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I'm at the end of my patience with my daughter's room and am desperate for new ideas. 

My daughter is 8 and is an only child. Our house is small (1500 square feet) and we have no dedicated playroom. I want my living room to be a toy-free zone so we do not store toys outside of her room. 

A few years ago, I followed the advice on Pinterest and organized my daughter's room with bins from Ikea; one bin for Barbies, one for My Little Pony, etc. Now her room is out of control. I feel like I'm always nagging and threatening consequences. I ended up cleaning her room yesterday because I couldn't stand it anymore. 

I think the bin system is part of the problem. She seems to pull out all of the bins at the same time. Barbie plays with Twilight Sparkle. On the blogs, moms write that their kids will play with one bin at a time but that's not how it works here. 

The other problem with the bins is that some toys don't fit into any category. My daughter is always getting little plastic junky toys from birthday parties or happy meals. Where do they go? 

I know that we're a big part of this problem because these toys didn't fall from the sky. My daughter has way too many toys. I try to get rid of some but it's a battle. I've got several trash bags full from my cleaning yesterday but I know my daughter is going to object to throwing some of this out. 

How do you manage your kids' toys? I don't expect her room to be perfect but I think it's reasonable to expect that someone could walk into it without having to step over toys on the floor. 

From looking at lots of Pinterest pictures again today, I know the secret is less toys. If you look at all of the pictures of really well organized playrooms and children's rooms, it's clear there are very few toys. If you were able to significantly reduce the amount of toys in your house, how did you do it? 

 

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You've pretty much figured it out I think. If you have too many toys, then some need to go.  To fight the problem creeping back, you may find it helpful to have a one in one out policy.  New stuffed animal, which one are we done with that we can donate?  There's no organizational system that will enable an 8 year old to manage an unmanageable number of things by herself.  If you don't want to be the one managing it, then setting her up for success is necessary, which probably means a manageable number of toys.  I never wanted to manage the whole one bin in one bin out system AT ALL.  I don't like being involved in their play that way.  Since I don't want to make that my job, I don't.  But that is a system that people use.  I also try to understand that I have 5 kids, and will be stepping over toys.  I just try to have that expectation.  But I know what I can't handle, and try to mediate those things.

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Rotate them. Less out at a time. Then u can still keep her favorites and have variety but they are not all out at once. Store the others in closed bins elsewhere (u may need to get creative about where). Pull out a different bin each week or two and place those items in her smaller bins in her room.

for example- right now my dd has in her room: dollhouse, little ponies, stuffed animals, baby dolls. Last week it was: pet shops & barbies.

(in this house I keep the ones not out in opaque large Rubbermaid totes in the basement or stacked in a closet- I get these out, not the kids)

in the last with my older kids we tried the “only get one bin out at a time” but tbh it does limit their imaginative play- they come up with more interesting scenarios when the pet shop animals can play with the strawberry shortcake house and tea set ?

but yeah, less is more as a general rule.

random toys I keep together and rotate those too, they’re fun to mix things up. Or stash aside for car trips. Or donate to a teacher to use for a prize box

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16 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

How do you manage your kids' toys? I don't expect her room to be perfect but I think it's reasonable to expect that someone could walk into it without having to step over toys on the floor. 

Well not to be rude- but if you don’t allow toys in the rest of your house, then I think it IS reasonable for her to have toys on her floor you need to step over. Her room, her toys. Where IS she allowed to have them?

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I think playing with toys "across bins" shows a great deal of creativity, and I would not stifle it. My kids loved to have the farm animals play with the pirates; they called the game "Visit the ship", and over the years it grew more and more elaborate into their own fantasy world, incorporating  knights and Egyptians etc. 

The solution could be not to sort the toys by category but simply to make sure that they end up in boxes at certain times. And perhaps every few months, she may sit down and sort toys by category into separate boxes. But to have an orderly room, it's not really necessary that each bin contains only  a certain sort of toy - you just need the floor clean, and that not all the time either - if she has set up something (tea party, toy village, whatever), why can't she leave it up? It's her room after all.

I would try to limit the flow of toys into the house by not bringing junky plastic toys into the home, and by donating periodically the ones who make it in. We donated to the K teacher for the elementary school for her treasure chest of small rewards.

 

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When my boys were about 7 and 9, I had the same problem.  

