Guest blog by Michelle Burns of Pregnancy and Baby.
Keeping your home clutter-free is not only good for you, it’s good for your toddler, too. According to Dr. Susan Giurleo in North Andover, Massachusetts, a child psychologist who specializes in working with kids and families on their disorganization issues, “Organization is important to young children because it gives them a sense of safety. When you are two or three years old, you learn so much in every day. So much is new and exciting! An organized space allows young children to explore new things with a sense that some things in life are predictable.”
Ready to cut the clutter? Keep reading to discover how to keep your toddler’s playthings from taking over your abode.
Divide and Conquer
Before you can manage the mess, you have to size up what you’re dealing with. Start by sorting toys into basic categories, such as cars, dolls, blocks, and puzzles. With toys divided into common piles, you will be able to measure up your storage needs while making a nice path along the floor you’ve been missing.
Now that you know what you have, the goal is to get the toys into an organized manner while still making them accessible and appealing. See-through containers that are stackable work great for small toys while baskets and shelves work best for large items. Looking for a solution that works for both? Try using the colorful bins that can house smaller toys on top and larger toys on lower-shelved bins. Check out IKEA’s TROFAST Storage combination.
Wall-mounted hammocks work great for stuffed animals, while hooks and pegs can keep necklaces and bags at bay. Books on shelves are an easy solution, but remember to leave room for a few to be displayed in a manner that allows contents to be seen to make reading more appealing. In short, anything that gets toys off the floor and into a designated space is a solution worth trying.
Keep Away the Chaos
Getting organized is only half the battle. Keeping playthings organized is another challenge in itself! Here are a few tips for showing your toddler’s toys who’s really in charge:
- Label storage – Unless your toddler’s a prodigy, it’s likely he cannot read. Take advantage of his recognition skills and label bins and containers with pictures of what’s inside.
- Rotate toys – Putting a portion of your toddler’s toys in storage and alternating which ones are out every month or two will help keep toys new and avoid toy boredom. Besides, he can’t play with everything all at once!
- Use baskets – Designating a basket or two around the house as a throughout-the-day solution to collect toys will let you organize once a day without losing your sanity.
- Keep thinning – Weed out broken and unused toys regularly to make way for new fun. Toddler’s favorites change from one day to the next, but try and include your tot in the selection process if he’s old enough. Best times to go through toys: before Christmas and birthdays. That way, he knows new entertainment is on the way!
Have Your Kiddo Help
Once toddlers have mastered the ability to walk, they can help keep their toys tidy, so have them pitch in on the clean up. Deb Lee, Certified Professional Organizer® in the DC Metro Area, shares that, “organization of any kind helps to prepare young children for pre-school and the structure they will face in that setting. In school, the expectation is that children will help to clean up after themselves and help to put toys where they belong.” Lee also advises that self-help boosts your sweet pea’s confidence when they “get it right!”
But, make sure to make organization fun. You’re not only keeping toys from taking over, you’ll be teaching your toddler organization skills and creating balanced, independent individuals for the future.