So today I wanted to share some of the things I am doing to take the first step towards normalcy: getting all the new toys under control!
1. Out With the Old
I think we've all heard this one by now but it bears repeating: if you haven't already purged old toys and playthings before the holidays, now is the time to do so. I had a hard time getting rid of as much stuff as I needed to before the holidays, because the girls still get out (and enjoy) all of the toys they have from time to time. I got rid of some stuff, but I knew it wasn't enough. After seeing the girls playing with their new, age-appropriate (or slightly beyond their years) toys though, it's become a little bit easier to get rid of the stuff they got 2 years ago. As much as they enjoy them, they don't stimulate their curiosity or teach them new skills like the new ones do.
I throw everything into trash bags and take them to the local Salvation Army or Goodwill store. I used to try to sell things, either on Craigslist or at a resale store, but I've come to realize that it's not worth the time or the energy to get that little bit of money back in my pockets. Plus, since I don't have time to do a lot of community service, I like the idea that I'm donating to a good cause. Whatever you do, just get the stuff out of your house!
Have you noticed that a lot of toys and playthings are bigger than they need to be in their original storage? The girls got several new games this year, and they each came in a big box. While some thing don't waste any space in their boxes, a lot of them did. The card matching game I took out of the box and put it into a plastic baggie. So that I wouldn't completely lose the cute cover on the box (which the girls liked), I cut out part of the front (just enough to fit inside the box) and threw away the rest.
The blocks game was simple. Since it only had 7 pieces and they were each big enough to not worry about getting lost from each other, I just stuck them in one of the (newly emptied) bins in the girls' toy storage, along with the ziploc bag of cards, and got rid of the box altogether. So much smaller, and a lot easier for the girls to access themselves too!
3. In With the New
Now that you have some empty storage space left by the removal of old toys and you've consolidated everything to be as streamlined as possible, it's time to put everything away. Before sticking everything into the empty spots, though, I like to take stock of what I have where and see if there are better ways I could be storing and organizing them. Sometimes things that made sense a year ago don't make sense any more, now that the kids are taller and more independent, and the types of toys they have are changing.
I had, for example, been storing the play dough with the art supplies, but I realized that they don't really use the play dough with markers or paper. They use it with the kitchen toys like the rolling pin and the knives. So I moved the play dough over to a box near the kitchen supplies, and now it makes a lot more sense!
You may also be able to adjust the categories you use for storing toys- I got rid of some old puzzles but got several board games, which we haven't had before, so maybe the couple of puzzles I kept should be stored with the board games in a category of "games"? I'm still figuring that one out, but it's good to be thinking about which storage systems work and what is outdated.