Organizing Our Twin Toddlers' Toys

07 November 2012

Clothes, paper and toys! The 3 banes of any home with young twins.
I’ve already sorta developed systems for taking care of excess clothes and organizing paperwork. The toys were the last (very daunting) frontier to be conquered. Our last month’s home move was my opportunity to finally organize the twin’s toys.
Here’s my 10 step program on toy organization for toddler twins
1.       STOP BUYING: At least temporarily. I had developed the habit of regularly coming home with some new toy that was guaranteed to make the girls smarter, stronger, happier etc. I had to tell myself that I am in no way compromising their future SAT scores if I occasionally visit Walmart without checking out the toy aisles
2.       TOY POLICY AND VISION: Once I stopped buying and gave myself a breather, it was time to define my toy policy. This will be my guideline for all future toy acquisitions and definitely is not a one-size fits all. For us, the toy vision I have is avoid battery-operated toys with all the obnoxious lights and sounds when possible. I want toys that encourage the girls to do more than just push a button.
3.       The second part of our toy policy is LESS IS MORE. I’ve read on a few blogs and also seen this play out with the girls – the fewer toy options they have, the better the quality of their play. They are able to focus on one activity and enjoy it for stretches of time. When I have a lot of toys laid out, they flit from one toy to the next and are crankier too
4.       DEFINE PLAY AREA: This is a function of the family’s day to day lifestyle. Where do you want the kids to spend most of their play time? A separate playroom, the family room or their bedroom? What currently works for us is 2 play areas. The first is a corner of the living room close to the kitchen so that I can keep an eye on the girls while I do kitchen-y stuff. The main play area is on the second level. We converted our fourth bedroom into a sort of playroom with a TV. This is where we spend majority of our evenings and weekends
5.       DESTASH: Once there’s a policy and vision on hand, it’s time to organise the toys currently owned.  We pruned the toys to the necessary quantity and quality viz
   a.       TRASH the toys that are irreparably broken   
   b.      STORE for future citizens of twintopia, the toys that the girls really enjoyed playing with but have outgrown
   c.       DISOWN the toys that are age appropriate but either the girls do not like or I don’t like. This is where a lot of the big lights-sounds-and battery stores went. Other toys in this pile include the Weebles which are deadly to walls and hardwood when my girls hurl them. These toys can be sold, donated or gifted but they have to go
   d.      SHELF the toys that the girls do not seem to have grown into. The Megabloks fall into this category. We’ve owned them for almost a year now and the girls have shown little interest in them. They are on a top shelf hidden away for now and I will bring them out again in a couple of months. If the girls still show no interest, they will be moved to the DISOWN pile and I’ll call it a day.

6.       ARRANGE the toys in the respective play areas. The living room toys are all toys that won’t prove to be a nuisance should we be entertaining guests while the girls are playing in the corner. Play kitchen, cleaning set, drum, xylophone and bead maze are the living room toys. All the other toys are upstairs in the family play room.
This is a work in progress but at least now that there’s a plan in place I can lift the buying ban in step 1 and start “intentional” toy acquisition.

For those interested, the list of items that I use in organizing the toys (affiliate links) includes
Extra Thick 36 Piece Foam Mat
Toy organizers in the play room for the little toys
Children's Bookshelf in the girls' bedroom
Disclosure: The living room corner looks all pretty like that because I just set it up. That tidiness is so 30 days ago :).

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