Friday, April 20, 2012

Playroom Toy Organization

For a long time, I have been struggling with the issue of too many toys. With 4 kids, 2 sets of grandparents who love to send gifts, and my personal love for garage sales, there has been a constant flow of new toys in our house. It felt as though we were drowning in toys. No where was this felt more than in our playroom.

playroom toy organization organizing toys before
While the kids loved to play down here, it became a source of stress when every tote, bucket or bin would be emptied on the floor (you can see that the totes were so full of toys that some of them wouldn't even fit on the shelves).

When it was time to clean up (and at times it felt as though the toys were ankle deep), the kids would become overwhelmed. Then, we would argue. We would yell. We would threaten. We would help clean up. We vowed to not buy more toys. We promised we would get rid of some toys. But nothing worked.

Then one day I read a great article about rotating toys. The article "How to Rotate Toys" on the Little Stories blog is really great reading. I highly recommend checking it out.

Almost as soon as I finished reading I grabbed some (okay, a LOT) of Rubbermaid bins and dumped every. single. toy. into the center of the room and started sorting.

The mess wasn't pretty, and a few times I questioned my sanity for taking on a project of such magnitude., but I persevered.

I immediately weeded out any toys my youngest had outgrown, toys that were broken, or toys that had come from McDonalds or other cheap/trinkety type toys. To be honest, I didn't really get rid of anything else. I was very fearful that the kids wouldn't like the new playroom and wanted to be sure I could "go back" if I needed to.

To sort the toys, I put sets together inside plastic freezer bags and labeled them along with the number of pieces included (to make it easier when they were rotated out).

I added signs to the outside of the totes that outlined exactly what was inside. I tried to avoid generic labels, for example, labeling "Little People Farm" and "Little People Garage" instead of just "Little People." (I plan to show you my storage area in a future post.)

Once every toy was packed away and organized (including large items like the play kitchen and washer/dryer set), I made a list of which toys I wanted to include in our first rotation. I listed each child's name and, under it, each category that Kim included in her article. I tried to make the toys overlap between kids as much as possible.

Finally (the part I had been looking forward to), I got to work setting up the chosen toys. I was VERY nervous about how the kids would react. I had told them I was working on making the playroom even better, but I was certain there would be tears or protests about the finished product.

I unveiled the "new" playroom to the kids about a week ago. I am happy to say they LOVED it. I know they loved it because they wouldn't stop telling me how much they loved it. I made sure to bring out a few toys that they hadn't played with in awhile (and the ball pit was my insurance policy that something in the room would be awesome for them, just in case there were tears).
organizing rotating toys after

Here's a close up look of what's on the shelves:

Little People Farm and an additional animal/farm set, Peek a Blocks gumball machine, My First Purse, Mr. Potato Head and a Playmobil safari animal set

Puzzles, Dora school set, wedgits and 2 large Tonka trucks

Fisher Price Loving family dollhouse (Wild One decorated this one for me).

Also "on rotation" but not in the close up pictures - a ball pit and a tunnel.

After nearly a week, the kids are still just as happy with the room. They have been playing longer, with less complaints about cleaning up. And to my amazement - they've been playing with fewer fights too! For my husband and I, the room feels calmer and more inviting - a place we don't mind spending time anymore. I even feel like we can finally add some artwork to the walls without completely overwhelming the space.!

I have a lot of fun ideas for upcoming toy rotations. My plan is to rotate every 2 weeks. I hope to share the rotations with you so you can see how rotating toys works (or doesn't work) for our family in the long term. Be sure to check back!

Linking up to some of these great parties!


Kim @ The Educators Spin On It said...

So happy to hear how much the kids are liking it and how you and your hubby want to be there too. We shared her story on our toy rotation post too. Can't wait to see your ideas for more rotations! We're getting ready to change ours to animals for Earth Day this weekend! Here's how we create stations at our house...

Christina said...

Wow! What a transformation. I seriously need to do this, and I only have one kid. I need to get it under control before it controls me. Thanks for the ideas, links, and inspiration!

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