Here’s what I did:

I talked to them about how hard it was to keep everything clean because there was so much.  They agreed.  I said to them, “How about we put some of the toys in bins in the attic where you can easily get to them (and they can because the attic has tiny doors right off their bedroom).  Anytime you want to play with the extra toys, just get them out.  But the other toys you like the best will stay out all the time.”  They were so sick of trying to keep their toys clean, that they readily agreed to this.  If your daughter isn’t so sure, then you might have a bit more struggle, but I think it’ll be worth it in the end. 

After they agreed, I said I’d start sorting their stuff.  Late at night, when they were asleep, I cleaned out the junky stuff and threw it away, but only the very, very junky stuff that was downright trash—or like you said, those cheap-o favors from parties that they never touched but were too sentimental to get rid of.  You might want to skip this step if your dd will notice.  Mine never noticed that I got rid of the junk.  There were still some semi-junky things left over, and I did keep those because I knew they’d notice if those were gone.

Then, I got a bunch of plastic storage bins and 3-gallon size ziplock bags (and they have even larger ones).    https://ziploc.com/en/products/closet-storage/big-bags/big-bags-l  The boys and I sorted out the toys they wanted to have access to all the time.  We put those in the toy bins in their room.  The rest was sorted into the ziplock bags and then placed in the storage bins.  The bins were put in the attic with the lids off, so you can easily see what’s in the bin and grab the bag of toys you want.

They almost never actually went into the attic to get something.  When they did, they’d play with the stuff for a day or two, and then we’d put it back in the bags and back in the attic for a few more months.

It’s been 6 years and I finally asked them to go through the stuff in the attic to give some of the stuff away, but my sentimental oldest couldn’t part with anything.  (He’s 15!  These are kid toys!). That’s ok.  There’s room in the attic for it to live in.  He can take his old Iron Man stuff with him when he moves out one day. ?

It is important to me not to become adversarial with my kids about things like this.  So if I didn’t have an attic, I’d have used a basement or garage or even just stacked bins in the corner of their room.  I would have found a way to store the toys somewhere in the house.  My house is the same square footage as yours, though is probably set up differently.  But I’d be ok with bins living in the corner of the room to keep our relationship strong.  

Soon enough, she might not want toys anymore.  My guys want a few video games and some clothes now at gift giving time and toys don’t come in to the house anymore.  So, this is a temporary thing for the most part (unless you’ve got sentimental kids like me and they want the toys to keep living in the attic until they move out.)

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Agreeing with the Rotation System! 

I love the idea that she plays "across the bins"! 

She could also play on a spread Bed Sheet, so you can just gather up the corners & drop it in the closet in a pinch.
Legos work well that way, if you're having a hard time.

Also, we always cleaned up 30 min before Daddy came home from work.
Now that they're teens, I only require once a week cleanup. ?

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1 hour ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I'm at the end of my patience with my daughter's room and am desperate for new ideas. 

My daughter is 8 and is an only child. Our house is small (1500 square feet) and we have no dedicated playroom. I want my living room to be a toy-free zone so we do not store toys outside of her room. 

A few years ago, I followed the advice on Pinterest and organized my daughter's room with bins from Ikea; one bin for Barbies, one for My Little Pony, etc. Now her room is out of control. I feel like I'm always nagging and threatening consequences. I ended up cleaning her room yesterday because I couldn't stand it anymore. 

I think the bin system is part of the problem. She seems to pull out all of the bins at the same time. Barbie plays with Twilight Sparkle. On the blogs, moms write that their kids will play with one bin at a time but that's not how it works here. 

The other problem with the bins is that some toys don't fit into any category. My daughter is always getting little plastic junky toys from birthday parties or happy meals. Where do they go? 

I know that we're a big part of this problem because these toys didn't fall from the sky. My daughter has way too many toys. I try to get rid of some but it's a battle. I've got several trash bags full from my cleaning yesterday but I know my daughter is going to object to throwing some of this out. 

How do you manage your kids' toys? I don't expect her room to be perfect but I think it's reasonable to expect that someone could walk into it without having to step over toys on the floor. 

From looking at lots of Pinterest pictures again today, I know the secret is less toys. If you look at all of the pictures of really well organized playrooms and children's rooms, it's clear there are very few toys. If you were able to significantly reduce the amount of toys in your house, how did you do it? 

