Got Toy Clutter? Pley it Smart with These Tips to Minimize the Mess

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Pley.  All opinions, as always, are 100% my own.

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A little over a week after Christmas, I was quietly tip-toeing up the hall late in the evening after doing some blog work.  My husband and kids had been in bed for quite some time. I left the lights as dim as possible as I walked slowly and quietly in my socks, hoping not to awaken anyone. I made it up the steps and half way down the hallway past my son’s bedroom feeling quite proud and accomplished when out of no where I felt the most horrendous, dreaded stabbing pain in my foot that not only caused me to let out the loudest yelp I’ve uttered in my lifetime but literally brought me to my knees.  My husband leapt out of the bed and flung on the lights as if he was about to find a crime scene.  Lo and behold there I was – defeated and lying on the floor – accompanied by one tiny green square LEGO. That stubborn on inch square of hard plastic took me down without a chance. It downright brought me to tears! But as much as I hated the pain of that LEGO mishap, I was almost glad it happened – because it was the kick I needed to get my toy clutter in order.

New Years resolution #1 – Resolve to Conquer the Toy Clutter!

I came up with a 5 Goals to get our toy clutter and play things in order and I thought I would share what seems to be working pretty well for us . Here’s the plan:

Goal #1 – Organize. Organize. Organize.

Organizing toy clutter (although never a fun chore) is always much easier when you go in armed with a game plan.  I have found that choosing a time when the kids are not at home helps to avoid some of the battle as to why I am deciding to purge some of their things. Truthfully, they have accumulated so much “stuff” that I am pretty sure they will not even realize many of the “things” are missing once I am finished my mission.

Next place two (or more) large cardboard boxes and a large plastic bin (or two) with a lid in a row. Mark the cardboard boxes as donate and Sell/Consign and  label the plastic bin(s) as storage. The initial sweep through the toys should include removal of any outgrown toys.  All outgrown toys that are unable to passed along to a younger sibling immediately go into the donate or sell boxes.  Any broken toys are placed in the trash or recycle bins.  Toys with missing parts (that the children still enjoy) are put aside to see if the missing parts appear as I continue to sort.

Next, any toys that have not been touched in the past year are placed in the sell or donate boxes.  Even with two quick sorts, I am able to quickly minimize a nice chunk of toys creating an abundance of space for toys I plan to keep.

Items can be sorted into categories such as dolls, doll clothes, play food etc.  Small collectible items like Shopkins, Matchbox cars and My Little Pony dolls are best in small bins with lids or metal lunch style boxes that can be reasonably purchased at 5 Below. I love the metal lunch boxes because they are super cute, portable and easy to stack – and they fit perfectly on a bookshelf.  See through shoeboxes with lids work great too so they kids can easily see what is inside.  Having the portability option makes it easy to grab and go to bring along to a friend’s or Gram and Pop’s house or to a doctors appointment or visut where they made need something to occupy them to pass the time.  I can also easily rotate groups of smaller toys this way by placing the whole boxes into my storage containers which I use to rotate toys every 2 or 3 months to keep them fresh and exciting.

Lastly, my plan for the sell box is to list some of the items on our local Facebook Yard Sale sites (where I have done very well selling items in the past) and the rest I will be bringing along to one or two local consignment sales that I will be selling at this spring.  By the way – consignment sales are such a great way to turn kid clutter into cash!

Goal #2. For every new toy that comes in, one or two must go out.

By teaching the children that with each new toy they purchase or receive, they must then choose a toy or two to donate, they are not as persistent about buying every toy that catches their eye at the store AND they become more mindful of which toys they really enjoy versus which ones are not so loved.  Additionally, it gives them opportunity to feel good about donating toys to children who may not be as fortunate.  I always remind them how much that toy will be loved by another child who may not have many toys at all. This sense of giving has certainly made my children more willing to part with toys while helping them to feel good about where they will be going.

Goal #3 When family members ask for gift ideas,  suggest non-toy gifts such as gift cards or experiences.

I am always thrilled when family members and friends reach out for gift giving ideas for my kids.  Gifting them with a day at the zoo or a gymnastics class or a fun day out for a mani pedi or some packs of quarters for the arcades at the shore – are all gifts my kids not only love but they also create fun memories with them.  Day trips, memberships and gift cards to movies and play places are all wonderful – and require minimal (if any) storage!

._Kid Photo Shoot 8_15-521Pley kids on floor

Goal #4 Give Toy Rental a Try.

Who doesn’t love getting mail?  Imagine the excitement in your child’s eyes when the mailman shows up with a package of new toys for them on a regular basis!  Toy rental from companies like Pley are a fun, economical and exciting way to bring new and exciting toys to your child.  By opting for toy rental, parents can save up to $800 per year on toys! Best of all, Pley offers access to a large selection of educative toys, including 400+ LEGO sets and popular robotics toys.  The service could not be more convenient – Pley packages get delivered to your door and when the kids are done playing, they can return them for a new toy. No more toys sitting unused on shelves!

And as for those LEGOs, no matter how hard I’ve tried, I have not been able to find a system that really works for us.  Many of the finished sets have broken apart and now have missing pieces. As for the rest of the pieces, they are so tiny and there are so many and so many colors and sizes I do not even know where to begin.  I do not want to discourage my children’s love of building and creating so I really think that Pley’s toy rental service would be an awesome way to solve this never ending battle.  My kids can receive sets on a regular basis, build them, take lots of pictures of their creations – and SEND THEM BACK! No need to store – and much less chance of this gal being defeated by a LEGO in one step again!

Goal #5 – If you play with it, you must put it back!

Whether it is toys we own or toys we rent, the big rule in the house is going to be every toy must go back to its place when the child is done playing.  By taking out one or two toys at a time and being firm that they must go back to the storage spot when the child is finished not only helps keep toy areas clean, but it also supports good habits and encourages responsibility.  I have given the kids an analogy that goes something like this.  “Hey kids, do you know how when we go to the library we need to check out a few items but when we are done with them we must take them back in good condition?  Well, we are going to start doing the same with our toys!  You can walk over to the toy bins or toy shelves and take the item or items you want to play with but after playtime is over you must take them back.  No leaving toys behind or on the floor or on a table.”  By explaining the concept this way, the kids have a better understanding of what is expected of them.

With the start of the new year, I am looking forward to more organization, more space for the kids to play with the toys they do have, and more time to spend as a family enjoying quality time together instead of having to constantly clean up the mess!  Have you resolved to conquer the toy clutter this year?  If so, what has been working for you?

 



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