A few weeks ago we put away Sabine’s changing pad and moved the bookcase that had served as a changing table to the corner to hold toys and create more play space. It was an exciting big girl move for our little kid and she loved coming in after bath and announcing “No changing pad!”
The change allowed us to move some toys out of the living room and into her room where she could easily see and get them, too. But there were still four bins of toys and four shelves of books in the living room. I started to notice that the toys in the bins were often neglected and that the bins were becoming catch-alls for random junk.
This morning I was indulging in what I call “Organization Porn,” also known as Pinterest, when I stumbled upon an article “Why I Got Rid of the Toys.” I had stepped on a princess moments before meaning toy reduction was on the brain. I read with zeal as a woman recounted getting rid of many of her child’s toys and setting up the playroom to function more like an office for learning.
I was intrigued. I liked the idea of fewer toys all out in the open so the child can see what he or she has. I had noticed on my own that the toys remaining in the living room bins were often neglected and that she really enjoyed taking her doll house or tool box off the shelf to play on her own. I also liked the idea that having all toys out and easily accessible might foster a desire to help us clean up each evening.
This morning Sabine and I set to work. We emptied all the bins and cleaned out the garbage and broken toys. Then I removed all toys that were too young for her. The nice wooden baby toys were packed up and set aside for when babies come to visit or to possibly pass on to a friend. A few toys are a little advanced for her at this stage so I packed them up, too. And a few other things went into a donate pile.
Two bins of arts and crafts supplies were culled and organized at the top of the bookshelf (out of her reach but visible so I can easily remember what activities we have). Those shelves hold our oil pastels, stamps and ink pads, glitter, playdough, paints, punches and glue. Four shelves hold toys, a few clear containers with musical instruments and trains, and her dollhouse. The one loan blue bin holds dress-up clothing.
I set up a permanent art station at her table with one coloring book, a blank notebook for doodles, crayons, and colored pencils. Her play kitchen (which happens to be my best toddler Craigslist find – $15 for a wooden kitchen!) holds pots, pans, and play food.
I was ready to part with some stuffed animals but Sabine was not. When I saw tears threatening I decided to be happy with the progress we made and piled all her plush critters in a laundry basket. We can thin them out in the coming weeks.
I am so happy with how her room functions now. The only toy that remains in the living room is a bin of Legos, and that is because the mornings are family building time. We sip coffee, check email and build exciting houses and barns for her animals and dolls. The freed up shelves in the living room mean her large book collection can be spread out and organized better.
Our take on a tidy play space is not as minimal as the one in the article because we have VERY limited storage space. My box of baby toys and box of big kid toys pretty much takes up all the storage space in her closet making rotating toys a little more tricky. That said, now that all our toys are out I feel that we have a really nice spread of fun and creative toys for her to play pretend, learn new skills and make art.
How do you manage the toy explosions? What is your favorite thing to do with the toys your kids outgrow?