As the main organizer of our home, one of the things I like to do between Christmas and New Year’s is to get things organized and tidied so that we start the new year with a clean household slate, so to speak. Everything has a spot to be in, and therefore we can easily clean up as well as find the things we need. With new things coming in for Christmas, this can be a bigger challenge than it might be at other times of the year, but to me, that’s why it’s even more important. In fact, I’d say that the biggest part of the job is finding room for all the new toys. However, now that I’ve been a mom for four holiday seasons, I’ve come up with a pretty good system for getting it done. Here are my five steps.
1. Sort out toys that are no longer played with or are not in the appropriate age range. Ideally, I like to do this before Christmas so that I can have everything bagged and boxed for donation, and thus out of the way on Christmas morning. Inevitably, though, there are some things that I don’t realize need to go until after Christmas, or that magically appear when I am cleaning a different room. This used to drive me crazy, but now I just plan on that being the case. My main goal is to get rid of as many toys, by volume, as arrive in our home over the holidays.
2. Make sure all toys are put away in their proper place. This allows me to see what we have and what might be stored in a different way, or if two things might be stored together, or if there are any random toys that can go in the donate pile. I do not include the new toys when I do this; part of what I’m looking for is if there’s a place that they will already fit, or if I can make space somewhere that I hadn’t considered.
3. Find a “home” for each new toy. Many of the new things will fit into an existing toy category, and will just find a home with similar toys. For example, new stuffed animals can go right to the stuffed animal bin. Vehicle toys can go into the vehicle bin. Accessories for the dollhouse can go on the shelf with the dollhouse.
4. Purchase bins as necessary to create “homes” for toys that don’t fit in existing categories. This year, Elvie got a ton of new necklaces, as well as some toddler specific building blocks. We didn’t have spots for either of those, so I got two new bins to house those. Our doll clothes collection also grew, so I purchased a larger bin for those.
5. Rearrange the storage space as necessary so that everything fits. If we’ve gotten rid of as many toys as we’re taking in, then I know everything will fit, but it just might take a few tries to get the new configuration right. If I need to sort out a few more things that aren’t often played with or that don’t fit into one of the bigger categories, and thus won’t be missed, then I do it.
And then I’m done! It might not be magazine perfect, but we’ll start the year out knowing where everything is and being able to find and enjoy all the new toys.