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O, the Playmobil Madness. Help! (I'm sorry it's long.)

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
My kids' favorite toys in the whole wide world are Playmobil. We have a boatload of it, and I've never minded, since it's open-ended/imaginative play, etc.

I keep the big stuff, like vehicles (cement mixer, fire trucks, etc.) on shelves that we refer to as "The Parking Garage", which works really well. However, there are a billion tiny pieces that go to all of the sets of stuff (and believe me, we have SETS) that have wound up in plastic tubs.

Back when we only had a little, I separated types of PM stuff into their own bins: fire/rescue got red, knights/castle got blue, construction got orange, etc., etc. It worked great when only my son really played with it and he was only 2.5-4 at the time and his play was really small and focused and he liked to make worker guys dig, for example.

Now, my kids are 5 & almost-4, and both of them get really detailed, involved play going on. The bins were mixed last year and their play now involves the knights asking the construction guys over to help them fix the bridge when a fire suddenly occurs and they need the firefighters to come and help, so the police might as well go, too.......

Anyway, my problem is this: this involves dumping entire bins out on the floor now to find specific parts they need for their scenarios. I have not minded this to date, since I appreciate that they play so...well with such imaginative stuff going on.

However, it is driving me completely bananas insane to walk into the downstairs room and to find 932,674 pieces of PM stuff on the floor and literally no room to walk. It took us three hours to clean the playroom yesterday (including time for mama's deep breaths, kids' play breaks, etc.). I didn't care what went into any bin as long as everything was up off the floor so I could vacuum.

My question is this:

Would you go back to type-specific bins and only let a few out at a time to avoid the awfulness that is attempting to clean up such a mess?

Would you make kids clean up the mess at the end of every day to minimize the "Big Clean Up" days we seem to have? ((Of note, we have a dedicated playroom in the basement for the purpose of leaving big scenes out...but I'm willing to start a 'clean up every night' program if it means we won't have a big, awful day ahead of us to pick it up every week or two.))

Would you just go with it and deal, knowing that in a few years, this too shall pass and they're only young once and I need to get over myself?



I need some insight! Part of me wants to totally organize this & eliminate the terrible Big Cleans we have had to have - the kids hate them, too, passionately - and part of me thinks it's only my neurotic, organizing self talking and to just let the kids be.

Thoughts?


Thanks.
post #2 of 21
Could it be organized by type of item instead? Guys in one bin, tools etc in another, trees, animals in another... and then maybe they wouldn't need to be dumped out.
I would probably encourage nightly clean up of the stuff that wasn't part of the scene.
Maybe your boys would have a suggestion?
post #3 of 21
This is something I did with crayons which also apply to your situation. We had so many and it was hard to find what you were looking for. Crayons were everywhere. I usually just kept them all in one big bin. Then I decided to sort them by color group. Each color group has its own ziploc. The crayons have been unusually neat now for over a year and the girls still use them, they find them much easier to use as well because they are not as frustrated looking for certain colors. I would try to sort the playmobil into smaller groups that make sense. Ask the kids too what they think. Maybe all the guys in one bag and their accessories in another putting both bags sealed into the bigger bin. That way they can find what they need without spilling everything. They always know whayt they have and what they are looking for so if the categories make sense to them, it should be easier.
post #4 of 21
We have three giant rubbermaid totes of playmobil, I feel your pain. When we pulled it all out last time I sorted out all the stuff that never gets used, like the dishes and silverware, certain weapons and random things and bagged them up. That made a huge difference because now they don't have to dump ALL of it to find what they need, just most of it
post #5 of 21
I'd subdivide into smaller sets that contain a couple firemen, a couple police etc... so they can still mix and match to get more detailed scenarios without having to dump every single piece out at once.
post #6 of 21
If your kids aren't frustrated or looking for organization, I wouldn't touch it. If they seem frustrated the I would involve them in deciding how to organize- asking how they would like things grouped ( by theme, color, category, whatever).
In our house we have an Ikea area rug that's about 3 feet by 5 feet in front of the play bins so everything can get dumped on there. Since its in the playroom, I only ask him to clean it up on vacuum day, about twice a week. In his room we have a large tablecloth that he spreads out and dumps everything on ( knex everywhere, here). When he's done he folds it up because there isnt a lot of floor space there, and its great- it unfolds for tomorrow...At my Moms we do the same and I can dump it all back into the bin when we leave.
post #7 of 21
I like the plastic bag-crayon system.

I was going to suggest clear plastic tubs, rather than colored. Then, they can dig in a tub and look through the side of it to see the piece they want. Maybe.
post #8 of 21
I would include a small dustpan and broom in the playmobil stuff for cleanup. If they get all dusty from floor dirt being swept up you can sieve them. I also try to have low and wide bins so they can sort through them in place. You could also find some sort of trays they can use to sort through things.
post #9 of 21
I don't have older kids, but would encouraging more frequent clean ups be better? Instead of at the end of the day when everyone is tired, and it looks overwhelming; do it a few times during a play session. So if everything get's dumped out of a bin, it doesn't have to wait till the end of the day to get put back.

