Originally published January 20, 2013
We are now two-thirds of the way through Get Organized Month!
I’ve been blogging like crazy this month to give you one task per day to help you be better organized and more productive – how are you making out?
I’m ready for a break, so today I’m turning things over to Hanna Anderson from FullTimeNanny.com, with some great tips for organizing toys, whether you’re a nanny or a mom.
Part of a nanny’s regular duties include keeping their charge’s rooms, play areas and the family’s common living areas clear of clutter. This is no easy feat when today’s toddler accumulates such a staggering array of toys. Harried parents, especially those that work extended hours, may not have time to work out an organizational system to keep disorder to a minimum. For nannies who find themselves swimming in a sea of toddler toys, here are 10 tips for storing toys in a functional manner.
- Keep it Low – Unless you want to spend your day fetching toys for your pint-sized charges, make sure that the bulk of your storage system is engineered for their short stature. Vertical storage may be great for older kids, but it just creates frustration in toddlers and can inspire them to embark on unsafe climbing expeditions for the things they want but can’t reach.
- Use Bins and Baskets – While the number of toys your charges have acquired may have outgrown their toy box, you may not have the option of purging older items without your employer’s consent. Rather than risk overstepping your boundaries by putting older toys aside as new toys come in, arrange a series of bins and baskets to contain the overflow.
- Store Like With Like – Keeping toy trucks in one container and blocks in another helps a toddler find exactly what he’s looking for without emptying each and every bin of its contents during his search. This method also makes clean up easier for both you and your charges when playtime ends.
- Keep Shelves Safe – Even low-slung shelves can present a tipping hazard if they’re pulled on with enough force, which can easily happen when a toddler attempts to climb them. Anchoring shelves to make them safe and to prevent injuries as a result of a top-heavy tip-over is an essential part of organizing kids’ rooms.
- Make Favorites Easy to Find – Most children, even at the toddler stage, have a few favorite toys that see far more action than the others. Keeping these perennial favorites in easy reach makes her less likely to take out several toys that don’t quite live up to her expectations simply because her old faithfuls are nowhere to be found.
- Store Special Occasion Toys Out of Sight – Modeling dough, bubble solution and any other messy toys that must be used with close supervision are best stored out of sight to help reduce the temptation to pull them out before you’re prepared to deal with the ensuing mess. By keeping these toys stowed away, you can also generate a ton of excitement when you do present them.
- Make Clean Up Part of Your Routine Together – Children thrive when they have a relatively stable daily routine; making clean-up a regular part of your day and working together to put everything away helps toddlers understand that cleaning up is part of playing and that he’s partially responsible for helping to accomplish that task.
- Designate Containers For Toys in Common Areas – If your employers allow their children to play with toys in common areas like the living or family rooms, designating one bin or container per child is an effective way of corralling toys while still keeping them separated. Color-coding containers helps kids who aren’t reading pick out their own bin as they get a bit older as well.
- Hammocks For Stuffed Animals – Most toddlers have already amassed an impressive collection of stuffed animals and plush toys, but probably only have one or two favorites. Toy hammocks are a great solution because they are easy to put up and can accommodate several toys safely. Make sure, however, that hammocks are placed in a manner that doesn’t encourage scaling furniture in order to reach the toys inside.
- Labels Are Your Friend – While your toddler-aged charges might not be able to read, labels are still among the most useful organizational tool at your disposal. You’re not likely to remember which bin is designated for each kind of toy without a clue; labeling containers helps you keep track of them and makes clean-up time as short as possible. Labels that have both pictures and words can also promote word recognition.
Before you get carried away with grand organizing plans, make sure that you clear your ideas with your employer. In most cases, busy parents are more than happy to consider your plans objectively in order to cut down on the toy-filled clutter of their homes, so don’t hesitate to present your ideas in a respectful manner. Remember, without the participation of your employers, your system will only be effective while you’re on the clock and enforcing the cleanup rules.
Reprinted with permission from FullTimeNanny.com
For more ideas, follow my Organize – Toys board on Pinterest!