Wednesday, January 9, 2008

A great existential problem...


This week is a backwards Works for Me Wednesday at Rocks in My Dryer, where we get to pose our question to the Internet and it will be magically answered (I hope!)...

So here's the great existential problem I have today...

How do you keep the toys organized?
How do you keep all the pieces together so that the toys can be played with in their set?
How do you keep all the legos together, the puzzles together, the Little People together, the trains together...I have separate bins but when they get put away, they often get all mish-moshed together (that's a technical term, btw)
How do you get the kids to put them away in the right places without having to pick them up on your own? (A terrible controlly sort of thing that I try to avoid doing...and then about once a week or once every other week, I do a major re-sort of all the toys.)

Help me, O Wise Internet!
(And help other people here...)

And...Stay tuned...beginning next Monday is the All-Green, All-Trees, All-Week Celebration of Tu B'Shevat, the Birthday of the Trees! (With at least one great giveaway....maybe more!)

Tu B'Shevat Birthday Party for the Trees at Imabima.blogspot.com

14 comments:

Angela said...

Bags and clear buckets with lids, sterilite brand from walmart. Then practice. and staying on top of things. If you don't enforce what you ask of your kids they won't do it. Practice works. I promise. Over lots of time.

Amy said...

That is SO not your responsibility!!! Provide the containers that your kids need to keep things straight, and then make THEM do it!

I will go in and really clean the toy room, and reorganize everything, quarterly or so. Otherwise, I just toss everything in bins. If my 2.5 year old wants it neater than that, she can keep it neater than that. I'm her mom, not her maid.

Please visit me today and tell me what you think on my dilemma.

Amy (viva la liberation!)

JoAnn said...

I use those plastic drawers that have three primary color drawers. Each drawer is labeled and the colors help them remember "oh yeah, barbie is in green." We have five of them, I think, in the kids' bedroom. If they don't put away their toys before bed that night, they lose a priviledge that they really like (video games, computer time) the next day. Every so often (not more than monthly), I'll help them go through the drawers and clean them up.

BJ said...

well, if you were like my husband, you'd take the toys away. We have organized. We have helped. We have guided. We have reorganized. We have yelled. By we, I mean me. Finally, my husband, tired of hearing the tirades from me to the kids, and annoyed at tripping his way to their beds to tuck them in, gathered it all up, and locked it away in our storage room. ha, ha! Seriously, they have hardly anything right now. We are going to start bringing out a bit at a time, so they can make some good habits in small steps. Nothing else has worked so far. Oh, and I've thrown out/given away the majority of their toys anyway. We're sticking to very specific purposes for toys (building blocks, dress-up, and creative), and that helps eliminate a lot of toys. I hope this helps.

reflectionsofarabbiswife said...

Ziplocs and ditto what amy said.

K in the Mirror said...

We're working through this problem too- I know it's not my responsibility to clean up everything, but I also feel that it's my job to create a system where my kids actually know where stuff goes and CAN clean it up without being overwhelmed.

My daughter is almost five, so recently she and I looked at her toys and I asked her where she thought they would go. We talked about different kinds of buckets and how much space we needed for things, and she helped me figure out where she wanted to put her stuff. That helped a lot- if she has some ownership in the process and it makes sense to her, she's more excited about cleaning.

The next step is to take pictures of the bin with the toys in it, so that if the bucket gets dumped out, she knows what should go back in it. They do that at her sunday school class and it really helps.

SAHMmy Says said...

Ah Phyllis, this is a subject near and dear to my heart! Containers of all sorts and sizes--tight snapping lids for sets with tiny pieces you don't want them to play with without knowing where the baby is, large plastic bins for train sets, ziplocs for crayons and small Lego sets--I'll use anything! I've taught my son that we put each set of toys back in its appropriate container so we'll always be able to find what we're looking for. The baby likes to "help" put things away and my 3 year old will remove items from "wrong" containers and show her where they're "supposed to go!" It makes it easy to teach him to clean up as well--instead of an overwhelming order to "clean your room!" I just hand him a container that holds, say, Star Wars action figures and ask him to find all of those. Then I'll give him the laundry basket for the stuffed animals...breaking it down into parts helps him do it "himself."

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

We are working on this too.

I am trying to change the way they play, not just the way they clean up. If they can play more orderly, ie, we play with little people, then put them up, then play with legos, then put them up - it keeps things from getting so trashed to begin with.

I do think the first step is to get rid of tons of toys. There will always be another Christmas or birthday. If you can't bear to go cold turkey, then put them in the garage. If they don't notice they are gone after a week, get rid of them.

I bought a bunch of Sterlite boxes from Dollar General with LIDS (2.50 each) and put the name and a photo on each one (just printed on the computer and taped on with clear packing tape.) One with dolls, one with art supplies, paper, cars, bristles blocks, legos. And I talked, talked talked about how much nicer it was to be able to find all your toys when you want to play with them. You can only have one bin out at a time. Can't pull one out till you have put away the other.

The puzzles etc that must stay together in order to work, I put up high and maintain complete control over. Have to ask me to get it and then I make sure it gets put away.

Here is what I think is the best tool, when I remember to implement it: No one gets fed in this house until the toys are picked up. So we do a clean sweep before lunch and another before dinner. And I help them. That way, it never gets too out of hand, I supervise that it goes back in the proper place, and they are motivated by hunger!

It IS their responsibility, but I want it done orderly, not just everything tossed in a bin all mish mashed. My thing is, I have to struggle to keep organized. I am hoping that if I train them to do this now, it will be natural for them in the future and they will not have to struggle like I do.

Hope this helps...

Robyn said...

Put everything in sterilite boxes with lids, and keep all the toys in a locked room or closet. Let them have one box out at a time.

When they want different toys, they have to turn in the old box, and exchange it for a new one.

That's the only solution we've found that works. One box, per child at a time. Keep everything else locked up.

We've tried different organizer bins, and different methods, but this way saves me time and headaches, and chaos.

I don't have time to sit with them each day to organize 5000 categories of toys. Giving them one thing at a time keeps things organized and simple.

Kelli @ Gohn Crazy said...

I addressed my solution to this in a WFMW a while ago - http://gohnfamily.blogspot.com/2007/09/works-for-me-wednesday-toy-organization.html - in short...cubbies and boxes with tags to show the contents. I love this system!

Phyllis Sommer said...

thank you all so much for these great ideas! i am going to combine kelli's beautiful system (i use exactly the same cubbies and bins...yay for the velcro idea) with the photos, which i spent time taking today! thank you all this is going to rock my toy world:-) i <3 the internet!

Kristen said...

My cousin is a librarian and she used the bags that libraries keep their children's books/cassette tapes in to hold all her kid's puzzles. (the bags with the little built in handles.) She installed a small curtain rod in the playroom and now all the puzzles (or similar sized items) are hanging up in clear plastic bags.

Angie said...

I was using clear containers with lids, and never had any luck. Finally, we just moved to open containers (white plastic ones with holes all over -- I picked them up a Walmart very reasonably). This has helped.

Plus, I have to admit, the ones that are easier for the kids to figure out are the ones they tend to be better at -- you know, like a big tub full of Fisher-Price people or a tub full of play kitchen food. But, then when I try to get deep and come up with some odd way to categorize items, then they don't get it.

Rivster said...

I love these ideas and wish I could get PC to sign on. However, HE doesn't like the "look" of the sterilite. Instead we have lovely woven baskets that coordinate with the decor of the chosen room.

Which means that all that crap gets dumped into whichever basket is handy and he can sort them when it gets to be too much!