I need some organizing advice

My immediate problem is that my 2 kids (9 months and 3 years old) have lots of toys. I don’t mind cleaning up after them at this stage, but I don’t have enough places for all of their stuff. As soon as I buy any container, it’s immediately filled and the stuff seems to breed.

So I guess I’m looking for some (un)common-sense tips for de-cluttering it all.

We love Grandma, but she’s the biggest perpetrator on buying the stuff. I hesitate throwing any of the still-useful stuff away. I did a “sweep” through the house before Christmas, but Santa (Grandma, again) has filled the house again. It’s starting to affect my quality of life. I can’t get anything done because I’m too busy cramming stuff into places where it just gets dragged out all week long.

It’s at the point where I’m about to fire-sale my pool table on Craigslist and just let the finished basement fill up where I don’t have to wade through it every waking moment.

Donate the still useful items, or freecycle them, or just gulp throw them out. Your kids just don’t need that many toys and there is no possible way they care about them. Kids that age are happy with mud and twigs. How many bins are we talking about here??

And tell gramma that next year, any toys over the amount of [you choose] will go directly to Toys for Tots without being opened.

One suggestion is to box 1/2 the toys. Just box them up and store them in the attic. Too many toys is almost over-stimulation for the kids. Let them play with the first half for several months. When you see that they aren’t playing anymore, and more just throwing things around… switch out the currently used toys, with the ones in the attic. That way, the toys seem new to your kids, and hopefully the clutter isn’t so bad.

Another thought, is to start now teaching the 3 year old to pick up toys. He/she should definately be able to assist. Afterall, he/she pulled them all out, right?

Hope this helps!

I separated my kids’ toys into types: cars/trucks/trains in one place, dress up, dollhouses and imagination toys in one place, art stuff in one place, games/puzzles/books in one place, and stuffed animals all together. As they get older, Lego and building toys got their own place too. At the age your kids are, I had a tradeoff deal with another mom whereby some fo the toys got swapped back and forth half yearly. So half the toys were in the basement, a quarter were at the neighbors (and the reverse) and a quarter were in our house to be played with. First I separated them and then I randomly divided them using trash bags for the basement/neighbors piles-- at three my kids did not miss stuff for very long.

I organized my house (well, I still do really) based on the notion that my kids needed to be able to do as much as possible themselves and without me, including understand how things were organized and separated. I got down to my kids’ eye level and looked around to see how it looked and what needed to be changed. I stored things near where they would be used – or where I wanted them to be used.

If you start at three and stick with it, by six you will be amazed how little cleaning up you have to do.
None of my kids’ toys were hidden away – all of them were easily accessible to them and the place they belonged was pretty obvious even to them.

Does grandma live in town? If so, take half of the toys over to her house, so that when the kids are over there they will have something to mess up her house, er I mean, play with.

Have each sprog assigned a footlocker sized tote or a real footlocker. They can keep as many toys as fit in it. Any overflow donate/yardsale/burn on a funeral pyre as desired. When someone gives them toys, they have to weed out the older ones.

Can you tell I spent time as an army brat? I did it and I do not feel deprived, nor do I remember feeling deprived back then. We donated toys to army relief where they went to service families that needed stuff.

I see no reason to have your house innundated with toys. Kids recently have way more toys than previous generations did, back when I was a sprog there were not toys burying the floors of every house with kids, and the yards were not filled with huge heaps of plastic playthings. The lucky kids had a swingset and a sandpit.

We have this problem but it is made worse by the fact that these aren’t even our kids yet! (We are adopting and while most of their toys have moved in, they aren’t permanent residents yet.)

I really can’t throw anything out because I don’t know what any of it is.

So, we are investing in an expandable storage unit for each child. For the youngest, I have gone through and sorted into general categories (little cars, big cars, bigger cars and action figures) and put them in the storage unit. For the older girl, one of our ‘activities’ this weekend will be for her to tell me what everything is (cause I don’t know what dress or brush goes with what doll or what little pieces belong with each set).

Though they come already trained that you cannot move onto a new activity until you clean up from the last one. God bless their foster mom! You really don’t need to be cleaning up after them too much (especially the 9 year old, I KNOW my mom would have thrown out my toys at that age were they not put away).