When I determine how much my family saves, I don’t only measure it monetarily, but also in my time. Anything I can do to make my life simpler is a savings in my book. I have actually found a way to save my time when it comes to our children’s toys.
Time and children’s toys? Do those two really go together? In my experience – they do. I spend my time playing with my children, keeping them entertained and at the end of the day cleaning up. All of that takes my time. So, whatever I can do to simplify handling our toys is a savings to me.
If your house is like mine, you would swear that Toys R U had a huge explosion and the aftermath landed in your toy room (or family room, or kitchen, or children’s room….or all of the above). It seems that they are everywhere. You find yourself sitting on them, stepping on them and then, of course, breaking them in the process. So, how can you save time when it comes to toys? Organization.
I know, it seems like an oxy-moronic phrase “Toy Organization,” but it is possible. It can save your time, money and quite possibly your sanity. So, where do you start? Well, for our family, every 8 – 10 weeks, we have a toy swap.
I take ½ of my children’s toys and I put them into Rubbermaid bins, boxes or whatever storage containers I have available. I make sure that when the item is put away that it is clean and all pieces can be located. If we are missing parts or it is broken, it does not get put away. It gets tossed. No need to keep broken toys. If parts are missing that are not an integral part to the toy’s purpose, I may try to sell or donate it. However, I think long and hard before I do. After all – who wants a partial toy?
Then, I store away those toys in the basement. When another 8 weeks has gone by, I go into my children’s playroom and I pull out ALL of the toys. I wipe them down. I make sure they are not broken. I find all of the pieces that go with them. I stack them in the hallway outside of the room.
I clean out cabinet and wipe it down. I thoroughly vacuum. I secretly dispose of all of the “trinkets” we have accumulated from dining out over the past several weeks. Then, I put all of the toys from storage into the playroom. I will move items around in the room (move the toy box to a different location). All of a sudden, my children feel like they have a brand new set of toys and are interested in playing again.
I try to keep anything with parts in small containers. I keep old backpacks and put items in them, such as games or puzzles. This helps my children know that all of the pieces are there when they pull them out to play. Plus, it makes it easy for them to put them away.
When it comes time to clean up a night, we might spend an extra 2 minutes looking for the missing puzzle piece. But, we always find it. That way, I don’t have a useless toy sitting in the playroom. I also don’t have to worry about trying to find it 2 months later when it is time to move the toys around again.
Another thing we always have to worry about is holidays or birthdays. Three children means 3 times more toy clutter. So, we ask family members not purchase a gift for them. They’d rather you come and play a game with them and enjoy a piece of cake. We will also as for gift certificates for them to go do fun family activities, dine out or even better – money for college. This has helped us dramatically reduce the number of toys that come into the house, as well as teach our children that we don’t need a toy for it to really be our birthday.
It can take some practice and a little re-education to get your family to learn a new way to help keep track of toys. But, with a little time (and a whole lot of patience), you can hopefully gain control over them and don’t have to worry that they will over take yet another room in your house.