Before we had our daughter, I had the mindset of “I will not let toys overrun our house,” and “we’re not going to have useless cr*p” lying around.” Well thankfully, 2 years later I’ve been able to stick to the second one. Everything we (or our family) has gotten for our daughter has a purpose (sometimes multiple purposes depending on her age, like her piggy bank, she’s been playing with that for a year and a half, but the way she plays with it changes as she grows and develops) and has staying power. Plus, I’m not counting books in the “overrunning our house” part of this. I don’t think there can be a limit as to how many books a kid can have (a by product of how I was raised and my personal obsession with reading) so she has close to 200 books already (though admittedly her chapter books I’ve bought waaaay ahead of time).
Now for the first one, her things have certainly not “overrun” our house, but there was always stuff lying around and not everything was getting played with or read (yes I know kids have preferences, but sometimes I think we would forget something was there, or a book hadn’t been read because it was buried under 99 other books). Her books were in bookcases, her toys were in baskets and bins and stuff, but it wasn’t organized and everything was always accessible–sometimes too accessible. Sometimes I wondered if she was overwhelmed by the options she had.
Over Christmas Break I decided it was time for a change. I’m pretty sure I had gotten the idea somewhere on Pinterest but can’t find a picture of it at right now to link back to. Anyway, what I decided to do was to get one bin for each day of the week and divide up her books, coloring books, stickers, puzzles, and toys of all kinds among each bin (I tried to evenly divide everything up so there was an equal amount of everything in each bin and so it wasn’t all about animals one day, trucks and cars another day, etc). This first picture is a mostly before shot. I had already taken EVERYTHING out and put it ALL on the floor and had started dividing the books up when I realized I could write a blog post on it and would need a picture (that empty spot was where I was sitting).
And here’s the after: one bin for each day of the week with books/puzzles/coloring supplies/stickers/toys as evenly distributed as possible. Her kitchen will be accessible each day, as well as a small set of blocks, her magna doodle, 2 balls, and her stuffed animals (they’re in their own zip up container though so they’re easily contained if need be), and in her playroom she has another small bookcase full of books. The bins are in my closet so she can’t just upturn them all or switch things around on me.
As she gets older I’ll modify this system as need be (I already have a separate bin with workbooks and “school” stuff in the works) but for now this is working pretty well. If she asks for play dough and it’s not in that day’s bin I tell her she can play with it the next day and that we can build a lego car or tower today and stuff like that usually works for her. One day she specifically asked for The Pout-Pout Fish but that was in the previous day’s bin so I made a game out of helping her recite it from memory, then we looked at the current day’s books and she got excited enough about “Noisy Bugs” to let Pout Pout Fish go for the time being.
Clean up at night before her bedtime goes significantly faster this way because now it’s just “get everything in the bin,” not put the books here and the crayons there and the legos here and the puzzles there, etc. That alone makes this system totally worth it!
Do you have a tried and true organization/sanity saver tip or trick? Leave it in the comments below 🙂