The kids (toys) are all right…
Before we start, I have a few questions: Do you have a designated area in your home for toys, or does your flat exist just to house them? Look around. Do you notice that toys have crept into every crevice in your apartment? If the answer is yes, don’t fret. I am here to reassure you that you can proudly invite adults into your home and have room for toys. These two concepts are not mutually exclusive. You can have healthy boundaries to make everyone happy but it’s time to make some decisions.
Decide On A Space
I realise that most Hong Kong homes have super limited space, and having a dedicated playroom is a luxury that most do not have. But the ideas and concepts that follow work in any space. It’s all about proportion. So, do you have a designated playroom or a designated play area? You can be a good parent and corral your kids’ toys into just that – one area. In a perfect world this area would be in the child’s bedroom, but as space in Hong Kong is sometimes nonexistent, that’s not always an option. Maybe a wardrobe. Maybe a portion of your family room. Note I used the word portion. The first thing you must do is make sure the toys, books, art supplies, dress up and whatever else you have is proportionate to the space you are allotting.
Decide Which Toys Can Stay
There are a few questions to you need to ask yourself to determine if the toys you have will stay in your home. Here’s a checklist to get you started in the right direction:
Are the toys age appropriate?
As much as you want them to stay young forever, your kids grow up and need space for their new toys and books. Sort out toys that are no longer age appropriate and find them a new home. Donate to the school or local children’s hospital or give them to a friend with children who can enjoy them.
Broken or missing parts?
Are the toys still functioning and still have all their parts? If not time for them to go – anywhere but your house.
Are the kid’s still into them?
Do your kid’s still like their toys? Watch what they pick at playtime and if they haven’t played with a toy for six months, it’s time to donate.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found duplicate games and toys in people’s homes. Sometimes parents don’t realise when shopping that their kids already have the same toy. In addition, gifts from birthdays and holidays make their way into the toy pool even if they are duplicates. Getting the toys organised brings an end to the same toy over and over again. If you get duplicate gifts, return or re-gift. (Make sure you remove any cards that might lurk inside. Nothing is worse than getting caught re-gifting!)
Is it annoying?
Mums worldwide definitely agree on this one: talking or beeping toy that make you jump when they randomly go off must be the worst toy there is. If there’s no volume control, I suggest not even bringing these annoying toys into the house in the first place! It might seem cute at first, but I promise you, it will make you insane in the end. Give it to someone you don’t like very much.
So now you have all the toys, games, books and art supplies that you and the kids want in the house. As we’ve learned in my previous articles, organising starts with sorting by category, then creating a home for each category and sending the items to their new homes. Here are likely categories and good ways to contain them:
Action Figures and Barbies
A creative and space saving idea for Barbies and action figures is over the door shoe pouches. Each action figure will have their own pouch. You will want to secure the shoe pouches to the wall on all four corners to avoid them moving.
Large Toys & Books
Cubbies storage is a good solution. Ikea Kallax offers good storage space and design options.
Read more: Brilliant IKEA Hacks For Kids Rooms
Stuffed Animals & Dolls
Whenever possible use stuffed animals as décor. The rest should live in a large basket that closes. Another option is a three-tiered cart. Check them regularly because when they start to fall apart their days are up.
If space is an issue, board games can be a problem. Here’s a solution. Take one extra-large zip-lock bag per game for game pieces, boards and instructions. Use sharpie or label maker and label each game. This way all the games can be stored together in a few boot boxes or one larger storage bin.
I like art carts where art supplies are easily moved from area to area for easy art projects. Likewise, they can easily be wheeled into a closet or the other room when art time is over. Back-up art supplies can be housed in boot boxes and stored under the bed, in wardrobes or in cabinets.
A small clothing rack on wheels with kid sized hangers is a good option because, like the art carts, they can easily be wheeled into another room. Hampers and treasure chests are good options for wigs, hats and accessories. Dress up jewellery can be organised on a key or belt rack that can be secured to a wall in your play area.
Legos & Building Toys
Legos are an issue in every house I visit. Depending on how your kids play with Legos will determine how you want to store them. If your kids build Lego projects, it’s best to have a shoe box for each project where all the Legos and instructions live. Label each so they are easy to find. If your kids are more creative builders, Legos can be stored together in boot boxes, but I would try to sort them by size and kind to make finding pieces easier. Make sure you label the boxes because we all know this won’t be the only time you will be sorting Legos.
Those hacks should keep you busy for a while. Like everything else in the organising world, your play area will continue to change as your kids grow, and just like a garden, you will need to tame it from time to time or it will get out of control.