Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Take Over Your Space. Get it? :)

You don't have to be a parent (or grandparent, or in-home caregiver) for long to realize that your home can be overtaken very quickly by TOYS...blinky, flashy, often obnoxious toys. Toys, toys, everywhere! And that makes life so frustrating, especially when you're trying your hardest to keep a tidy house. There are days that I will clean an entire room from top to bottom, move on to the next, and by the time I come out (three minutes later) the first room is completely trashed again. (Those of you without children may also be able to empathize, but I can't help you with your husbands, haha.)

I know you understand my frustration, moms. We have ALL been there. And I bet there are some of you out there who have bigger problems than me! Evelyn doesn't even have a TON of toys. We rarely pick up a new gadget just for the fun of it, and I think because she's a girl, she's mostly given clothing as gifts. But it seems like you can't buy anything these days without it coming with 20 extra parts and accessories. Gah!

There came a point when I just decided to put my foot down and stop fighting this uphill battle. I DO have a life outside of picking up after a 15 month old. The idea popped into my head one day when I noticed Evie was dragging out every single toy she owned but was only playing with a few of them. One kid, two hands - makes sense. So why was I breaking my back picking up a box full of spilled toys when half of them weren't even getting played with? I don't know! Seemed dumb to me, too! I racked my brain, and then it hit me.

The answer: DIVIDE and CONQUER. I took every single toy that Evelyn had and split them into three groups: A selection for her bedroom, some for the living room, and some to HIDE. That's right. Hide. And my plan - it worked. Oh, yes, it did.

The beauty of hiding a third of your kid's toys is that you have the ability to rotate out what they play with. Every week or two it's like your child has a brand new selection of toys to choose from! And guess what? They won't even notice when most of them are gone. Rotating toys keeps their selection fresh, and keeps you from losing your mind.

Evelyn has a little pink wicker basket that we keep out in our family area. It's filled with plenty of little trinkets to keep her busy. But since this is only part of what she has, it definitely cuts down on the amount of clean up for mommy when she's done. It's still a pain in the rear when every single puzzle piece is scattered around the room, but it's tolerable.

There is another basket in her bedroom filled with a few things. Surprisingly, she's pretty good at keeping these toys only in her room. And the pink tub? Those are the hidden toys! She may eventually figure out what's in there, which will force me to have to get a little more creative with where I keep her hidden treasures. But it works for now, and it's still easily accessed by me. (If I kept the hidden toys in the basement or stowed away in a closet then even I would forget about them!)

As for the bigger toys, we divided those as well. We keep a couple out in the family area so that she can play with them while we're all gathered in the living room. The rest are in her bedroom, and there's even one in the basement - strategically placed for when I have to get some work done down there!

I can't even imagine what life would be like if I still had all of Evelyn's toys in one place. Either her bedroom would be a waste deep mess all.of.the.time, or I would spend all day every day plowing through it. No, thanks.  (Oh, the day that she's old enough to pick up her own junk will be bliss. Then I'll have to figure out a new strategy to get her to clean!)

So if you haven't already, I highly recommend trying to divvy up the play things in your home. Simply invest in a few baskets, or utilize some that you already have, and portion out toys to your little heart's content. It definitely worked for me. While I'd prefer a super robot that could just do all of the cleaning for me, I'll take cutting down my decluttering workload by two thirds for now!

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