When my husband and I moved out on our own, I was forced to address my childhood toy box that had been tucked away in my parent’s basement for years. It hadn’t been so much as looked at for close to fifteen years. When I opened that toy box, my heart stopped. It was literally nothing but garbage!
Miscellaneous Barbie accessories, a random microphone, a jump rope with a broken handle, some really old McDonald’s happy meal toys, and a handful of Legos were just a few of the toys that were thrown directly into a trash bag. That day, I vowed that my children would never have a toy box.
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I have small, manageable baskets throughout the house. 90% of our toys fit into these baskets. Currently, I have one in the living room, one in the family room, and one in Little Ro’s room. Each one is tucked away in the corner of the room but can be accessed easily when the girls are ready to play. The largest basket is no larger than a four gallon trash can but still holds enough toys to keep the kids entertained. They are both attractive and functional which is a win in my book.
2. Limited toys
This is sometimes difficult for us because we have so many friends and family who are dying to share some adorable toys with our girls. Obviously we appreciate their generosity but we do have to ask everyone to refrain from buying too many toys. Our home is a far cry from a mansion that it would take to house all of the toys and we really want to encourage proper development with our girls. Mindy at Purposefully Simple does a fantastic job at outlining the developmental importance of having fewer toys in 9 Reasons Your Kids Want Fewer Toys.
3. Rotating toys
Of the toys that we do have, they all get rotated as they get used. See the toys we are currently using in The Best Gifts for a One Year Old. I don’t exactly have system for this because frankly, they get rotated through the chaos without the need for a system. How? Well, as I’m walking out of the house, I’ll grab the closest toy and shove it in the diaper bag. When I get home and clean out the diaper bag, the toy ends up in a different basket than it was taken from. Similarly, when we go from the downstairs to the upstairs, we bring a toy with us and it stays there for a week or so until it’s grabbed to go downstairs. It works well enough for us and it keeps everyone from getting bored.
4. Encourage play with household items
We do our best to encourage our girls to play with household items like pots and pans, laundry baskets, and blankets and pillows. They have so much fun creating their own little games amongst themselves with some of the strangest items. One of their favorites is “racecar” in the laundry basket. Little Ro loves to find her own “toys” throughout the house. Some of her favorites include: an empty diaper box, a children’s hanger, our old television remote, and a small piece of Tupperware.
I seriously love not having a toy box in the house. Neither one of my girls have ever had the opportunity to take every toy that we own and put it on the floor to then crawl in the empty toy box. Did I do this as a child? Yes. Will my girls miss out on those one or two happy memories? Yes. Will parenting be a little easier without that little headache? Abso-freaking-lutely!