Psychologists say that if we want our little ones to enjoy meaningful, imaginative and educational play, we should provide them with fewer toys.
So, the last thing we need in your toddler’s bedroom, family room or playroom is a messy toy box, overflowing with scores of toys that limit their imagination or they are simply not interested in anymore.
One of the most simple things we can do to work towards providing our little bundles of joy with the ultimate play and learning experience is to really take the time to organise their toy box appropriately And it doesn’t have to be expensive at all!
It is widely accepted that too many toys can affect the way children develop their playing experience.
Studies have shown that, far from being mean, limiting children to engage with just one toy at a time encourages them to use their imagination in a more constructive, ingenious and developmentally-positive way.
Ask any decent nursery school teacher and they will tell you that they rotate and limit toys for that very reason.
So here is the ‘Toddler Review’ definitive guide to transforming a messy toybox into a fantastic new learning tool for your little ones.
How to organise a messy toy box
- Be prepared by earmarking a time and opportunity in your schedule to create this transformation when your children are not around. (You could even do it quietly when they are tucked up in bed).
- Be further prepared by collecting, finding or buying about four to five good, strong storage boxes in which you can stockpile the majority of your child’s toys, depending upon how many toys there are. (It is best not to use transparent containers if your child is going to be able to see where you have stored them. Even simple, opaque, cardboard boxes will do!).
- You’ve probably been looking forward to this next bit for ages – empty your chosen toybox completely and give it a very thorough clean.
- You probably haven’t been looking forwards to this bit very much – collect ALL of your child’s toys from around the house including the broken, filthy or once lost ones and give them a good clean or throw them away. Similarly, put aside any toys that your child has grown out of and, if they are no longer any use to you or your family and friends, consider donating them to charity.
- Group the toys you are going to keep into categories, such as role play; characters from TV shows; sport; puppetry; cars and vehicles; dolls; music; summer outdoor play; for example.
- Choose just one category of toy for the toybox and limit the number to just a few.
- Store the rest of your child’s toys in boxes that are preferably labelled, somewhere away from little eyes and certainly not visible in your child’s bedroom.
- Rotate the contents of your child’s toybox regularly, returning the most recently used to storage, regularly but give it no less than a week.
Once your child has got over the shock of finding fewer toys in their toybox/shelves or whatever you use for storage for their accessibility, they will quite happily play with fewer items.
Most children will be unburdened by no longer having too much choice.
They will have the opportunity to use their imagination freely and explore their own ideas instead of having them imposed upon them.
And, although it might seem like hard work at first, practising toy rotation will help you feel more in control of your household toy collection. It will also give you the opportunity to keep toys from collecting too much dirt, making them easier to clean and therefore, take up less of your time.
Parents who practise toy rotation also report that, if they rotate on a particular day of the week, their children become accustomed to looking forwards to discovering which toys will appear in their beautifully clean and organised toyboxes when they wake in the morning!