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Toy management questions: Small toys? Sets? How many collections? And so on...

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OK, long story short, I freaked out today and started dumping all the girls' toys into bins to go into the attic. Initially, it was all of them, altogether, just dumped in bins because I can no longer stand the mess and complete and utter chaos and lack of respect for people and things around here.


Of course, after a little while I calmed down and became a bit more rational, so I began letting them make some choices about what will stay out (6 stuffed animals each, Littlest Pet Shop vs. dollhouse and all its myriad accessories, etc.). They were so thrilled to death that it wasn't all disappearing into the attic that they were incredibly cooperative about letting many, many items that they would have previously screamed about get packed into bags, with the promise that, should they ask for something specific from the bags, I'll go dig it out. I know they'll never ask for any of it :glare: Now I plan to strike while the iron is hot and make a lot of things go "out of sight, out of mind"!


So as I'm working, I'm wondering how best to manage what's left. For example, we have Littlest Pet Shop (LPS) stuff and Polly Pocket stuff and some tiny Barbie stuff, all of which they do actually play with. I've been trying to keep it all separate, but this seems to be a lost cause. Do I just combine it all into one big bin and let them dig through it when they need something? What about the Playmobil stuff? That all seems very unique and specific to the Playmobil sets. Do I keep that separate? Or am I being too control-freaky over it all?


What about big sets, like the (%*&$) Zhu Zhu Pet runs and LPS sets? How do you manage those? The Zhu Zhu pet runs are not that easy to put back together if stored apart, so I've been trying to keep them together, but they take up a lot of space. Do you keep your big sets put together?


In general, do you allow your kids to have a bunch of "collections," or do you try to make them stick to one obsession at a time? Again, we have the Littlest Pets, the Zhu Zhu Pets, the Playmobil, the American Girl dolls and accessories, etc. The dollhouse stuff is going upstairs, all the random little animals and people were packed away (probably never to be seen again, thankfully). Thanks to overly zealous family members (I'm looking at YOU, mom!), these collections just keep on growing and growing. Should I try to limit to one major collection readily available at a time?


If you got even this far, thank you! There's a mini revolution going on here today and I'd like to take the opportunity to put some new processes in place, but I'd love some advice if you can offer it :bigear:

Edited by melissel
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We use totes and bins to sort toys. Larger collections are in rubbermaid totes - trains, lincoln logs, stuffed animals, balls, etc. Smaller items go into bins on a little wooden rack - small cars, gadgets, fisher-price people and animals. If a toy is put into the wrong bin or tote, it stays "lost" until one of the boys finds it or I do my seasonal sorting of toys.

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I use the 12x12 canvas tote boxes that Target has to hold things together. For example:


  • One tote has all barbie items
  • One tote has horses of every kind (except Playmobil)
  • One tote for all baby doll items (clothing, dishes, bottles)
  • Playmobil is in a tote but has little plastic boxes dividing them up a bit (small items, animals, people)
  • Larger playmobil items sit on the shelf

I try and divide the sets up how they will be played with. If the girls are going to play with horses then they can drag the horse tote out. The don't care if they are My Little Pony or Breyer or what. They want horses. The playmobil stuff I seperate out a bit so they don't dump the whole Playmobil tote when they want to look for the kitten and it's on the bottom.

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My heart rate increased a bit when you mentioned combining Littlest Pet Shop stuff and Polly Pocket stuff - lol! I'm not even a Type A personality, I'm just thinking of all the work for me later...


Personally, I'm a natural born slob, but I keep the kids rooms tidy by separating their stuff into sterilite bins of various sizes. These bins go up in the top of their closet. When my kids were out of control, I let them choose one bin for the week. Each night, they cleaned up their mess. Castles and such could stay assembled, but I had to be able to walk in to tuck them in without impaling my feet. If they left a mess, they lost the bin until the next week. We quickly progressed up to one bin a day, though they often decided to choose the same bin for multiple days in a row. Now, they can request a bin any time they want, but the first bin has to be put away first. Sometimes, I let them have multiple bins down, but they appreciate that it is a special treat.


No one has tried getting a bin down by themselves, but if they were to remove a bin without permission, I'd take away their bin privileges.


As for the sorting, we throw all of one kind together even if they have individual sets. This way, our playmobil bin is an 18-gallon tub that holds our castle, ships, pirate cave, and odds & ends. Our lego bin is a large flat box that slides under the bed (wrapping paper bin, maybe?) that has all sets dumped together. Instruction books are in the same bin but my kids rarely use them anymore and seem to like making frankenstein sets instead.


I know it sounds so anal, but the kids were so relieved when I did it. They play in their rooms SO much more now. They enjoy their space and having just one set of toys out at a time seems less overwhelming and their creativity has room to breathe. We've been doing it since my boys were 3 & 5 and they still prefer it now that they are 10 & 13. I don't make them ask anymore, of course. They like their space and they just grab a bin when they want one. Generally, the legos win out nearly every day of the year. If they forget and leave these out, I protect my feet by refusing to tuck them in. Thankfully, they still like mama's bedtime hugs enough to try to keep the floor cleared. :D

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