Photo Credit: Dave King/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images
Once the tree’s been hauled to the curb or the menorah is back in storage, something happens in homes across America: Moms totally freak out because the house is overflowing with Let’s Rock Elmos and Hot Wheels Wall Tracks and trash talking baby dolls (that last one was an accident). Heads spinning, they try to cram the shiny new stash into the toy box -- the one that’s already bursting at the seams. Honestly, you couldn’t squeeze a single Xia-Xia Hermit Crab in there if you tried.
As daunting as it may sound, the only solution is to get organized. “If you involve your kids, it becomes a fun activity and a learning opportunity rolled into one,” insists Lorie Marrero, CPO, creator of the Clutter Diet. Here, Marrero’s method for getting a grip on too-many-toys syndrome:
Have the kids help you divide their items using the ABCD method: A's are items they love and play with all the time; B's are ones they like and play with a lot; C's don’t get much action and D's are rarely touched. Put the A's at eye level in easy-to-reach bins; B's and C's can go higher; D's get donated to kids who will appreciate them. (You can try explaining that it’s another way of recycling... but you may have to add that if you never give anything away, there will never be room for any new stuff.)
One huge toy box is a recipe for disaster. Instead, lots of little baskets or bins make organizing (and later, finding) things a breeze. In my house, we have separate boxes each for baby dolls and accessories, dress-up stuff, musical instruments, stuffed animals, Barbies, craft supplies and purses. Everything else goes into the “miscellaneous hard toys” bin.
Use open bins whenever possible so that putting things away is a one-handed operation (tossing it in the right bucket) and not a complicated exercise in juggling a stack of boxes with lids. A closet with shelves or even a bookshelf with baskets makes an ideal storage system.
Make Kid-Friendly Labels
"Consider labeling the containers with both words and pictures so that it’s easy for kids to put away their own toys,” says Marrero. (Google Images is perfect for finding photos of the toys.)
Ditch the Packaging
Toys are very rarely stored efficiently in their original packaging, Marrero says. Pitch the big, unwieldy boxes that many toys come in and instead, store new items with similar-type toys.