I’ll be the first to admit my children don’t have a ton of toys. We don’t rush to buy them the newest thing and we’re pretty selective about what we allow in the house (to the extent we can be). Nevertheless, somehow children’s toys end up with a million small parts that ended up scattered everywhere, can never stay organized and are often the source of nighttime fights – who cleaned the most, who isn’t doing their share, shoving everything in single bins, etc.
I’ve had enough. I hate that the boys sometimes spend almost an hour trying to get things cleaned up for bedtime. It makes me sad that they often fight about who isn’t doing their share and, I’ll be honest, I’m frustrated trying to walk into their rooms, seeing things piled high in bins all around them, pieces missing and stepping on tiny things that have been forgotten.
While they were out today, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Earlier in the week, I had picked up a stack of these Sterilite 18-quart latching bins from Target (on sale for about $5/each). Once they were out of the house, I loaded up some music, grabbed a trash bin and hit their room. Hard.
I cleaned up everywhere – from under their dressers, under the carpet, in between book shelves. I vacuumed and dusted and threw out miscellaneous toy pieces that I couldn’t easily identify to homes.
Once I was done, I had eight bins full of organized toys. It was so beautiful I could almost cry!
When they got home, they were thrilled to see how clean and organized their room was and I took a few minutes to explain to them what had happened to their toys and to introduce the new “Toy Library” to them. The rules are simple, but here they are in case you’re interested in doing something similar in your house:
- You can have a single bin (each) at any time.
- You are allowed to “trade” your bin at the library one time a day.
- You are responsible for cleaning up your bin while it is on loan to you – regardless of who was the last one to play with it. Once it’s cleaned up, the bin should be kept under your bed for the next day and each bin should be cleaned up daily.
There are additional rules, but as they’re more complicated, I’m planning on waiting a day or two until the idea sticks before introducing them. They can earn chore dollars by finding things in the wrong bin (to help me keep them organized). Each item is $1 chore dollar. Once they have $5, if they’d like, they can use that money to have an extra swap at the toy library.
The Toy Library lives in the garage and tomorrow, they’ll get their own library cards and the bins will be labeled with checkout cards, just like a real library. Stay tuned for Part 2 where I share resources to making your own library cards and share some of the details we made ourselves.
Have you done something similar with your kids’ toys? How did it go?