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When you have children, it’s very easy for every room in your house to suddenly resemble the local playgroup! Toys can easily get out of control, particularly with people buying gifts. It’s important to create a system that works for you and your home and ensure that everything has a place otherwise you’ll end up with toys everywhere – which is not what you really want for your living space when you come to settle down and relax once the kids are asleep.
Elise doesn’t show much interest in toys – she much prefers to be ‘doing’ and ‘exploring’. When I’m carrying out household tasks she’ll follow along behind and try to get involved. When I empty the dirty washing basket, she’ll pick up the clothes off the floor and put them into the washing machine. If I’m hoovering, she’ll follow along behind with her toy mop or sweeping brush. And if I’m cleaning the kitchen, she’ll grab herself a duster and ‘clean’ the floor. All of this is great – long may it last! But then again, other times she’ll be in cupboards and drawers and pulling everything out – so swings and roundabouts I guess!
Despite this, she still seems to have amassed quite the toy collection. So it was important for me to make sure all these toys have a home and we have a system in place for dealing with new stuff coming in and getting rid of old stuff.
Don’t create more storage as you accumulate more toys – regularly declutter the toys and make them fit the space, not the other way around. It’s also important to make people aware of your system so that they don’t buy gifts which you don’t really want. Create a wishlist and tell people specifically what to buy or ask for money or clothes for the kids instead.
If you’re not sure what to get rid of try packing some things away in a cupboard or somewhere out of sight and leave a smaller selection of toys available. By doing this you will quickly be able to see what is played with and what isn’t which should make the choices easier. When you bring the toys out of storage, it will also be easy to identify what was missed and what wasn’t – again making choosing which items to declutter much easier.
Beautiful storage systems will never work – especially with younger children, so don’t aim for a pinterest worthy playroom. Instead set up containment areas – then as long as the toys are put in these containers, it doesn’t matter how – they are away. Even better, it much easier for the children to tidy up after themselves if the system is simpler.
Currently we keep all of Elise’s books in her bedroom. As she can tend to be a bit heavy handed and crumple/rip the pages we separate her cheap books from her nicer ones. She has a drawer full of ‘cheap’ books – books we’ve purchased through The Works 10 for £10 deal and musical books we’ve picked up from Aldi. These are at her height and she knows where they are and can access them herself. If they do get destroyed, we can recycle them.
Her nicer books we keep on her bookshelf so that they don’t get ruined and I can read them to her. She has the Peter Rabbit collection, lovely storybook collections (also from The Works – they were cheap but they’re nice so I don’t want her to rip them apart!) and other nice books which were gifts when she was born.
The plan is to create a reading nook with picture ledges but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
We have this ottoman from Wilko in the living room – it was a bargain and fits in nicely with our décor so is a great way to hide away the toys at the end of the day. I don’t separate her toys – all toys that fit I store here including puzzles, soft toys and wooden toys. When the box is full, we will have a clear out of the toys she no longer plays with.
When we are at home, I leave the lid off and she can take toys out as she pleases. This way it is easy for me to see what she does and doesn’t play with. She has more than enough toys so I refuse to create more storage just to accommodate new ones.
Obviously, when she is older and the type of toys she plays with changes so too will the storage system. But for now, this works for us.
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These are the ones that make my living room look like a crèche! They are too large to hideaway so instead we line them up under the stairs like some ride on toy car park. To keep these in check, I remove toys as she outgrows them – like the jumperoo, baby walker etc and move them to the attic if we plan to reuse them for the next baby. Any toys that she didn’t really take an interest in or that we don’t particularly want to save we can just sell on.
This is the one I’m yet to crack! We have a pop up tent which we use in the garden in the summer and take on picnics and we have a paddling pool. I don’t want to keep these outside because of damp and bugs, but we don’t have any storage cupboards in the house where they could go. I’m thinking maybe a trunk in the mudroom which leads to the garden.
We have a small wicker drawer unit in the bathroom, one of which we dedicate to baby bath stuff – in there we keep her shampoo and baby bath, plus a selection of bath toys – a few rubber ducks, swimming turtles and squirty animals. When she gets older, I will probably swap these for foam letters and numbers.
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And that’s it! When she’s a little older and can play independently in her room, I will probably relocate the downstairs toys to her bedroom but for now this works for us.
I started Katie Saves while on Maternity Leave to document our adjustment to living on less. Now back in work - I blog about making extra money, saving money, getting my life organised and being a new mum. Join me!