Actually, these toddler toy hacks are for moms AND dads! (And whoever else is helping with clean up, honestly!)
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I am deep in the thick of life with two toddlers (an almost 3 year old and a 19 month old). Every day, I learn something new. And every day, I try to come up with hacks (not limited to toddler toy hacks) for how to make things EASIER. (Because let’s face it, this is haaaaaaaaard!) I’m not sure why it’s taken me this long to come up with some of these ideas? (Exhaustion and Mommy Brain, perhaps?)
Without further ado, I give you my…
Genius Toddler Toy Hacks for Moms
1. Limit the quantity of toys set out at one time.
Guys. This one is a game changer. And honestly, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of this until now?
I always get so excited when we receive (or I buy, hee hee) a new toy. Until very recently, I would set out ALL THE TOYS at one time. This quickly became a problem because 1) we honestly didn’t have the space in our living room/playroom and 2) it was so overwhelming!! For everyone involved–Hubs, myself, and the kiddos.
So now, instead of 2,583 toys piled in one room…we have maybe 10-15.
2. Do a toy rotation.
I’ve observed that when too many toys are made available at once, my kids tend to get overwhelmed and play with one or two things. When toys “disappear” and reappear a few weeks later, they become new and exciting again.
To keep my toy rotation simple, I dump a variety of toys into a huge plastic bin and rotate bins every so often. Easy peasy! (Or you can do the smaller bins for smaller items.)
These are my favorite bins because they are clear (I made the mistake once of buying solid black ones because they were cheaper. Uh…you can’t see anything then?!!), are sturdy, and are big enough to hold larger toys.
3. Don’t set out ALL THE PIECES.
This kind of goes hand in hand with Hack #1. I had a tendency to set out ALL THE BLOCKS. ALL THE CUBES. ALL THE LETTERS.
It’s funny but it seems like literally EVERY toy in my house is made up of 1,000 pieces. (And I would set all 1,000 of them out at once!)
For example, these are some of our most beloved toys:
Do you see where I’m going with this?!!
Of course I would involve the girls in helping with clean up but seriously…the amount of clean up was just too much.
For now, with my girls being the ages they are, there really isn’t a need to set out 100 wooden blocks. They are perfectly content with 20!
4. Only do one puzzle at a time.
Oh how we love puzzles! Nugget is into the 24 piece puzzles and OH. MY. WORD. I’m not sure why but they are so hard to keep track of! For now, we’ve been putting the pieces back into a Ziplock bag and calling it a day. HOWEVER…this is the puzzle book we have and love:
I love this because it comes with FOUR different 24 piece puzzles. The downside:
- You can only do one puzzle at a time
- The pieces don’t necessarily stay in place once you flip the page to go to another puzzle (hence the Ziplock bags)
- Kids, being kids, love to take out ALL THE PIECES from ALL THE PUZZLES…all at once.
Again, I had a “Why didn’t I think of this earlier?!” moment. I can’t claim credit for thinking of this idea. I learned it from a veteran preschool teacher.
5. Label and number your puzzle pieces.
Label your puzzles (in my case, I did A through D) and then number the pieces (1-24). Makes for an easier clean up and you can do a quick inventory to make sure you have all the pieces!
6. Find a home for every toy.
This piece of advice might seem like a “Well, DUH” comment but…in all honesty, I never was able to do this at our old house. We simply had too many toys for a small space. Now that we have moved, I am still in the process of unpacking (and finding said homes for) all of the toys.
Hubs likes to throw packaging away, but I am a big fan of keeping bags, boxes, and containers to store toys in. Bonus if it’s the original packaging! For example:
As far as storing these toys, we have/I like the following:
This is nice because it’s roomy, you just dump all the toys in, and if you don’t want to see any of it, just close the lid!
This is great if you want to keep your toys sorted by category or if you have toys with lots of pieces that you don’t want just thrown together.
For everything else, this is my absolute favorite:
A fellow teacher would tease me for my obsessive love of Ziplock bags. But seriously. They are amazing. And they’re great for everything! (I prefer the ones without the plastic zipper thing because little hands have a tendency to rip those off!)
This next and last piece of advice is perhaps the hardest one of all for me.
7. Purge as you go. (But be stealth about it!)
If your children are anything like mine, they: a) know which toys belong to which child and b) will suddenly develop a huge interest in a toy if they see it “leaving”–even if they haven’t looked at or played with it in months! LOL
When Nugget was diagnosed with her dust mite allergy, I knew I had to cut down on the number of stuffed animals in our house. It seems like everyone in our lives had given us at least two or three. The sentimental hoarder in me wanted to keep each and every stuffy but the practical mom won. Bye bye went a huge bag filled with stuffies.
I hope you found some helpful toddler toy hacks for keeping the clutter under control! It’s certainly a work in progress. Like this post? Please share! Looking for shopping recs? Check out my Best Toys for Toddlers on a Plane and Best Birthday Gifts for 2 Under 2.