 

If she is creative, then she could have no toys and you'd still be stepping over and picking up a disaster of a bedroom.  It's not the toys, it's the kid.  Sorry.  It's exhausting.

Sincerely, the visually tired mom of an 8yo creative mind who built a robot with gripping arms out of cardboard and cereal boxes and made the hallway its garage, has an unfinished pillow case on the sewing machine on his desk, whose violin books are stacked in such a way to create a shadow village on the floor, and is always searching for a specific 1x1 circular Lego piece in a specific shade of gray with the edge knicked slightly so the string catches on it when you turn the crank of his new invention...

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2 hours ago, Hilltopmom said:

Well not to be rude- but if you don’t allow toys in the rest of your house, then I think it IS reasonable for her to have toys on her floor you need to step over. Her room, her toys. Where IS she allowed to have them?

 

It's not that I don't allow toys in the rest of the house. I don't allow toy storage in the rest of the house. I want my living room to be reasonably neat. Also, we've got a dog who loves to chew small, colorful plastic items like toys so toys aren't safe in the living room. 

I don't mind her having toys on her floor when she is playing but I want the floor to be reasonably clean at night. It doesn't have to be perfect but the middle of the floor should be clear. Someone should be able to walk into the room without tripping and falling or stepping over toys at night. 

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18 minutes ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

I don't mind her having toys on her floor when she is playing but I want the floor to be reasonably clean at night. It doesn't have to be perfect but the middle of the floor should be clear. Someone should be able to walk into the room without tripping and falling or stepping over toys at night. 

But what if she isn't finished with a particular game? My kids did elaborate setups on which they worked for weeks. Making them tear everything down at night would have been mean. If she has no other room to play but her room, I don't see how the floor can be toy free

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15 minutes ago, regentrude said:

But what if she isn't finished with a particular game? My kids did elaborate setups on which they worked for weeks. Making them tear everything down at night would have been mean. If she has no other room to play but her room, I don't see how the floor can be toy free

 

Good point. There's probably a compromise here. I just don't want a total disaster area. The other day, I could hardly push the door open. 

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3 hours ago, regentrude said:

I think playing with toys "across bins" shows a great deal of creativity, and I would not stifle it. My kids loved to have the farm animals play with the pirates; they called the game "Visit the ship", and over the years it grew more and more elaborate into their own fantasy world, incorporating  knights and Egyptians etc. 

The solution could be not to sort the toys by category but simply to make sure that they end up in boxes at certain times. And perhaps every few months, she may sit down and sort toys by category into separate boxes. But to have an orderly room, it's not really necessary that each bin contains only  a certain sort of toy - you just need the floor clean, and that not all the time either - if she has set up something (tea party, toy village, whatever), why can't she leave it up? It's her room after all.

I would try to limit the flow of toys into the house by not bringing junky plastic toys into the home, and by donating periodically the ones who make it in. We donated to the K teacher for the elementary school for her treasure chest of small rewards.

 

 

I agree with all of this.   I stopped sorting and just made sure they were returned to shelves or bins often enough to not become a health or safety hazard.  That doesn't mean the floor is always clean because sometimes the play is ongoing, just that it was periodically straightened up.

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Just now, Junie said:

We have cleanup time every night at 8:00.  The room is a mess most of the time, but I insist that it be cleaned up before bed.

Yes, this. And if it's too terrible before then, we clean up around 5pm before Dad comes home.

OP: Also, I will HELP them clean up, as long as they remain diligent. It can indeed be overwhelming to clean up 5 boxes worth of toys. And I do let them leave out specific set-ups, but they have to mention it to me first and then still tidy it up (the doll house and things in it can stay, but all the loose items all over the floor go back in the box).

We have way too many toys too. And they seem to play with all of it...

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A creative kid might find that limiting her play to one bin at a time helps, if you force her to try it a week.  Why?  Because kids that get out every toy they own and set up elaborate scenarios sometimes spend all of their play time setting it up and very little time playing.  If you limit them to one bin, they get more play. It's the freakonomics of play time.  I've found it true for myself and my kids.

If the horse is routinely played with ONLY with Barbies, the easy fix is to put the horse in the Barbie bin.

Throw the junky plastic crap out. Expect a tantrum over it. Do it anyway. Call it the junk that it is.  This is how you end up with kids that aren't afraid to cull - culling is normal to them.