I also don't see anything wrong with limiting the toys-- either by sets, or just take one bin and put it up, and see what happens.
post #10 of 21
Looking for ideas to tame the playmobil sprawl here too.
post #11 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by kanga2roo View Post
In his room we have a large tablecloth that he spreads out and dumps everything on ( knex everywhere, here). When he's done he folds it up because there isnt a lot of floor space there, and its great- it unfolds for tomorrow...At my Moms we do the same and I can dump it all back into the bin when we leave.
That is awesome. Can I steal the idea? Even if they sweep it up off the sheet, they wouldn't be sweeping up the floor dirt. And, if you work on the principle that the sheet goes out and it all gets dumped every time you could keep it all in a big tote and not have to buy new containers.
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by kanga2roo View Post
In our house we have an Ikea area rug that's about 3 feet by 5 feet in front of the play bins so everything can get dumped on there. Since its in the playroom, I only ask him to clean it up on vacuum day, about twice a week. In his room we have a large tablecloth that he spreads out and dumps everything on ( knex everywhere, here). When he's done he folds it up because there isnt a lot of floor space there, and its great- it unfolds for tomorrow...At my Moms we do the same and I can dump it all back into the bin when we leave.
We do the same, with a big ikea rug, for ds. He has oogles & oogles of Playmobil and we have all hardwood floors....so for us, as long as he keeps it on the rug & the rug gets slid over/away at night, we're ok with it. Ours is also seperated into big bins and small bins with labels.
I love the tablecloth idea! The rug we use seems to almost hang on to some of the teeny tiny stuff tho, which helps.

...although, almost everytime I vacuum I think I suck up about 3 or 4 microscopic coins from the treasure chests.
post #13 of 21
my guys are 38 yrs old and 2 yrs old, and daily clean up is essential. we actually do it multiple times per day.
post #14 of 21
We still have big tote boxes for the bigger parts (trucks and such) and small bins on a rack for the small parts: guys and headcovers - animals - small parts (lamps, weapons, ...) - plant parts. It's not a "perfect" system but it has certainly cut down on the "just dump everything on the floor" episodes.
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by kanga2roo View Post
If your kids aren't frustrated or looking for organization, I wouldn't touch it. If they seem frustrated the I would involve them in deciding how to organize- asking how they would like things grouped ( by theme, color, category, whatever).
In our house we have an Ikea area rug that's about 3 feet by 5 feet in front of the play bins so everything can get dumped on there. Since its in the playroom, I only ask him to clean it up on vacuum day, about twice a week. In his room we have a large tablecloth that he spreads out and dumps everything on ( knex everywhere, here). When he's done he folds it up because there isnt a lot of floor space there, and its great- it unfolds for tomorrow...At my Moms we do the same and I can dump it all back into the bin when we leave.
OMGoo, I'm with the OP on the craziness. I tried to organize our Legos once by sorting them by type into plastic drawers--ya know, blocks in one drawer, plates in another, clear in another, etc; we have a lot of Legos--but my son and DH couldn't figure out what I did, so eventually they just ended up back in the big fabric bag they'd been in. The idea is that the bag spreads out flat, and he can play/build on that, but they always end up spreading further. *sigh*

But yeah, up in his room, we have his little Playmobil bits organized the way HE wants: people and accessories in one bin, other small bits in another, and then the big parts on shelves. We'll see how it goes...
post #16 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Delicateflower View Post
That is awesome. Can I steal the idea? Even if they sweep it up off the sheet, they wouldn't be sweeping up the floor dirt. And, if you work on the principle that the sheet goes out and it all gets dumped every time you could keep it all in a big tote and not have to buy new containers.
Someone else had a thread about lego clean up and a solution came up that was a huge sheet that tied up as a drawstring bag. Undo the drawstring, spread out the sheet and voila, play area and all objects are ready. Clean up = tie up the drawstring.
post #17 of 21
I have a playmobil lover as well, he's still really little though, almost 3 years old but he LOVES playmobil, he will fall asleep with it in his hands. I've actually come to really appreciate how well done Playmobil is compared to other toys, but the little stuff kills me. Goggles, flippers, tools, they are so tiny. At this point I'm tossing the little stuff because he's so young he doesn't notice, but I think I'm going to need some better solutions soon. The train table drawers seem pretty good because they are easy to spread things out in and search without dumping, so something long, wide and flat might be good for storage.
post #18 of 21
We have the same issues, though our "toy of choice" is Lego.

For organisation we gave DD a few small plastic boxes (Tupperware type things) which she uses to store some of the smaller Lego pieces,. That way she an find them without having to empty out the whole box. They live in the big box with the rest of the Lego.

Playing on a sheet/rug also seems to help keep the pieces contained. I've also heard of people making a play board from a sheet of plywood with castors on the bottom and batons fastened round the edges to make a lip. The idea was that the kids could play then slide the whole thing under the bed/sofa when they were done without having to dismantle everything. I would love to have something like this.

Another option which they use at the schools and preschools around are these big plastic trays http://www.keen2learn.co.uk/product/...ay---Black.php. You can get the same thing from building suppliers, they are used for mixing cement in. They are big enough for a few children to play, of course then you have the tray to store
post #19 of 21
I covet my friend's train table with storage her kids use for playmobil. I've used those long shallow plastic thingers from time to time, but ultimately it gets all over. I've also used those tool keeper things with many drawers but I think that was more my need to organize than any child's. I haven't met a kid who didn't want to paw through the mess looking for stuff. I think that's part of the appeal. Legos or pm or pollys or whatever. I would totally use the sheet idea if we had this particular issue currently.
post #20 of 21
Our Playmobil collection isn't quite as large as yours (yet, he's only 3). At this stage I keep all the tools, etc. together, all the hats (and hair) together, all the people together, then all the vehicles and buildings parked on shelves. DS mostly keeps his play on a foam playmat and if pieces wander off I pick them up throughout the day and put them on the playmat. I do a complete clean up every 3 days or so and put everything away so he can start fresh.

My son, too, finds amazing ways to incorporate the different sets into each other's realms. I love seeing the princess driving the hunting jeep.
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Mothering › Mothering Forums › Natural Living › The Mindful Home › Organize & Declutter › O, the Playmobil Madness. Help! (I'm sorry it's long.)