My dad likes to remind us that when he grew up all he had to play with were rocks and sticks...I think there is a lot of wisdom in that. I do not like having toys everywhere. I bet there are very few adults who do. Having 4 young children in the home makes it really hard not to have toys in every room of the house. They'll play in one room for awhile and then need to bring all their toys on an airplane, or to grandma's or to church or wherever their little brains imagine and so of course they need to physically move them all to a new room. And they like to follow me around the house with their toys. Most of the time, I'm busy doing things and don't really notice the damage that is being done until it's too late: you know, it's 5pm, Scott will be home shortly, I'm cooking something, I leave my cooking dinner to go find the kids and have them help set the table and then I see it. Toys in the living room and the bedrooms and the hallways and the library and the family room and the laundry room and the bathroom! What?! How did this happen so fast?!
A couple of weeks ago I had an idea. I implemented the idea and so far things have gone pretty well. Here's the idea: 1.) dejunk. We do this fairly regularly, so this part wasn't new. I go through toys everywhere and throw broken ones away and put others that are rarely used(or ones I don't particularly like because they're too small or are random, like the ones from McDonalds) in a bag for charity. During the dejunk process we make sure everything is put away in it's proper container or bag. 2.) This is the new piece. After toys are organized in their proper bags/tupperware containers I put them away in a place that is hard to reach, therefore requiring an adult to help or at least a noisy chair being dragged across the tile floor which means I should hear it and be able to intervene before the child can empty the contents of the bag.
After about a week of doing this Scott said he's noticed a good difference. And I have too. Now just so you know, they do have some things that are down low that they can have whenever. There is a toy chest in the living room that has mostly toys for babies. Charlie has a toy chest in his room that has some boy toys (dragons, action figure heros etc), The girls have a dress-up box in their room and books are always available in just about every room in the house. But my rule is if they want the other stuff, they've got to put their toys away first and then I'll pull one or two things down at a time. If they want something else, they need to put the items away first. This way we're not mixing everything and then having to reorganize so often. And it doesn't appear so overwhelming to them(or me) when it's time to clean up. Also, I find that the kids want to play with them more when the toys are organized(and we have all the pieces) and looking all nice and neat and I think the fact that they don't have them out all the time makes them seem more desirable. Annabelle loves that all her barbies and princesses and the shoes, clothes and tiaras are all in one back pack. We also have a bag for cars, another for dishes/food items, house, tinker toys, linkin logs, potato heads and more. Here is a picture of some of the toys I keep upstairs in our coat closet. I also keep some up high in another closet downstairs.