As featured on Huffington Post
I absolutely love organizing toys, I find it one of the most satisfying projects. I also absolutely hate organizing toys, because it can be soooo frustrating. I feel like if you're a parent and reading this you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the same feeling that you get right after you spend hours getting the house tidy, and everything is put away and the floors are clean and it has that nice fresh feeling to it. . . and then the kids come home. And it is all ruined. Instantly. Organizing toys is kind of like that, all your hard work can go right down the drain before your eyes.
Now, I’m not saying that playroom disaster is inevitable (even though it kind of is) I’m just saying that you need to have realistic expectations of the outcome. So with all that being said, here are 5 things that this Professional Organizer wants you to know about organizing toys.
1. This Isn't A One Shot Deal
Remember that movie “Groundhog Day”, the one where Bill Murray relives the same day over and over again? Well, it’s kind of like that. Kids needs change and interests change over time. So you're going to have to do this again and again. The way that I organized toys for my older kids when they were babies and toddlers is quite different for the way I have them now at age (almost) 5 and 7. And then when you throw my 11 month old into the mix all bets are off. Be prepared that you’re going to have to adjust as you go and also as they grow.
2. You're Going To Piss Off Your Kids
Well, maybe. Unless they’re like my kids and have become accustomed to me uprooting their toy system on a regular basis. Your kids will probably be annoyed, but I can almost guarantee that they will play better with the stuff they have once your have curated their collection and they can actually find what they're looking for. Kids don’t need a lot of toys or games to play happily and productively. Just look at what happens every time you give them a giant cardboard box. They tap into their creative little minds and happily play with it for hours, if not days. So take solace in the fact that organizing their toys into a way that makes sense will pay off in the long run.
3. You May Have To Be Sneaky
I'm not usually an advocate for getting rid of people’s stuff behind their back and you should try to let them play a role in some of the decision making process of what stays and what goes. But you may have to throw some actual stuff out without telling them. Let's just keep in mind that their brains are not fully developed yet so their ability to make decisions about what to keep/donate may not be reasoned. Heck most adults can barely make those decisions. You do want to consult with them and have them be engaged in the process but just remember who the adult is in the situation.
4. Set Realistic Expectations
My 8 month old knows exactly where to put her toys back when she's done playing with them. Said NO ONE EVER! Micro-organizing your baby’s toys is just asking for trouble. All kids do at that age is put things in their mouths and dump their toys out of the bins that you so diligently set up. So while it’s perfectly realistic to expect a 4 year old to put the ‘pretend play’ items back in the right spot, or a 6 year old to put his action figures back in their bin, the same is obviously not true of the really little ones. I like to try and keep baby/toddler stuff accessible and at their level and not stress too much about if their blocks are commingling with their animals.
5. Don’t Believe Everything You See On Pinterest
While I love Pinterest for its amazing ideas and awesome inspiration it can sometimes be a bit too good to be true. Headlines like ‘10 Genius Toy Organization Hacks” and “Super Easy DIY Toy Organization” can be a bit misleading. Not everything works for everyone and I often find that when my clients try some of these pinterest-perfect ideas it leads to feeling of disappointment and failure. Just because a system works for someone else doesn’t mean that it will work for you and your family. Try to think critically about the way your kids play with their toys and if this pretty image you’re seeing will work in the space that you have. Take different element of different ideas and morph it into something that makes sense for you.
Good Luck & Happy Organizing!