If throwing junk out results in a major meltdown, you'll find that putting the junk in a rotation system will enable it to be out of sight, out of mind.  In three months you'll be able to toss it without her noticing, but I still don't think it's a good idea to do it that way.  Because when she figures it out she'll feel not only that you stole her stuff, but that you shouldn't have because you lied by omission by hiding it from her. To me it's better to just enforce the boundary of not allowing the junk to stay, rather than to hide it or lie.  Mostly because you want her to be honest with you about the difficult choices she makes too.

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12 minutes ago, Katy said:

A creative kid might find that limiting her play to one bin at a time helps, if you force her to try it a week.  Why?  Because kids that get out every toy they own and set up elaborate scenarios sometimes spend all of their play time setting it up and very little time playing.  If you limit them to one bin, they get more play. It's the freakonomics of play 

But that depends on what you consider "play". I had a doll house. I loved setting up, arranging the furniture, etc. That was the wonderful part. I never had the slightest interest to "play" with the dolls by moving them, speaking for them, changing their clothes, or having them drink pretend tea. For me, the setup and interior design WAS the play.

Setting up the wooden fort was another one. Or constructing elaborate castles. That was play.

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How do you guys handle clean-up? Does she have a set time every day to tidy her toys? Does she have a checklist, and do you help her? Many children that age can't handle the focus necessary to clean a big mess, especially if they haven't been made to develop that habit.

As for the quantity of toys... if they fit in the bins, then she probably doesn't need to remove any. However, you should definitely stop bringing new toys into the house, especially of the fast food variety. Stop buying children's meals, and as for goody bags, just tell her openly that all that plastic isn't good for the environment outside and it's not good for your home environment either.

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But that depends on what you consider "play". I had a doll house. I loved setting up, arranging the furniture, etc. That was the wonderful part. I never had the slightest interest to "play" with the dolls by moving them, speaking for them, changing their clothes, or having them drink pretend tea. For me, the setup and interior design WAS the play.

 

Likewise. My play was mostly sorting my toys into different groups, then re-sorting them.

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We have the bins and separate by type of toy.... and if I notice he hasn't played with something in a while, I put them in a box and put them in the garage. He is allowed to ask for them at any time... and they do come in about every 5 months or so and then back out after a couple weeks. We have one box that is his "random stuff" bin. 

We do a major cleaning one day a week... (I help with this, but don't do it for him) everything off the floor and vacuum. Daily if it's getting ridiculous I will have him do smaller cleaning... ex. pick up all the blocks, or pick up all the cars, or magnets, put all the random pieces of paper in the recycling etc. He doesn't seem to mind if it's one particular thing. Sometimes if he's in the middle of something he'll ask to leave a particular set of things out and I have no problem with that but then he needs to clean up the other stuff so that particular thing is the only thing in the middle of the floor (hope that made sense) 

He has learned over time that it helps his creativity to start with a blank slate once in a while. 

We are also pretty good about going through toys twice a year and culling. I do this with him, usually one bin a day so it doesn't overwhelm him. He's usually pretty open to giving things away to kids that don't have as much or getting rid of broken or unused things. 

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I struggle with this but I’m working on it. We don’t get Happy meals/kid meals so no toys. I hate the party favor toys and have no problem letting them go. I am having to go through toys when the kids aren’t around. Also, present it as giving the toys to needy children, then donate. Unless they need to be thrown away because they are in bad shape or it’s something so small like a plastic whistle that I might not bother with. 

What about hanging storage? 

Weed toys before holidays? Like Christmas. 

Who cares if the toys are in misc bins as long as the bins put away. Really. 

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At one point, we had taped off a “toy free” zone on the floor (a walkway area) through the play room- because we had to walk thru that room to get to the laundry area.

That may help you at least a toy free area near her door? Or a narrow path to the bed. Painters tape comes up too easy off carpet so we used colored masking tape.

ETA- my other tip is instead of using those deep cloth bins for items with lots of little pieces (Polly pockets, mini pony accessories, playmobil)- use shallow under the bed type bins... then she can look thru the bin for that perfect tiny shoe match without having to dump the whole bin on the floor. The tall fabric bins are better for medium to large items like the Barbie dolls themselves, but not the little pieces.

and we have also been known to use a clean dustpan for shoveling little pieces up and depositing them back in their bins 

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When I Mom Clean, I organize all of the bins into categories because *I* like it that way. (I'm also a fan of sorting Legos. I find it relaxing and ridiculously satisfying.)  When I want the boys to clean up their toys, I don't give a fig what goes in which bin.  They're their toys, and I don't have x-ray vision that forces me to gaze upon the chaos through the fabric.  ? 

