach bath every so often) and pitch it (“Sorry hun, it’s just too yukky now”).
    I love having in laws/parents who agree with these comments too!! My parents give experiences (family memberships to Aquarium, gymnastic lessons, etc.) and books; and my European in laws usually send great quality shoes that are very attractive and last. Sometimes clothes too.
    Luckily our extended family is too poor to exchange gifts with all the cousins. I send them cash on their birthdays when i can. If our children get cash, i put it into an account for “rainy days” or something special they want that I won’t or can’t buy.
    HTH someone! Great discussion.

  36. posted by Deb on

    I don’t have kids and can only speak from my own experience growing up. When I was a kid, we had a rule like Sandy suggested, and it WORKED! I did NOT want to lose my toys, and if you knew my father, you’d know that I would have if I didn’t take care of them and put them away. :)

    However, I also lived far away from relatives and they had to pay shipping on any presents they got for me, so I didn’t have the sheer number of toys that my nieces and nephews get every year. I used to find it frustrating that no matter how I constructed my Christmas wish list (short, long, cheap, expensive), I almost never got anything that was actually on it. :P Now I’m thinking it may be worse for kids to always get what they want. :/ I’m suspecting that I’ll soon run into these overabundance problems once we have our own kids, due to caring and giving grandparents on the hubby’s side, so the other tips are great. :)

  37. posted by Kate on

    Glad for some of these tips. I’ve been mulling over how to do an “intervention” gor my two nieces.

    However, an important principle: don’t start getting draconian without warning. (And making empty threats on a regular basis is not “warning”.) One day we came home & Mom had dumped everything into a playpen. Wouldn’t give it back for a week, even library books that came due. Rankled for years.

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  39. posted by heatherK on

    @Gary: I babysit a boy who, before the age of 1, was taught to put his toys away before he did anything – eat, leave the house, go to sleep, etc. His parents have a particular place for each toy (storage bench, storage ottoman, etc), and they taught him to put the items back in their place. He knows this so well that one time, I put something away in the wrong place, and he took it out and put it in the right place instead! This was before he turned 2.

    The toys DO go back religiously after each play session. Sometimes he’s robotic about it – like when his grandma comes to pick him up, he scurries around to put the toys away without any encouragement from me. And sometimes he takes his time on purpose, waiting to see if I’ll put the toys away instead. That’s when a Time Out occurs, after which he finishes putting away the toys.

  40. posted by Open Loops 3/9/2010: Articles I Think Worth Passing Along | SimpleProductivityBlog.com on

    […] I have yet to be successful. A succinct guide to the most popular methods is at Unclutterer: “Keeping children’s toys from overwhelming a room”. My daughter simply doesn’t want to let go of the junk. […]

  41. posted by absolute Invitations on

    I started uncluttering my girls room today. I put some of their toys in a box and put them in the garage. Boy…they did not like it at all. I bet ya in a few days those toys will be back in their room.

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  43. posted by Ginger on

    Some might think it is clever, but I am opposed to any method (e.g., Mafia Toy Management, or blaming the housekeeper as I’ve seen suggested elsewhere) that promotes lying to a child. If I’m not willing to give an honest explanation when asked (“You weren’t playing with that anymore and we didn’t have room for it, so I got rid of it”), I’m not doing my job as a parent.

    For the moment, I’m working on uncluttering my home office because the example I’m setting is pretty bad :-) If I get that figured out for myself, I’ll be in a better position to help the kids.

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