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Tips to tidy up those toys

JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times (2008)

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times (2008)

Does your house look like a Toys "R" Us mosh pit? Here's a cheat sheet for getting your kids to meet you halfway in controlling the tsunami of toys. Sarah Welch and Alicia Rockmore,

Don't over-categorize. Yes, toys need a home. But they don't have to be put away in alphabetized, color-coded bins. Kids simply love to dump things out, and that's just how they tend to want to put things away — dump everything back into a bin haphazardly. They really don't care if one bin is marked "trucks" and one is marked "cars." If you are a label nut, rather than making up a toy classification system on your own, ask your kids how they would like to see their toys categorized. You'll be surprised by the different way they view their objects and, even better, if they help you come up with the system, they are much more likely to follow it.

Tote bags are your friend. Earmark a specific lightweight bag (preferably with handles) that can be carried around the house and used as a depository for wayward toys. That way, when you or your child finds a toy that belongs elsewhere, it can be popped in the bag and your child can carry it back to the proper spot later.

If it's broken, don't fix it . . . unless it's a big-deal toy that gets used constantly and someone will be heartbroken if it is tossed. Otherwise, if a toy is missing its part or is broken, just get rid of it.

Rotate and rediscover. Simple is often better when it comes to toys because little ones can get overwhelmed by too much stuff. If you are lucky enough to have generous family and friends who buy many items for your children, divvy up the toy chest into two, three or four assorted piles. Then put the piles into rotation, swapping out sets a few times a year.

It's okay to share the love. In an ideal world, you'd be able to keep the toys relegated to one particular room in the house, such as a playroom. You'll quickly learn that the playroom-only approach is not practical. It's okay to have toys in the kitchen, dining room, living room and bathroom. Whether you prefer canvas bins (easy to carry), plastic bins (easy to see the contents) or a good old-fashioned toy chest (hides everything), as long as each room has its own go-to storage space, it's perfectly fine to share the love throughout the house.

Make cleanup fun. Teaching your kids to pick up their toys not only teaches respect for their things and for others, but it's something they'll be doing once they go to school. Make it a game by setting a timer and challenging the kids to a cleanup race.

Make quick clutter cleanup a nightly routine. Setting routines is a great way to tackle clutter on a daily basis. You can feel good knowing that you're setting up your kids with a life skill.

Tips to tidy up those toys 05/03/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 3, 2010 9:54am]
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