If everything can fit into the bins, it should take less than 5 minutes to scoop it all up and put it back at the end of the day (kid style, not Mom Clean style.)  Refusal to do that would be more of a discipline or developmental problem than a toy problem.  If everything can't fit, that's not really their fault. That's a toy problem.

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For my kid's room, we have bins, but we also have 'bins that make sense'

For medium sized toys that work alone, the fabric bins make sense.  He knows where each one is, can pull it out, and have a blast.  Like, one is filled with nothing but Nerf.  There's a container inside it for bullets and everything else just piles in.
For small toys, we found under the bed bins made more sense.  It's hard to go through Legos if they're in a square bin, but you can see more of them if they're in a rectangular one.
For random toys, which we try to discourage, we keep a lunch box.  When the lunch box is getting full we go through them and decide what to get rid of.  At 8 he gets it better and he has started refusing toys on the rare occasion we eat out because he doesn't see the value in them.
We also have a couple of drawer like bins for toys that have lots of parts that need to stay together, like snap circuits, and open shelving for a few games/activity boxes/puzzles.

Now, more than that, we have strict rules on chores.  The room WILL be tidy at least once a day, usually first thing in the morning.  And it will be tidy because I will check it and sit there until things are put away.  But because it's every day the mess never gets out of control.

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12 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

 

It's not that I don't allow toys in the rest of the house. I don't allow toy storage in the rest of the house. I want my living room to be reasonably neat. Also, we've got a dog who loves to chew small, colorful plastic items like toys so toys aren't safe in the living room. 

I don't mind her having toys on her floor when she is playing but I want the floor to be reasonably clean at night. It doesn't have to be perfect but the middle of the floor should be clear. Someone should be able to walk into the room without tripping and falling or stepping over toys at night. 

Is there room to one side or an area that is not the walkway? I would not be opposed to taping off an area where toys can stay in a set-up, because I also agree with what @regentrude said that there can be set-ups that rightly should remain out. 

When my two older kids were little, they would get out the play food, plates and stuffed animals and “feed” the animals. So there would be little animals everywhere with a dish and a plastic donut of wooden corn cob in front of them. ? But I do like walkways clear and don’t want to step on toys at night. 

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First, you do need one bin of "miscellaneous small toys" just for sanity. Second, are the bins easy to take down and do they have lids? Lids equal one more step so it doesn't get put away. You want open bins. Another option that might work for things like barbie and ponies is an over the door shoe hanger. the kind with clear pockets is great for barbie storage, and I bet some ponies would fit too. 

As for giving things away, we talk a lot about how other kids need toys, but they can't afford them, and so if we aren't actually playing with it it would be nice to give to them. But we also talk about how having too many that we don't play with makes the room harder to clean, and they have to do more work to pick up. Wouldn't it be SOOO much easier to pick up if there were fewer things in here?? That kind of thing. And i point out how annoying it is to have stuff in your way that you don't even use. 

I did just see that there is a book about this called Sophie's Stuff, on amazon. All about decluttering for kids. 

If none of the above work, compromise and put some of it in storage bins in the garage or a closet and rotate?

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11 hours ago, regentrude said:

But that depends on what you consider "play". I had a doll house. I loved setting up, arranging the furniture, etc. That was the wonderful part. I never had the slightest interest to "play" with the dolls by moving them, speaking for them, changing their clothes, or having them drink pretend tea. For me, the setup and interior design WAS the play.

Setting up the wooden fort was another one. Or constructing elaborate castles. That was play.

same

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12 hours ago, regentrude said:

But that depends on what you consider "play". I had a doll house. I loved setting up, arranging the furniture, etc. That was the wonderful part. I never had the slightest interest to "play" with the dolls by moving them, speaking for them, changing their clothes, or having them drink pretend tea. For me, the setup and interior design WAS the play.

Setting up the wooden fort was another one. Or constructing elaborate castles. That was play.

 

Wow.  Foreign.  To me all the setup was the work that had to happen before the imaginative stuff could begin.

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3 minutes ago, Katy said:

 

Wow.  Foreign.  To me all the setup was the work that had to happen before the imaginative stuff could begin.

