I know there have been a lot of toy threads, but I'm looking for some new inspiration. I have three boys (6, 4 and 2) and we do not have a lot of toys by current standards (as in, I've been to some friends houses who have 3x as many toys and they only have one child). I am constantly giving toys away and throwing away pieces and broken toys. Literally, bag loads before Christmas and usually a bag once every few months. So, while I know getting rid of some more toys would help, I don't think it's the biggest problem.
The biggest problem is the kids just go through everything like tornadoes and do not pick up after themselves. Our basement playroom is constantly destroyed. I don't mind it being a little messy - that's why its great to have a playroom. But every bin we have is dumped on the floor, toys scattered everywhere, even their two chairs for a table are overturned usually. My 6 year old is pretty conscientious about his legos (keeps them on a table in the basement), but my 2yo enjoys pulling entire bins of legos off the table and dumping them on the floor. Keeping them out of reach would be a great idea, but he is a climber and can get them off of shelves, too. My 4yo loves action heroes and drags 6 or so of them upstairs and plays with them on the stairs and then just leaves them there, along with the space ship he was using. When I see that someone has left something out I usually tell them to put it away, but I can only monitor their toys for so many minutes a day. I'd be following them around all day telling them to put stuff away if I really wanted it tidy.
I am just so sick of that room being a total disaster. DH and I have a mega clean and sort about once a month down there. And we get the kids to help for part of the time. I told my 6yo that we're starting a new rule - as soon as you're finished playing you have to put your toy/s away before moving on to something else. But I don't quite know how I'm going to enforce that (maybe take something away that is sitting out for a period of time?) I am just fed up and want to know what other people do who have several children and don't have the ability to sit and monitor their childrens play all day??
I had that problem. I got tired of it and told my kids that they have to put things away after they are done playing with it. At the end of the day, if there is anything left out...I get rid of it. They know this rule and it works. There are times when I end up tossing out a bunch of stuff. My thought is if you can't take care of it then obviously you don't need it.
It is on the extreme end of things, but it works for me.
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" --Leonardo Da Vinci
I'm dealing with this too, and my current plan is to get some shelves that attach to wall brackets, and put a lot of things on those (nothing to climb up, so the toddler can't reach). I'll have to get down bins of small things so I can have some control.
And anything that's left out, gets put in time out. If it gets put in time out consistently, and they aren't asking for it, then it gets donated.
I have all our toys in canvas bins on a bookshelf. All sorted. Our rule is one bucket out at a time. Sometimes DD3 will get mad, but it's the rule and if you don't follow the rule you get a time out for not listening, and you still have to clean it up. Clean it up and then you can play with the cars or ponies or music. Although sometimes my DD 3 yrs will get the baby dolls out at the kids table and set it nice, then hang up their clothes "in the closet" a Rose Petal cottage store, and make them food. :) But she's good at cleaning up and knows where things go. And I have threatened the garbage before. I've never had to go thru with it..just the sound of the garbage bag opening is enough to get them hopping!!
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I have 3 girls - 6, 5, and 4, so I feel your pain! LOL! I have gotten to the point where I have donated over half of their toys. I sold a train table and 2 toddler beds on Craigslist (we all pile into a family bed). I'm about to put a play market on Craigslist. So, that has given us back a lot of floor space. I'm trying to talk them out of the play kitchen, too. We've had it for about 5 years (it's still in good condition), but they have all moved on. They do play with it, but I don't think they would miss it. I went through all their toys (we keep most of them in baskets or bins) and just weeded through it. Do they really need 20 Barbie's? Or can we pick 5 or 6 that they love most. Do they need 2 doll houses or can we donate one? Stuffed animals....OMG....seriously? We're only keeping the meaningful ones. And our new rule is that there are NO more toys coming into the house unless they use their own money or it's a gift (sometimes Mommy is a sucker. LOL!) *AND* we implemented the one in, one out rule.
Today, all 3 of them entertained themselves with the tie from my bath robe....FOR AN HOUR!! They love boxes and art. Honestly, I could get rid of everything and they probably wouldn't notice because they are too busy taking the pillows and blankets off the bed and making forts. It sounds like you do a great job at purging, but just when you think you've gotten rid of stuff take another look around. ;) I got tired of asking them to clean up, so we just have less toys. Honestly, they don't notice.
I'm also doing this with my own stuff, so our house is really starting to come along. Good luck!
I know you said that you don't have time to constantly monitor the toys, but in the beginning you may have to be a bit of a nazi about it. It'll take time for them to adjust to the new rules. One of the rules about toys that my mom had for me growing up was that if it was left out after I was done playing with it (or at the end of the day), she took it away. To get it back, I had to "pay" for it. Because I had an allowance, it was usually a dime or a quarter. If you don't do an allowance, you could make the payment an extra chore or something.
Married to my loving hubby, proud mama to Ethan (9/09) and Rowyn (7/12) and aspiring homesteader
Missing my twins, Owen and Sophia, born too soon, July 2011
I think it ate my post. :)
I would recommend regular "tidy away" times. We do this with DS and for ourselves.
First, on a staying-at-home day (or a "normal" day), DS has freeplay until lunch time. Before making lunch, we tidy away. He then comes into the kitchen with me, and he helps me make lunch or plays in the cupboard (which is an empty cupboard, so it's kind of funny! LOL).
After lunch, we have quiet time -- which is usually when i'm online working and DS is either "reading" or doing some artworks (colors or wet-on-wet). This is minimum mess time. Toys aren't everywhere and it's nice.
DH comes home and man's the afternoon with DS. They go out for their walk/errands/playground time, and then come home for DS's free play. . Before cooking dinner, DH sings the tidy away song, and they tidy away. Then it's tubby time (DH starts DS's dinner), then PJs, then dinner. After dinner it's teeth, candle ritual, and stories. I come home, and put DS to bed.
AFter DS is asleep, DH and I tidy the whole house up -- clothes, bags, shoes, whatever else is around. Just tidy up.
-- On days when we go out, I make sure that the house is tidy before we leave. We do a whole tidy. DH and I start with tidying up the house, then we do the tidy away song for DS. He helps us finish it off, and then we get coats, shoes, bags, and out the door.
It's just much easier to have everyone do it multiple times a day. Also, DS is less likely to just go haywire and dump everything out everywhere, and then also, he is more likely to just tidy away on his own. Some days, we hear him doing it in between his self-guided play activities. He'll start singing, and we'll hear him putting away his toys. Then he'll say "it's all clean! lets play again!" and then he gets some toys and starts playing again.