ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Taming the Toy Clutter

Updated on March 9, 2020
nlpolak profile image

As founder of The Barbie Girls Project, Natasha donates new and gently used Barbie dolls to girls in need in Central Indiana.


When Your Child's Toys Overrun Your Home

When my daughter was young, she loved to play with just about anything. Our house was evidence of this. Not a square inch of it was left alone! Books thrown on the bathroom counter. Stuffed animals under the bed. Action figures on my dresser! Then there were crayons on the stairs, a pair of shoes or two by the bookshelf, and a whole lot of play kitchen supplies scattered all around the living room. Some days, I wanted to give up!! It's almost as if a bomb went off in our house. Just looking at the mess made me cringe and not want to gear up the energy to straighten up. I think even my daughter refrained from cleaning up after seeing what a lot of work it would take to get things back to normal. Does that sound like your house, too?

Setting the Standard

It's not as if we didn't own storage bins, drawers, and bags. And it wasn't that my daughter was too young to tidy up after playing. It was something she learned at a young age when she was still in preschool! But within the home was another thing. It always seemed as if just as we got everything to rights, she'd start the cycle all over again by playing with something, leaving it somewhere else, and next thing you know, there'd be more to follow. So frustrating!

The only thing that seemed to work best was to set some limits. Consequences were useless, because she never phased by them. And to really teach responsibility, it took a different tact in parenting to make it happen. Here's what what we did:

  1. We cut down on the amount of toys allowed out at a time. Not only did we start allowing her to have only so many toys out at a time to play with, but we also pared down the types of toys she had overall so that there were fewer varieties from which to choose. Of the worst offenders were crayons, kid's meal toys, balls, and stuffed animals. Having less of them made it so much easier if digging through her toys to find something in particular, she was more likely to find it without creating a huge mess.
  2. Every type of toy had a general home. Using the bins and baskets we owned, we kept reinforcing her to put her toys away in each designated area - but we weren't picky about which toys went where. Who has time for all that??? It all worked out, because as she got older and needed something she couldn't find, it became her own initiative to start making things more neatly organized to her satisfaction so she could find what she wanted when she wanted it. Now that she's almost an adult, she enjoys the look of a decluttered room to unwind.
  3. Unwanted toys and clothes were resold or donated. When she got old enough to understand that there were places we could take her toys, books, and clothes she no longer wanted to keep, she was highly motivated to give up all kinds of things on a regular basis and make room in her room for playing and for storing newer ones. We tried to be fair and donate just as much as we resold things, and on occasion she even earned the money from the sale of her items. Every month or so, it's become a perpetual incentive to go through her stash so she can earn money in a pinch!
  4. We embraced each new stage of her life. Yes, there were times we wanted to jump from infancy to independent toddler, and from elementary schooler to teen, but we had to slow down and take a step back. Each phase of different quirks, toys, and playtime didn't last forever, and we had to learn to go at her pace, or risk tempers on both sides. Nothing lasts forever - not even the messy toys! - and next thing you know, all traces of childhood are gone, replaced with tween and teen and adult interests. All we had to do was just have the necessary tools handy at all times (i.e. storage and organizing containers), and be patient, and eventually she figured out exactly what she needed to, when she needed to do it.
  5. We exposed her to different environments. By this I mean we took her to toy stores, where everything was neatly arranged, went over to friends' houses so she could see how other people handled clean-up time etc., and believe it or not, we also looked through home decorating ideas and went to open houses and toured model homes in new residential communities. She loved seeing all kinds of new possibilities and gained inspiration for how she wanted to (re)decorate her room!

Have a System, But Don't Try to Be Perfect

When you have one or more children, and maybe even pets, it's not always easy to get to everything you want to do, much less need to do. There are days when the dishes and laundry pile up, you excuse the kids from taking a bath this one time since they're sleepy now and you don't want to risk them getting their second wind just when you finally are relaxed enough to fall asleep and just want some time to yourself.

Forget about removing every single speck of dust, or having your house resemble life before kids. Some days, the best you can hope for is that no one spills a glass of milk on the carpet! For peace of mind, lower your expectations to that which you can fit in 15 minutes of your day for tidying up. The kids aren't the only mess-makers - we adults are just as guilty! Keep a basket or bin in each room of your house where you can throw misplaced items from a room to automatically curb clutter. But you still have to empty the basket or bin each night by putting everything back where it was supposed to go in the first place. Fortunately, if you do this daily, this task too shouldn't take very long at all - maybe 5 minutes. And when that's done consistently, there is nothing you can't conquer. And who knows - it just might spur you to personally own less over time, not just your kids. Above all, know that if you make it a habit to put things away each day without stressing out when things aren't perfect, be patient, and the rest of your family will eventually model that behavior and help keep your house looking the way you always wanted it to look.

Storage Solutions

I never thought much about cleaning until I was a teenager, and even then it wasn't my favorite thing to do. Mostly, I cleaned when my mother lit a fire under me. As an adult, I wasn't thrilled about tidying either, but once I had my own family, things changed. I changed. I wanted to make an effort to keep the place clean as well as safe for the sake of my baby. As she grew into toddlerhood, however, it didn't cross my mind to have her help tidying up at all, since it wasn't something generally expected of me when I had been that age. But a funny thing happened when I went to pick her up from daycare one day. I got there right when the teachers were singing the "clean up" song, and with a flurry of activity from the kids, they all took various toys and put them away in their corresponding bins!

That's when I knew I just had to have a storage bin system at home so she could do the same thing without my always having to do it. And you know what? It worked!

Colorful Storage Bins

Humble Crew, Natural/Primary Kids' Toy Storage Organizer with 12 Plastic Bins
Humble Crew, Natural/Primary Kids' Toy Storage Organizer with 12 Plastic Bins
Having these colorful storage bins were just what my daughter needed for toys, play kitchen utensils, crayons, action figures, and craft supplies. She could walk around with a bin if she wanted to, while collecting everything out of place, before replacing it onto the shelf. And, because of the open nature of the bins, there was no need for labels or messing with covers. Overall, the storage system was durable, lasting for many years, and eventually we relegated it to my daughter's closet when we no longer wanted it in plain sight in the living room. Highly recommend!!!

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)