That’s funny. I was also a setup person. The play was designing and decorating. 

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11 minutes ago, Quill said:

That’s funny. I was also a setup person. The play was designing and decorating. 

Me too.  My best friend and I spent hours setting up elaborate Barbie villages in her giant den, then we piled all the dolls in the middle of the floor and held a "fantasy draft" to divide them up.  Then we took our selections and got them all set up... and went over to our school's playground across the street to play instead.

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1 hour ago, Quill said:

That’s funny. I was also a setup person. The play was designing and decorating. 

Me too.  As kids, my brother and I would spend all day making and stocking a blanket fort.  We would build block shelves to hold our flashlights and books and snacks.  We would make signs to indicate entrances and emergency exits.  We would meticulously make beds for ourselves.  And as soon as we were done with that, we would abandon it until mom made us tear it down and put everything away.

Even now, I will happily spend hours building intricate train track setups with the kids.  But as soon as it is time to actually drive the trains around and "play" with the track...well, that is when I have to go tend to the laundry.

Wendy

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16 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

  It doesn't have to be perfect but the middle of the floor should be clear. Someone should be able to walk into the room without tripping and falling or stepping over toys at night. 

 

 

You need clean-up times built into the day. We used to do this 2-3 times a day. Pick a trigger for each clean-up and make it part of the routine; the trigger should be something pleasant: before lunch, before walking to the park, before screen time, whatever. 

You're not going for co.plete tidiness at these times, just keeping things from getting out of control. If she insists she's going to finish coloring that picture today, maybe she doesn't pick everything up, but she does close the coloring book, put loose crayons back in the box, and stack the box on the coloring book. If she's working on an elaborate setup, she can keep it up but pull things out of the walking path, and so on.  

My kids went to bed very early at that age, so it worked well to do a clean-up right before supper and be done for the night (they didn't usually play with a lot of toys after supper, it was baths and story time and maybe a game or drawing with us). 

We used the bins and we did sort by type, but not because I thought they should play with one type of toy at a time - it was so they could find specific toys when they were looking for them. You're never going to locate Billy Blazes if the Rescue Heroes are mixed in with Barbies, Tonka trucks, and kazoos! Also, bins of completely random toys made me twitch. A bin system with no lids was great for us throughout the intensive toy era. 

Before you can figure out a solution, you have to nail down what the problem really is. It sounds to me like the truly aggravating thing for you is stepping on toys at night. So, look at that problem specifically. Adults look at a room and it's obvious to us that we're going to be dodging Legos and Polly Pockets that night, but kids don't see things in the same way. They see the world they created, not a tripping hazard. You have to give strong visual cues on what needs to be clear. Create a dedicated path and let dd know it needs to be clear each night. Toys that are part of a set-up can simply be moved a few inches, and moved back when play resumes. My kids once had a narrow space between one side of the bed and then the bookcase and dresser. That's what had to be clear each night. They kept elaborate setups on the other side of the room, anything on the narrow side was put in a bin for the night.  If the room has equally wide sides, pick a different cue. Everything has to be clear from the right side of the bed to the beginning of the bookcase, or to the edge of the rug, whatever. 

Another trick is to take a picture of the setup if some things have to be moved. My kids would get very attached to certain setups and never want to take them down, but at some point you have to move on with life and reclaim that section of the dining room, lol. So we'd take a picture and the possibility of recreating it exactly made them feel better. They never did, but they could have.  

Get a system going, get into a rhythm of quick clean-ups, and certainly it's reasonable to insist on at least one clear path in the bedroom each night. 

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Many years ago when I had many young children I turned my linen closet into a toy closet. We stored all the toys in that closet. Since I had a bunch of little kids that would get into it and pull everything out at once, I had my husband put a lock on it. So there was a key and I kept the key. Nothing came out of that closet without my permission and a the end of the day all the toys were picked up and put back into the closet. There were a few toys that were kept out of the closet but nothing that could cause a mess. 

Susan in TX

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I remember when my son learned to read he came stomping down the steps and demanded to know why one of his toy bins was labeled “goodie bag crap.” He was soooo offended. ?

It’s so much easier if you can find a place to put stuff and purge when she’s outgrown some things. Give her access to multiple bins, but not more than she can manage herself. Maybe install a shelf up by her ceiling for bins and let her have 3-5 where she can reach. If she wants to swap a bin, she has to turn in a cleaned-up bin. You can also store “maybe” toys here and get rid of an entire bin if she doesn’t touch it for a few years. 

