Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Battle of the Toys, AKA Fourth Time's the Charm?

If you are a parent of littles, you know that the biggest battle of the day is NOT what to wear, or even when to take your shower-- it is what to do with all the toys! Over the years (all five of them since my oldest was born), I have tried every way possible to keep the constantly multiplying little toys, blocks, and trinkets at bay.

First up, the traditional "Giant Toy Box" Method of toy control-- this was a dismal failure from the start. It never failed that, by the end of the day, the box was empty, and dumped out all over the floor, because the toy of interest was ALWAYS at the bottom!

The Bookshelf Method-- in one of it's "more organized" moments... :/

So on to Toy Management Method #2: the "toys lined up on a bookshelf/everything in sight" method. This time, not only did the toys still all end up on the floor, but they NEVER looked neat, no matter how many cute labels I put on the shelves! (Seriously, have you ever met 2- and 3- year-olds that like to line toys up neatly???  Definitely not mine...) So Method #2 bit the dust...

Then I found this at my local Goodwill:

The heavens parted, and light shone down... "Success!" I thought, "It's the best of both worlds... they can easily see and get out what toy they want-- and cleanup just requires throwing the toys back into the bin!" Well, that may have been a good idea, in theory, but somehow every single toy STILL ended up on the floor every time! (Please tell me this isn't just my children!) And cleanup was still a struggle (what kid likes to pick up fifty toys at a time?) So, sadly to say, the bin method became Toy Control Failure #3. :(
Method #4: Divide and Conquer
It wasn't till I finally realized, that, in my urge to give my kids every possible toy that they would enjoy playing with, I was actually burying them in so much stuff that they couldn't have fun! (It doesn't help that my two oldest share a bedroom-- and that this room is also the toy room! Who wants to sleep in a pile of toys?)

I finally (reluctantly) decided that the only way to reduce the number of toys that ended up on the floor every night (and give my kids enough space to actually enjoy their playthings), was to reduce the number of toys they had access to! No, I didn't take all of their toys away (though I may have been tempted once or twice). :) I did,  however, go through the toys (with my children's help-- they were actually more willing than I was to say "goodbye" to some of what I thought were their "favorite" toys!), and culled them down to about half of what there were before.

Then I broke down and purchased white plastic stacking bins from Walmart (they were $2.50- $4 apiece), and two packs of Martha Stewart adhesive chalkboard labels (from Staples). I sorted the remaining toys into "sets"-- building blocks, Lincoln logs, army men, train set, Potato Heads, Duplos, and Matchbox cars. One basket was also allotted to generic toys (toys that don't belong with a "set," like squirt guns, plastic horses, or balls)-- since we still ended up with a giant Tupperware tote full of generic toys, the plan is to restock the small "toy" basket with new, different toys every month or so (the rest stay in the storage room). Each "set" has its own labeled box, and since they are stored on the top shelf of the closet, only one set can be played with at a time! VICTORY!

The few large toys that we kept-- a couple Tonka trucks and a dollhouse-- were now able to be lined up neatly in the bottom of the closet. Now not only can you see the floor in their bedroom (most of the time!), but they can actually enjoy their room now-- one box at a time!

Sorry for the blurry cell phone pic-- these were taken before I got my new camera :/
I've since made the next step in the Adventure Kids' Room plan--
a navy striped curtain for the closet that I hope to show you soon!

Yes, it is still a constant fight to keep the toys from multiplying and taking over the world! But the Divide and Conquer method-- having them pared down, sorted, and, most importantly, having access limited-- seems to be, by far, the most effective way of winning the Battle of the Toys! (at least for my kiddos!)

What is your solution for fighting the Battle of the Toys? Do you struggle to teach your kids orderliness... or do your kids automatically pick up after themselves (and if so, what did you feed them to make them do that?)? How do you balance the desire to give your kids everything, without smothering them in it?

Parties I link to:



  1. Ahh that is soo cool! Good job finding something that works great!!! :) Failure #3 seems to be a favorite of church nurseries around the nation :/ I will have to remember your ideas for when we get an "official" nursery someday! Great job!

  2. Looks fantastic!! The labels are brilliant.
    Also, your little guys are too cute.

  3. I like your idea. Our foster kids got a ton of new toys from various places (CPS, CASA, us, etc.). One method that worked well for us was to use your #3 colored bins with a label and photo of the toy inside each bin so they know exactly where it goes. Amazingly the kids loved putting the toys away!

    However, since then, we've bought these other shelves, rearranged, and the boys have a lot of toys that are their own (they'll take them with them when they leave), so I'm not sure what to do now! What I have done for now is put away all of our toys and put their toys out on the shelves. I don't know if I want to take the time to take photos and label bins for toys that might not be here in the next week or two!

    Oh, large toy boxes are so annoying! I don't ever want to use that method! lol

  4. Yay, for organization. I know its easier for the kids to clean up if there is a fixed place where it needs to go.


  5. Sounds like a great solution. I do something similar just haven't labeled the bins. I don't have their stuff up high though so I still have toys all over the floor.

  6. Hahaha! I confess...and you know it...that I never was able to win that war! Perhaps I won a few battles here and there, yes, but not the war! I always used the Monster Toy Box method.

    But, perhaps there's still a happy ending to the story, if you consider it a happy ending: my ultimate solution is the Kids Grow Up method! It's a bittersweet time of a clean(er) house. I still don't know if it's good or not! :)

    Love you!

    www.The CourageousJourney.com

  7. Good post!
    I no longer believe in playrooms, organizers or toy boxes thanks to my kids.
    Thanks for the ideas!
    Thanks for sharing - have a blessed week!
    Stacey of Embracing Change

  8. Wonderful IDEAS!!! Loved them all and might take a few to try for myself and our family:)

    Fill free to visit me at gina-walksinlife.blogspot.com


I love love LOVE comments! Please take a second and leave me one... it'll make my day!