1,000 Toy Pieces Are Going to Drive Me Nuts!

Updated on January 05, 2007
A.L. asks from Minneapolis, MN
11 answers

My 2 1/2 year old received a LOT of great presents for Xmas....but, many of them have little parts: toy food, puzzles, building blocks, etc. She loves to dump everything out and make a huge mess!!! I'm looking for any strategies to allow her the freedom to play with her toys, yet not make our house a complete chaotic mess. I've already picked up 300 pieces of toy food about 10 times. She's slowly getting old enough to help clean up, but not on her own--and, it's usually a battle. Any ideas, strategies, storage systems, etc. you can offer?

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answers from Minneapolis on

I agree with the not having her have them all at once. My daughter got the same types of toys and she's 18 months .. my brother and sister think its funny for her to have the loudest, messiest toys -- little do they know it'll come to bite them in the butt in the future! Anyways between blocks, play food,dominos, puzzles and legos -- we knew we'd be going nuts! So we decided to buy a container for them to go into individually and we store them in our room and take them out when we want to sit down with her and play. Then we pick them up and put them away. She fusses a little when its time to put them away but she finds other toys she has to play with. It helps a TON! And we aren't picking up all day long!! I hope this helps!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

i also use the rubbermaid totes and i have taken digital pictures of the toys that belong in each tote. one picture on one of the sides and one picture on the lid. my twins can't read yet so this works well for them! it has been fun to have them help sort and match their toys when we clean up. good luck



answers from Madison on

My husband used to love legos as a child, and to solve this problem, my in-laws just kept all of his legos on an oldish bed sheet. When he wanted to play with the legos, he pulled the bed sheet out from under his bed, and when it was time to clean up, they just pushed the sheet back under his bed. I'm sure every once in a while you'd want to clean out dust, pet hair, crumbs, etc., but it worked well for them, and no one got upset about their construction projects getting ruined. It may not be the best for multiple types of toys or a 4 month old nearby, but it's a suggestion. Good luck!



answers from Duluth on

For starters, toys boxes are BAD!! The only thing I will use one for is for large, stuffed toys or balls. I used to keep toys in two 55 gallon drums with no organization and paid for it daily!

Now... I have an inhome daycare and five kids of my own. What we've done is everything is seperated. I have two tubs of toy food kept in rubbermaid tubs that fit inside the toy kitchen. I have two rolling carts with drawers, seperating Mr. Potatoheads (8), matchbox cars, little people, baby toys, tools, etc. With everyone being sick, I moved one of the rolling carts out so I would not have as much to disinfect daily. I also have white plastic baskets I keep them seperated into. For pre readers, taking a picture of what belongs in the box and taping it to the front helps them.

Also, I rotate toys. I will box some and put them in the basement for a month or so, then bring them back and take something else out. It feels new to them. I am also willing to just get rid of stuff that they cannot seem to keep together. We got rid of every polly pocket in the house and everyone has been informed that's not a gift option anymore. I found a polly shoe in a poopy diaper and the cats bat them all over the house. Stuffed toys either stay on the bed or go up in a net.

And teach your daughter to clean up with you.

Best of luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

I have two boys 1 1/2 & 3. I agree with everyone about the totes. Ours are seperated by blocks, vehicles, toy story stuff, trains & tracks, and balls. We also have a three drawer storage unit that has smaller stuff in the top, stackables in the middle and puzzle boards on the bottom. I printed clipart photos with text to label most of the drawers and bins - this really helps when we host a playdate and everyone can help clean up.
I recently bought a tall bookshelf to place toys on as well (we did attach it to the wall for safety). I was tired of picking up puzzle pieces all day from my little one but didn't want them out of site since I want my older one to play with them.
I also use zipper washing machine bags for sets of things I want to keep together but can still load them into our large toy box. I put play food in one, musical instruments in another. It works well as the older one can open them but the younger one hasn't even tried yet.
We try to go by the rule of picking up before getting something else out. But if I'm trying to cook or work from home, it doesn't always work. We always clean together before bed so that I'm not pickup up toys yet again after they are asleep.
Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

Hi Annique-

I had the same problem. Here is what I did:
Target has this great storage system that has about 12 bins (three shelves) I put pictures of what is in the bin on the front and Haley (my 3 year old puts the toys in the correct bin at clean up time). As for the food, Haley also has a kitchen set with dishes, food etc. I bought on of those childrens shopping carts and when it is time to clean up so puts all of the kitchen stuff in that cart, she likes pushing it around the room cleaning up.
We also made a fun clean up song when she was about 1 1/2, 2 years old that she still sings when she is cleaning up her toys.

