I've gotta be honest, I'm a busy, working mom and sorting out game pieces, puzzles, and organizing clutter get bumped to the bottom of my to do list. When I do break down and put everything back in it's place, it takes hours and hours. Then the kids come home and in 15 minutes it's worse than it was! It's like the Greek myth of Sisyphus who kept rolling the boulder up the hill, just to have it roll back down again.
So, we've compiled ChiIL Mama's Short List of Practical Tips to help out
1. Shop the Playroom Party: The best thing we ever did was invite our friends over to "shop the playroom" before the holiday season last year. I'm a stuff saver--always recycling, passing toys and clothes along to friends with younger kids, and there's this mountain marked ebay in the attic I never have time to even look at, let alone sell! I've been too busy to even get things rounded up to donate.
Finally I just gave up and told a group of friends with younger kids to come on over and have at it. They were thrilled and 4 families left with literal carloads of toys, clothes and books. I reserved the final say in case it was still a favorite or a sentimental keeper. Everyone had a blast and loads of our outgrown toys were recycled under the Christmas tree to new kids, making it easier for our kids to have space to play.
2. Helpful Works: Sometimes when kids (especially the young ones) "help clean up", things get messier. Still, it's good for them. We instituted "helpful works" rather than chores or jobs. These are age appropriate amounts of work and at 8 & 10 our kids are responsible for cleaning their room, clearing clutter, helping to put away their own laundry and loading the dishwasher. The kids earn books, little collectibles, or cash at the end of each week.
3. Shelves: Shelves help. It's hard to clean up when there's no place to put things.
4. Bins Are In: They hold a lot, can be sealed, and they can be rotated so old favs are rediscovered. We have a couple wooden racks full of colored bins that tip for easy access to sorted art supplies and little pieces.
5. Pop Ups Rock: All our dress up clothes and bigger stuffed animals fit in pop up, mesh hampers. They fold down when not in use and hold up to rugged play. The kids love to get in them for imagination play.
6. Hammocks Help: Get toy nets and hooks and hang your favorite stuffed animals and dolls on the walls. They're decorative, colorful and best of all...off the floor!
7. Don't Don't Don't Let It Start: Think small and regift often. Once your kids are past the small parts prohibition days, get them interested in collecting little things or cards. Thousands of Pokemon cards or silly bands or glass miniatures will fit in the space of one giant stuffed animal.
8. The Bigger They Grow: Overwhelmed yet? There is good news. The bigger the kids, the smaller the toys. By the time they're teens, they'll be happily entertained by easily stackable video games and a cell phone! We were so jazzed to give away the giant play kitchen and assorted food and all the Fisher Price little people that had taken over our attic playroom. They had a whole unstackable encampment including their own airport, carnival, zoo, school, farm, gas station..... They were well loved, fun toys in those early days. But it was time for them to find a new location for their city.
9. Great To Donate: We've found a local soup kitchen that takes kids' toys and clothes. Our kids not only donated their outgrown goodies, but volunteer there, too. It's great for our kids to see other little ones in need come in and get excited over the new-to-them toys.
10. Space-The Final Frontier: Ever get the dreaded Lego foot--that painful malady that strikes when tender barefoot arches meet nubby plastic and sharp corners?! Not fun. I stepped on a wind up Thomas Train back in the day so hard the knob punctured my foot in the middle of perfect train shaped bruise I had for weeks! I've become entangled in tracks, too, train....car...and marble machine. So, I was pretty jazzed to hear about Wall Tracks. In all honestly we haven't tried them out yet, but the concept is great, and a huge boon to city dwelling families like us, where floor space is at a premium.
Kids can now take their Hot Wheels® races where they've never gone before - off the floor and onto the walls! Now they can perform stunts, speed, turns, and tricks, powered by gravity and set up any way you can imagine it - and it’s off the floor! Kids can mix, match, and combine with other Wall Tracks™ sets to create all-new Hot Wheels® track layouts. And the best part? No more clutter for us moms!
About Hot Wheels®
Since 1968, Hot Wheels® has been passionate about creating thrilling vehicle experiences through innovative product and content. With a fan base of more than 41 million people, Hot Wheels® is the No. 1 vehicle property in the United States producing the coolest cars imaginable. The Hot Wheels® brand began as a line of 16 1:64-scale die-cast vehicles; today, it has evolved into a true, global lifestyle brand for boys of all ages with segments that range from aftermarket parts to licensed apparel to branded digital content from Team Hot Wheels™, a real-life race crew of professional drivers performing over-the-top stunts.
More on Hot Wheels® Wall Tracks™ sets: http://www.hotwheels.com/walltracks
More info on Hot Wheels®: http://www.hotwheels.com
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hot Wheels® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”