It’s a short season. In a few years her toys will get tiny and expensive and it’ll be easier to purge. 

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On 7/3/2018 at 12:46 PM, katilac said:

You need clean-up times built into the day. We used to do this 2-3 times a day. Pick a trigger for each clean-up and make it part of the routine; the trigger should be something pleasant: before lunch, before walking to the park, before screen time, whatever. 

You're not going for co.plete tidiness at these times, just keeping things from getting out of control. If she insists she's going to finish coloring that picture today, maybe she doesn't pick everything up, but she does close the coloring book, put loose crayons back in the box, and stack the box on the coloring book. If she's working on an elaborate setup, she can keep it up but pull things out of the walking path, and so on.  

Before you can figure out a solution, you have to nail down what the problem really is. It sounds to me like the truly aggravating thing for you is stepping on toys at night. So, look at that problem specifically. Adults look at a room and it's obvious to us that we're going to be dodging Legos and Polly Pockets that night, but kids don't see things in the same way. They see the world they created, not a tripping hazard. You have to give strong visual cues on what needs to be clear. Create a dedicated path and let dd know it needs to be clear each night. Toys that are part of a set-up can simply be moved a few inches, and moved back when play resumes. My kids once had a narrow space between one side of the bed and then the bookcase and dresser. That's what had to be clear each night. They kept elaborate setups on the other side of the room, anything on the narrow side was put in a bin for the night.  If the room has equally wide sides, pick a different cue. Everything has to be clear from the right side of the bed to the beginning of the bookcase, or to the edge of the rug, whatever. 

Another trick is to take a picture of the setup if some things have to be moved. My kids would get very attached to certain setups and never want to take them down, but at some point you have to move on with life and reclaim that section of the dining room, lol. So we'd take a picture and the possibility of recreating it exactly made them feel better. They never did, but they could have.  

Get a system going, get into a rhythm of quick clean-ups, and certainly it's reasonable to insist on at least one clear path in the bedroom each night. 

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Agreeing with these suggestions--my kids had to keep toys stored in their room also. They could have special permission to use other locations, but they had expiration dates or times. We just didn't have room (we just moved--new house will be a totally different challenge).

I also third or fourth the suggestion to have a miscellaneous box for the annoying toys, and I suggest having them purge what doesn't fit. I would not necessarily do this for regular toys--just for the annoying junky stuff, stickers, free crayons, etc.

We found that some toys were all the time toys and others were more fun once in a while (like Play-Doh). We tried to keep our organizational efforts pointed at keeping the every day stuff accessible, things with "pieces" that mattered together (defined by each child--sometimes that meant leaving a Lego truck assembled or all the mini figs in one place but most of the rest dumped together), and the stuff that was more fun to play with intensively for a week and then forget for a while in less easily accessed places. The everyday stuff was definitely diverse enough to support cross-category play. 

One of my kids cleans well by category, and if I prompted him by category, we could clean up pretty quickly. He internalized how to do this eventually, and now he's amazing. We did have a misc bin for him. We also had a step-down system for toys he was outgrowing--he could put them away, but they wouldn't leave the house or whatever until some time had passed. Then he could decide on what to do long-term much more easily. It was not that hard to do this. Oftentimes, having them become "family" toys that could come up once in a while as a treat was enough to help him move on. 

The other has visual processing issues, trouble sequencing tasks, coordination issues, etc. so he is totally overwhelmed cleaning up by category. He much prefers to start in a corner and just work his way through things. I find this super painful. We are still finding our way with this, but I tend to give him places to stuff important things, encourage very distinct areas for the items that get left behind the most--trash, paper supplies, books, etc. His biggest problem is that he often gets stuff that he doesn't want mixed up together (books, socks, random lego pieces, prizes from Awana, whatever) with stuff that does matter to him, but then he can't visually separate it. So, having a desk drawer for papers (which he has to start purging if they fill it up), a place to stack books, a clothes hamper for dirties, and a rack to hang up his Awana bag all tend to help him have an easier time cleaning up the toys. But sorting the toys is not necessarily something that helps him unless he is trying to keep important pieces from getting lost (for this, we tend to keep a tackle box for tiny Lego pieces). 

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