Some days–okay, most days–cleaning up toys feels like a full time job. Most kids these days have an abundance of toys, and somehow they always seem to end up strewn all over the place. At least, that’s the case for us!
First thing in the morning, every day, my toddler loves to pull out nearly every toy he owns into the living room. Most of the toys have been put away and organized into bins from the previous day. And what does he do? Dumps them. Every bin, dumped all over our tiny apartment living room floor.
And most days, he only ends up playing with a handful of them at a time. Talk about frustrating! But what we can be thankful for is his daily toy dump has quickly taught us some quick and easy solutions to keeping the mess to a minimum, and taming the mess.
What can you do to quickly and easily tame the toy mess?
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Tips For Cleaning Up Toys–And Keeping Up With It
Have good toy storage
First and foremost, you need to have a solid strategy for how to organize the toys. If you don’t have a place for every toy, they will never get put away–because there is no where to put them!
Before you start worrying about how to keep the toys put away when they aren’t being used, take a step back and look at your toddler’s room. Is there a place for everything to go? No? Then that’s where you need to start.
When you go about outfitting your child’s room (or playroom, if you have one), think about what kind of storage system makes the most sense for the kinds and amount of toys your child has.
For some, a toy chest might be the best solution, particularly if your child is too young to sort toys by type. Older toddlers can quickly learn to sort toys into bins or containers. We personally use bins (along with a cube storage organizer) to sort blocks, play food, balls, small toys, and a larger bin for larger cars and trucks.
Whatever system you decide on, you need to make sure it’s easy for your toddler to understand. One way to do this is to label the bins or containers with pictures. This allows your toddler to easily see what goes in what container and put the toys away accordingly. Make it as easy as possible for your child to learn where to put their toys when it’s time to clean up.
Teach toddler to help with cleaning up toys
This is probably my most used solution to keeping up with the toy mess. I am entirely for teaching toddlers to clean up their own toys as soon as they are able to learn it.
For us, this process started at about a year old. Elijah was walking, and able to follow simple instructions (e.i. put this toy in the bucket). It really didn’t take us too long to teach him how to help us clean up, and pretty soon he was able to do it without our help.
I won’t go into great detail on how to teach this because I have a whole other post dedicated to it, but real quickly here are some rapid fire tips for teaching toddlers to clean up their own toys:
- Lead by example
- Make it part of your routine
- Show them how–repeatedly
- Make the organization easy and age appropriate
- Be consistent
Honestly, I think this is an incredibly important lesson that all toddlers need to learn. It’s an important life skill to learn to take care of your things, and to put them away when you’re finished with them. And that starts at the toddler age.
Of course, one great way to tame the toy mess is to declutter the toys in your house. Logically, the fewer toys you have, the less potential mess from them.
Don’t feel like you can’t let your child have any toys–it’s really not about that. Just periodically go through the toys and get rid of any that are broken, no longer used, or outgrown (and not still played with).
This is a great thing to do at least once a year while you spring clean, if not a couple times a year.
Set up a toy rotation
Another great way to help prevent the toys from getting out of control is to set up a toy rotation. With a toy rotation, a child is given the opportunity to play with certain toys until they are rotated out. Depending on how you set yours up, you might rotate toys every day, every couple days, once a week, or once a month.
Toy rotations prevent too many toys from being available at one time, which prevents your house from being covered in toys. This system also helps toys to last longer, and helps your toddler to not get bored with them so fast.
To learn more about setting up a toy rotation, check out this post.
Make it part of your routine
Of course, one of the absolute best ways to keep up with the toy mess is to make cleaning up the toys a regular part of your daily routine. When it’s part of your routine–or your child’s–, it’s a lot quicker and easier. And you’re more likely to get your toddler to help you clean them up!
Personally, it’s part of our toddler’s daily routine to clean up all his toys before lunch, dinner, and bedtime. For us, having him clean up three times throughout the day helps to keep the toys to a minimum in the living room. And that way, it never feels messy or cluttered while he’s taking his nap (which makes me feel better, too!).
How do you handle cleaning up toys around the house?
Alright, I wanna know–do the toys seem to explode in your house too? Please let me know I’m not alone! Haha! Share with me in the comments how you handle the mess!