Less is More. This is a good lesson for children to learn early in life. And toys are a great place to start.
An organized play space is a functional and attractive alternative to the chaos that reigns in many homes. If a dedicated playroom isn’t available, a corner of the family room, bedroom or kitchen can be a good substitute. For toddlers and young preschoolers, the more visible and central the location, the better.
Regardless of where playthings call home, avoid having more toys than space permits. If you’ve already exceeded your limit, purge now, before the birthday party or holiday gift-giving season approaches. If you’re at comfortable capacity, adopt the “one in-one out” rule to avoid overload. Make sure your child has in mind which toy from home is going to leave before a new one is purchased.
Weed out age inappropriate toys. For toys your child has outgrown, contain and label for younger/future siblings, share with friends, or donate to charity. Overly advanced games and toys will be frustrating. Store them until the appropriate time – and if that time is years away, consider letting them go. Purge anything that is broken or missing pieces or that your child no longer enjoys. If you have the luxury of additional storage space in your home, consider a toy rotation. Keep only a portion of the age appropriate toys in circulation at one time. Every few weeks, stash a portion of what’s in play, and substitute a few items from storage. Make sure the toys that are being stored are clearly labeled and are very accessible. This is almost as good as a trip to the toy store!
Establish activity centers. While the floor is great for blocks, Legos, and train sets, you’ll need a table and chairs for puzzles, crafts, and doll tea parties. Don’t skimp on containers or chaos will be back in spades. Open shelves and lidded clear plastic containers are a good choice. Ziplock bags work well for individual puzzles or games with many small pieces. Avoid large baskets and bins, which quickly become catch-alls for unrelated toys.
If your children are old enough, allow them to be involved in the process. Label containers or shelves so everyone will know what belongs where. Printed word labels are appropriate for older children, while picture labels for younger ones will facilitate cleanup. If your child is learning another language, bilingual labeling is a good way to reinforce foreign vocabulary.
Designate a play space with several activity centers.
Ensure toys are age and space-appropriate.
Contain and label.
Fun meets function!