This may seem like a no-brainer for some of you, but for me it was a revelation. Are you ready? Okay. *drumroll* Keep your kids' toys sorted by type!
(Are you rolling your eyes, or did a little lightbulb just go on above your head?)
Once upon a time we had bins and boxes full of any and all types of toys. Trucks were in with maracas were in with play food were in with little plastic zoo animals. I thought we were doing toy storage the best way, since clean-up was just a matter of sweeping up everything off the floor and dumping it into the nearest empty container. Trouble was, we could never find anything. And sometimes not finding that one special toy that my son had to have right now now now would lead to tears.
So: Plan B.
We got a hand-me-down toy organizer like this one, and that prompted me to put my OCD to work by designating each bin a home for a particular type of toy. We now have bins for specific things like dinosaurs, animal figurines, people figurines, musical instruments, and train parts (and one for all those miscellaneous things kids tend to collect). We have a big bin full of stuffed animals and puppets and another big bin full of all things car, truck, tractor, and stretch Hummer that thumps a beat and flashes its lights when you push the little button on the hood. We have a bookcase with one shelf reserved for puzzles, one for games, and one for building bricks and blocks. It sounds a little...involved, yes, but it works!
Now when my son wants to find a certain toy, he knows right where to look. Now clean-up takes a little bit longer, but it doubles as sorting practice. Now we're reinforcing concepts he practices at preschool, since all their shelves and bins are labeled by type. Now we have more time to play because we're not wasting it upturning every bin and couch cushion looking for one little toy even though there are a hundred other things to play with. And now our house isn't quite such a chaotic jungle.
When we first put this plan into action, I wasn't sure we'd be able to maintain it, and I wasn't sure it would make that big of a difference. I was wrong on both counts. Sorting toys works great for our family and is here to stay.
Do you sort your toys?