Is your house under a toy takeover? Your children likely received countless wonderful gifts from family and friends during the holidays. And if you're lucky like I am, your kids each had a birthday during the holiday season so the gifts were never-ending! Yikes.
Now that your kids are done playing with all of their new favorite things and the boxes have all be recycled, you're probably staring at your living room, family room, or the kids' bedrooms in complete shock trying to figure out how to contain the outpouring of generosity. Take a deep breath.
Step 1: Take Inventory
Chances are there are toys that you and your children have completely forgotten about. One morning, afternoon, or evening (when the kids are not around), go through all of their toys and make list of what they have. Chart the toys by type, how often they are used, what shape they are in, and if your child would miss them. Now you know what you're dealing with and you can move forward.
Step 2: Sort
Get some bags or cardboard boxes and start sorting. You can combine this with step one to save time if you'd like, but put all toys in a box that fits their type. Puzzles, board games, Little People, dolls, cars and trains, coloring books, crafts, toy food, etc. Once everything is off the floor and contained, you're ready for the next step.
Step 3: Decision Time
There are going to be toys you must get rid of. Face this fact now and maybe don't tell the kids...not yet anyway. You know what toys they will miss and which ones they won't. Make a box of toys to donate, either to younger family members such as cousins, or to a homeless shelter or the Goodwill. You can talk to your children about it or not. Some kids will lose their minds over getting rid of a toy they haven't played with in two years, while others will be excited to donate the toys to another kid. It's all in how you present the idea of donating to others. Hold high expectations for your kid's reaction, and let them know how happy these other children will be. Once those toys are out of your house, you can let out a big sigh of relief.
During this step, consider throwing some things out, such as coloring books that have been filled, broken crayons, old markers, ripped or broken toys. Unless they hold some super sentimental value, toss them.
Step 4: Store 'em
The final step is figuring out how to store the remaining toys. Make sure to teach your children to put toys away where they belong; otherwise, no amount or type of storage solution will actually work. (We've told our 4-year-old that if she leaves it out, it goes away, and so far that seems to be working).
There is a variety of options out there for sorting toys, both expensive and not-as-expensive, from cubbies, to buckets, to shelving. Chances are, if you find something you like that costs big bucks, you can find a similar, cheaper version. You can check out these cute toy boxes from the Land of Nod (that are probably amazing), but Wal-Mart has a similar one, which might suit your purposes just as well. A quick search on Pinterest or Google will lead you to a million perfect ways you can better organize your child's toys.
Now there are no excuses not to get those toys under control. Let your kids help with the storing part of the project, and make sure there is a place for everything. The fewer toys you end up picking up at bedtime, the happier everyone will be.