A lot of parents have anxiety before Christmas and birthdays about where they are going to put all the new things. Science has even shown that more things in a house directly correlates to more stress for the woman of the house. There are ways to negotiate the giant pile of toys and make it all more manageable.
Last summer while I was pregnant with my third son I almost lost my mind over our playroom. We had so much stuff, and it was always everywhere. My kids loved to dump out the big containers and then sit in them or makes big piles with the toys. I cannot explain the mind of a toddler so I don’t know why they do this but I knew they didn’t do it at school so I started asking questions about how they organized their toys.
At the time my kids were attending a Montessori school and they referred to all of the toys and projects as “work.” All of the available toys or “work” are displayed around the room rather than in containers. I was sold and decided to make a plan to organize my playroom similar to the Montessori school but with a few of my own twists.
This was how the Rotating Playroom was born.
The first thing I did was take any toys that were project based (mr potato head, blocks, lacing projects, etc…) into clear Rubbermaid shoe boxes. Each project or “work” has its own box and is stored on the shelf. We made the rule that they are only allowed to take one box out at a time and when they are finished with their work they have to put it back on their shelf.
The random toys that we always have laying around we made another plan for. We took all of those toys and put them into a large container we now store in the attic. We gave each boy a bin and told them they could fill it with whatever they wanted out of the larger container. Once they made their choices we put the large container into the attic until the first of the month. On the first we take the box down and they are able to switch out their toys or keep the ones they have. This is toned down the mess a lot but it also makes them excited about their toys again. It’s like all new toys each month.
Honestly at first my husband thought I was nuts and creating a lot more work for ourselves. He is now convinced however as it has cut down on the dumping of the toys exponentially.
I made a special art box with all the art supplies and it is up on the top of my fridge. My boys are not old enough to be trusted with art supplies in any part of the house other than the kitchen and only while they are being supervised. Also, I am a mean mom and I don’t allow playdoh in the house. I just can’t. But if you are a playdoh parent this would also go on the art box. We keep this box up for when they are bored or a rainy day. It’s more of a special box; not an everyday thing.
We have a train table and a Lego table in the playroom too. Periodically I trade out the train table for a ramp for their cars. I think the most important thing is not overwhelming the room. For one thing, it makes them not appreciate the things that have and two, they don’t seem to play with as many things when the room is too crowded. The Lego table is also a space they can work on puzzles if they want.
I bought them a few small rugs, think small bathroom sizes rugs, and they are to take those out and do their work on those–this is a Montessori concept. It helps minimize the amount of stuff they take out at a time. They are only required to use the rugs for items in the shoe boxes or puzzles.
I have bookshelves in the room to house a number of things. Books of course but also the work boxes, big trucks and I have second shelf for puzzles. Having things out in the open has also helped them be able to search for things without dumping everything on the floor.
Dress Up Box
The last thing that I added was a box for all of their dress up things. Yes, boys like to play dress up too. Old Halloween costumes, mismatched gloves and mittens, hates and two electric guitars were the last things that needed a home. I keep the dress up box out at all times, but I have been thinking about putting it up and bringing it out on rainy days.
I really hope this helps people come up with a plan on how they will deal with the new toys they are about to take in. It can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be!