By: Stephanie Hawkins
If you’re like most new parents, you emerged from the fog of the newborn phase, only to realize your house had transformed into a Baby’s R Us. These days, the arrival of a baby triggers an avalanche of baby clothes, toys, and gear. And not surprisingly, most homes are not prepared to absorb it all.
How to deal with all the toys
Tucking clothes into dressers and bibs into drawers is a straightforward way to deal with some of the baby stuff. But less obvious is how to deal with all of the toys.
Toys seem to breed like rabbits making it difficult to contain them all (where do you put 37 stuffed animals?). And the variety in size and type of play things renders a simple toy cabinet inadequate.
But there is hope! You can corral your kid’s toys, make tidying-up a snap, and create adult and kid-friendly spaces within your home. Over the next few weeks I’ll discus a 5-step organizational process here based on Julie Morgenstern’s Organizing from the inside out.
Aim for good enough not perfection
As you read through the steps over the coming weeks, remember, there is no right way to organize your kid’s stuff. And give yourself a break mama, aim for good enough, not perfection.
Today we’ll start with the most critical – and seldom done – part of the process: analysis.
Step 1: Analyze your space, analyze yourself
Put away your wallet. The organization process does not start with a trip to the container store. It starts with an analysis of your current situation. Gaining insight into why and how toys are taking over your house will guide you towards the proper toy bin products and storage places.
So grab and pen and paper and write down the answers to these 3 questions.
Walk through your house and look the toys and places where you children play with them. Ask yourself:
- What storage solutions do I already have in place that work well?
- Where do my kids play with their toys?
- Which toys can I or my kids always find?
If a storage container and storage place is working for you and your family, don’t change it. Use what works to inspire you to fix storage problems that don’t.
Example: My 15-month-old loves to play with blocks. She always knows to retrieve them from the shallow basket under the living room coffee table.
What’s not working?
Now take a look at your children’s toys and the places they use them and ask yourself:
- What toys make the living/play/bed room look messy?
- What can my child never find?
- Which toys are never put away?
Plan to start your toy organizing project with the area of the house that bothers you the most.
Example: My 3-year-old always brings his huge collection of matchbox cars into the living room down from his bedroom, with the race track. I can never relax in the living room at night because I keep finding cars everywhere!
What would make you happy?
Finally, imagine what would make you happy. Would you like to have an adult-friendly area of the house? Would you like to have a dedicated playroom? Would you like an arts and crafts space? Envision the project completed. What does it look like?
Stay tuned in the coming weeks as I’ll be discussing the next step in organizational process: Sorting & Discarding.
Stephanie Hawkins is the founder and principal operator of Haven Home Organizing. As a business-owner and dedicated domestic engineer, she has a passion for helping busy parents simplify their home lives. With two children, she understands the unique challenges faced by mothers in the workforce. Stephanie has an affinity for order, she has a Master’s of Library and Information Studies from McGill University. You can also follow her on Twitter @HavenOrganizing.