Let’s just say I have tripped over toys so many times to deem the actual number inconsequential. The point is, when the solution dawned on me, I was more than ready. And what a revelation: Simply rotate the toys!
Space was irrelevant, as I had room for all our toys. I was unwilling, however, to spend at least an hour each day picking up or supervising clean-up time. So, perhaps a year ago I filled weather-safe storage bins in our carport with toys to rotate for the next season. Everything left in the house must fit in the designated area. We have a 1’x2’x1’ chest for toys, and stuffed animals go in the doll crib. If it doesn’t fit in either spot… you guessed it, out to storage it goes.
Some items have been donated, some have been tossed, but in very conservative amounts. Keeping toys in rotation has helped me understand which ones are truly valuable to the children (or sentimental to me.) As much as I like to keep things downsized, I believe this is one area where it is important to allow the children to feel safe in their ownership. I say, “Don’t worry, we can go to the garage and get those toys at any time, as long as we trade it for something else.” The children understand, and they are fine with the temporary separation.
The rotation method works things like clothes; beauty care items (when you can’t fit the hot rollers, irons, and all the scented lotions in the bathroom cabinet); and home décor.
What a freedom! Clean-up only takes about 20 minutes now! And it is now a much more realistic expectation for teaching little ones how to pick up after themselves. I am so pleased with this method, and will never go back… Now that I have beautiful towers of boxes in storage labeled, “Toys in Rotation.”