In my family we have all of our birthdays, our anniversary and Chanukah in the span of 4 months! So our house can get cluttered with toys quite quickly and many toys are never even played with.
In the first few years of their lives I asked for donations to organizations that meant a lot to our family. But as they got older they knew to expect presents, so it was much harder to figure out how to navigate the toy overload.
I then began creating Amazon Wish Lists for their birthdays/Chanukah so I could be sure that the toys we did get were at least parent approved. But then I began to feel like that was a bit over the top and micro-managing and only did that for my family who needed ideas.
Because my three kids are each 5 years apart I've gotten rid of some toys but have kept many knowing that the next kid would use it at some point.
But even with my limits on toys that make noise and have flashing lights, no guns or weapons or anything that needs batteries my house can still feel overloaded with toys, especially this time of year!
Having studied and worked in child development for over 20 years I know a lot about toys and play and child development. But even with my limits on toys that make noise and have flashing lights, no guns or weapons or anything that needs batteries my house can still feel overloaded with toys, especially this time of year!
So here are my tips for maintaining order among your toys:
1) Research shows us that toys with all the bells and whistles are actually NOT good for your little one's brains because they do all of the working for them. The best toys are ones that don't have any electronics at all and are just basic toys that your child can manipulate.
2) Additionally having every single toy out at all times actually causes your children to shut down and not really be able to make choices because it's too much all at once. Instead, rotate your toys every 3 months so that your child can play with different things and you can keep your house relatively sane without all of that toy clutter. Pick 5-7 toys to have out at once.
3) To help your child with cleaning up store your toys in clear bins (I love these from Target). For younger children take a picture of what goes in that bin and put it on the front so your child can easily identify where that toy goes. In addition to the picture label the bin so older children can also help clean up. Make cleaning up a regular part of your routine (daily, every other day, each night before bed, etc)
4) Don't feel badly about getting rid of toys or donating toys- we can all use a less cluttered, overwhelming play space, especially kids!