5 Rules to Live By in Managing Your Child's Books and Toys by Mariel Uyquiengco

I've been dealing with decluttering for the past few months now and this article is just useful! You might want to check it out too...

By Mariel Uyquiengco

Clutter can easily overcome the best homemaker in us and overtake our living spaces. Books and toys, while lovely in bookshops and toy stores can be a source of distraction for everyone in the family. It is definitely ironic that a source of our children’s happiness can also be the biggest cause of frustration for their parents.

Too much toys, regardless of what marketers tell us, can actually be unhealthy and detrimental to a child’s development. In the book Simplicity Parenting, author Kim John Payne, says that just keeping a few toys for kids can actually foster cooperation among siblings and add more depth to their playing. Having less toys means more time to reach out to other people and to imagine and to create.

How, then, can we manage the constant influx of books, toys, and what-nots in our home? Here are 5 rules to live by in managing your child’s books and toys – also called “the mess.”

1. Kids don’t need a lot of toys

Be assured that your little girl does not need to have all the Barbie variations out there or that the complete Thomas the Tank Engine set will make your son happy forever. When kids just have a few toys that they can actually see, they are more engaged and more “into it” as they play.

Too many toys can actually make kids anxious, says Payne.A cluttered environment is truly not conducive for thinking things through. The usual result would be children quickly going through one toy after another, never settling into one for a long period of time.

2. Everything does not need to be displayed

We want our children to be able to access everything that they need, so we proudly display all those books and toys. But, as mentioned above, too much toys in an area can actually just distract your child.

Keep in mind that if you think there are toys that your child will benefit from for a long time, you can always rotate them. Keep the displayed toys at a minimum and box the rest away. You can rotate toys every quarter to freshen your child’s play selection.

3. Kids should know where things belong

Kids should know where each of their toys belongs in order to be able to clean up after playing. Label boxes and shelves with words or pictures, and teach your child how to return things in their proper places.

Leaving things unlabeled is an invitation to create a mess. Kids will just tend to put things in any space that they can find, or worse, will just leave the toys where they are.

4. Constant purging is a must

Most of us cannot control what grandparents, aunts, and uncles will give our children. Children look forward to birthdays and Christmases, but parents actually dread all those beautifully wrapped things.

We need to be constantly purging closets and shelves and really stick to a schedule for deep cleaning. Spring-cleaning is not just for spring! So, let go of those toys that you like but your kids haven’t touched for months, even if those have been prominently displayed since forever.

5. Giving away stuff is like hitting two birds with one stone

When purging books and toys, it is a good option to give away stuff and at the same time involve your kids. Choose an orphanage, a library, or a family with small kids to donate to and set an appointment with them. Involving your kids will set a good example to them about letting go and giving to those in need.

Working towards having a clean and clear play space for our children will benefit the whole family. Just keep in mind the simple rules above to be able to successfully manage your ever-growing plethora of kids’ stuff.

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