Hope this helps.


SAHM- just turned 3 in December, Haley. And we are due in March with a little boy.



answers from Minneapolis on

I have a son who is also 2 1/2 - will be 3 in April. I have separate containers for his separate toys, trains and tracks all in one, little animals each have their own (he has 3 backpacks full of animals from Target, one has 136 animals in it). I also have a plastic storage drawer to keep his art supplies in. Anything with small parts can only be played with at the table, and he has to clean up what he is using before he can move onto the next. Everything is in his reach, but I am consistant about making him clean up when he is done. He does it all completely on his own, and has been for about 6 months now. When he wants to move on to the next thing, I tell him he has to clean up first, he used to cry, but I was firm and didn't let him get anything else until he cleaned up, and now he just knows that is the way it is, and does it without a fight. His play-doh and markers are all within his reach, but he knows he has to take it to the table, and clean up when he is done. His markers have never left the table, and he has never colored on the walls. He puts them all back in the box and back into his drawer when he is done. I just taught him that he can play with whatever he wants, without needing help, but he has to follow the rules and clean it back up after. I can handle crying as long as he is not hurt, so if he cries because he doesn't want to clean up, I just let him until he realizes that all he is doing is making it longer until he can move on to the next toy. I don't even have to go stop him from getting the next one out, I just tell him no, and if he is crabby, he will sit on the chair and cry... but he won't even try to get the next thing out, he knows it would just be taken away. It takes a little time, and consitency, but you can teach your daugther to clean do the same thing. I have 4 different drawers for his toys, the ones with small parts all have their own area, so they stay separate. The ones that came in little zip-up plastic backpacks or bags, I am keeping them in those to keep it together, and all the bigger toys go in a big 18 gallon bucket (which is now overflowing after christmas... we are going through toys and figuring out what to do with everything.) Before he had toys with small parts, I just put everything into one big container... but when the small parts started, I realized that wouldn't work anymore. Good luck! Hopefully your daughter will not drive you too crazy with all the toys! Only 1 more year until next Christmas... and even more toys.



answers from Minneapolis on

sounds familiar...

my son is 2.5 also...we are starting to make him help picking up his toys of one kind before he drags out the next kind...it is taking a while, but we are trying our best to remain consistant with not letting him play with the next toy until his other toys are picked up, this process is getting much easier...much much easier!!!!

There will be pouting and maybe some crying and tantrums, but once the concept is grasped you will be surprised at what your toddler can do to take some of the burden off of you.



answers from Minneapolis on

We have the same problem with our 4 kids. What I do is seperate everything into clear storage boxes and then they can play with one box at a time. I just tell them that if they can't pick it up then they can't play with it and if there are too many toys we can get rid of some. You would be surprised how neat and tidy my kids' toys are and they keep them that way. Another thing I used to do when my oldest was little was use a little kids' lawn set and use the rake to rake up the little toys and the shovel to scoop them into a bucket. Worked like a charm.
Happy New Year,



answers from Minneapolis on

Little toys and noisy toys I just couldn't deal with at two years old. So I would tell everyone donot buy her legos or anything that requires me to spend all day picking up. I took these toys away and didn't give them to my daughter til she was 4 and could pick them up on her own all by herself. I know exactly what your going through.

Right now my daughter is 5 she has rubbermaid totes and they stack nicely in her closet. Each tote is labeled. Her barbies are in ONE tote her Polly Pockets are in another tote. She knows that she can have one tote out at a time and that we don't mix and match toys. I also buy the large totes the ones you usually store winter/summer clothes in. Her kitchen set fits nicely in my dining area and she has a HUGE tub basket thing she can actually fit herself in that is where her kitchen toys and fake food stuff goes. No other toys are allowed downstairs unless she get's special permission otherwise they stay in her room so I can keep one part of the house clean at all times. If I get unexpected company I can atleast shut her bedroom door and hide her mess. I just got so sick of messes I said our downstairs is to stay clean and look presentable at all times. No toys in the family room.



answers from Minneapolis on

My best suggestion is not to let her have access to all of them at one time. My daughter who is three loves all her toys but when she has access to all of them at one time she does what yours does. So I put them in plastic storage containers with lids and but some up on her shelf in her closet and then rotate them every now and then. That way she can't dump them all and then she also doesnt get tired of them because she can not always get them. Also if she asks for certain ones that are up then I tell her she can't have them until she picks up the other ones that are down. She usually helps pick them up and at least she is learning to pick up even if I help her some.Hope it helps good luck

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