The project of the week has been toy reorganization. Every once in awhile I need to make sure that the toys we keep on the main floor of our house are the most age-appropriate, fun, workable toys we have in the house. All other toys are relegated to the basement (usually temporarily.) In the photo above, our daily happiness was being sabotaged by the following: big-girl books (as opposed to board books) in danger of being ripped by Elizabeth; three baby toys that were rarely used properly, and whose pieces frequently went missing; and a box of dolls & furniture for our dollhouse, a toy so beloved by both girls that they usually began fighting over it 4-5 minutes after we pulled it out.
I thought somebody out there might find it helpful to get a behind-the-scenes look at how I reorganized. Here are some key points:
- Before moving anything, I took a rough inventory of all the toys – the ones we were using, and the ones we weren’t. Combining my list-loving nature with my pregnancy inertia, I was probably about 90% thorough with my inventory, because I did not want to walk to the basement to see what we had down there! In any case, next to each toy currently being used, I wrote down what was or wasn’t working about it, and for the unused toys, I made a note if I thought it was time to bring it back into the rotation. That way, I had a rough idea of what I was doing before I made a big mess moving toys around.
- I had to let go of emotions. The dollhouse, in particular, was a tough decision for me. I bought it at a yard sale last summer and have consistently been amazed by (1) how long Maggie can spend playing with it, and (b) how awesome her imagination is when she’s doing it! When Elizabeth started getting interested in it too, I was thrilled, until they started fighting about it all the time. I bit the bullet, and the dollhouse now lives in the basement. Maggie can still play with it there, although I’ll miss hearing her narrate the dolls’ actions.
- I had to think about spaces in addition to toys. Part of the project turned out to be straightening up the basement to be a better play area for Maggie. The dollhouse is there now, and so are a number of games & puzzles that I didn’t want Elizabeth to play with, chew on, and lose pieces of. Maggie has spent quite a bit of time playing down there the past couple days, and it has cut down on the fighting a lot. It might just be the novelty of the new setup, but it may also be that she literally, physically, needed some space.
- I took my own sanity into account. Several toys not pictured above had already been relegated to the basement cabinets over the past few weeks. Walking my unbalanced pregnant body across our frequently toy-strewn floor had made me increasingly unwilling to tolerate toys with many rolling pieces, so our peg-and-pegboard set got put away. And mindful of the fact that I will have a newborn in the house before Christmas, I also banished several toys with noisy buttons that would wake up the baby. All of these items were hit toys, enjoyed by both my girls and their friends, but there comes a time when they are not worth it.
- It’s a work in progress. The one big downside to the project was that we really don’t have a good place on our main floor to store Maggie’s books. They’re in the basement now too. My plan/idea is that when a good time comes up for reading together, I’ll send her downstairs to pick out a few books and bring them up; and we can keep a few out of the baby’s reach on the top of the bookcase. We’ll have to see how that works. And meanwhile, we also have the thorny issue of the play kitchen, which has a similar usage profile to the dollhouse: much-beloved, much-fought-over. For the moment we’ve decided to keep it, but I’m not sure how long it will last.
I wrote my inventory on Sunday and moved all the toys Monday, and I’m pretty happy with the results, for now anyway. Maggie has a birthday coming up, and Christmas isn’t far away, so soon enough we’ll have more toys to figure into the system. Should be easy enough … as long as they don’t have any noisy buttons 😉