DROWNING In Toys and Aggravation....

Updated on January 09, 2012
3.B. asks from Tampa, FL
26 answers

Before Christmas my husband and I went through the play room, and PURGED knowing what was coming. Well here it is a few weeks later and I want to do it again! The biggest problem is my middle boy who is 3.5, leaves a trail of play where ever he goes. i'm losing it! He plays with trucks (small ones) and action figures mainly. And has SOOOOO many. I finally banned all toys to the playroom because it was gettting ridiculous. i found trucks and little men everywhere! On the kitchen and dining table, under them, on the couches behind the couches, on the t.v. stand, on the stairs in the bathroom, in our shoes....well you get the idea.

But toys are still finding their way upstairs, and the playroom is always TRASHED. Which i guess shouldn't be a big deal, but at the end of the day no one seems to clean up. I have taken toys from him, for days and told him because he didn't pick them up. Well frankly he has so many toys, he doesn't notice! I am so aggravated I don't know what to do. I try to organize, very simply to a 3 year old's ability and show him....trucks, motorcycles, cars go here. All your men go here, big toys and everything else in the big toybox.... doesn't matter. I have already donated toys they have gotten, un-opened because 1 they won't play with them. 2 It's just more of a mess to pick up and 3 because I know there are kids who could really ENJOY some nice toys lol

WHAT do I do? Do I get crazy and remove 90% of the stuff in our toy room? I've tried telling both families, PLEASE don't get them alot of toys. They have too many. Give me $10-20, I will put in their bank accounts! The older one get something out of gifts (he's12) but the other two are 3.5 and 1......They're clueless! I feel terrible giving away new toys, but it's senseless to me to let stuff sit around in boxes, or crammed in a toy box never played with!

How do you control the toy over load in your house???

What can I do next?

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answers from Charlotte on

Give him a basket with handles. Tell him to find all his toys that are around the house and collect them in the basket. Tell him that any toy he doesn't find will belong to the time-out box that gets put away for a long time (make it a month.)

I hope this helps!


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

we too have a play room best and worst idea ever lol.i finally got sick of it andd took everything but the polly pockets out b/c thats the flavor of the month now in saying that i kept all the toys, crazy i know however their was a method to my madness....i didnt just take the toys and put them in big bags and throw them in the basement, i got rubbermaid totes and separated he toys, dress up, dolls, cars, barbies, animals you get the idea. they are all stored and marked in the basement. they are easy for me and dad to get to. every few months we switch out the toys HOWEVER all of the toys that are out have to be put away before we get another tote and the kids have to help. and normally by the time they are tired of the toys and want something new they are willing to help clean up. and then its like new toys all over again!



answers from Raleigh on

I am with you on the toy overload. My 7 year old ds is pretty good at keeping things in their place, but my 4 year old dd is definitely not. It is amazing to me how much kids get today. When I was young - we got maybe three presents at Christmas ... when did it get to be in the 20's. Also, birthday parites are so big now too.

I plan on joining a consignment sale coming up and getting rid of as much as I can. I will likely have to do it in somewhat secret - as my family is not as keen as me at getting rid of stuff ... including my dh!

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answers from San Francisco on

You need to get rid of more toys, I'm sorry to say. My theory is that small children can only have as many toys as they can pick up by themselves. :) Kids that age do not need 5,000 action figures in order to be happy. They would be just as happy with 5. Once I realized this, our playroom became much easier to deal with. Get rid of all the stuff one day when your kids aren't there. The deal I make with my kids is this: if they can name an item that is no longer in the playroom, then I will give it back to them. For the record, my kids have never (ever!) been able to name a purged item. They truly don't miss it once it's gone.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Tame the relative gift giving by making toy storage their problem.
If grandparents give lots of toys, make them toys that they play with when they visit the grandparents and the grandparents can store them all and cram up their closets with it.
When it's their space that's getting filled, they learn to curb that urge to buy in a hurry.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

A 3.5 year old can pick up after himself. I got fed up with the toy mess all over the house and the playroom looking like toys r us exploded. So, I told the kids I was calling the toy fairy. She comes in every night and takes all the toys not put away and gives them to boys and girls that can put there toys away and take care of them properly. They make sure the house is cleaned up every night before bed now.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lexington on

I can't stress how wonderful a '5 minute clean-up' has been in our life. Before lunch and bed, EVERYONE does a 5 monute clean up. (Or I tell them to pick up 20 things). This makes a big differance with all the little things that are laying around on the floor.

Your son won't care if he has a bin for cars and a bin for men. He probably likes playing with them together, so you'd end up getting everything out regardless of how they are stored. Get something he can throw his small toys into and set a timer at least twice a day. Even the 1 year old can pick up cars and throw them in a bucket.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Lexington on

First, start at the source. If the grandparents absolutely refuse to respect your boundaries, you could implement what we do - before you leave their house while everyone is in the room together, tell the kids they each get to pick three things and the rest stays at Gma's for them to play with there. If you're not strong enough to do that, you can always take it home, tell them to pick three things, sell the rest and put the money in their college funds (we've done that as well, when we first started). From experience, it teaches younglings greed, laziness, materialism, disrespect (they don't care for their stuff or your space, why would they as adults if someone is always willing to buy them more?), etc.... My DH had to learn from experience over three years when the kids turned into total monsters bc he refused to enforce limits with his mom. It's been a long road back.

We now have a house rule - if you want to bring something new into the house, you have to get rid of something in similar size and genre. No questions asked. No discussion.

If you're the only one willing to take care of THEIR stuff, and its your house, then you figure out what you can and are willing to deal with and enforce your boundaries! Good luck Mama!

Good luck Mama!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

purge and if I have to clean anything up it goes right into a garbage bag. First offence they get them back in a week, second offence they get them back in two weeks and a swat on the butt. third offence they go from the garbage bag to the trash can!

I don't have many messes to clean up except from my 1.5 year old...she's not old enough to understand yet. But my 6.5 yr old and 4.5 yr old know very well when Momma means business.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Would it help to remove 90-95% of the toys so he can learn how to put things back with a much smaller starting place?

In other words, if he only has 5 trucks and 3 action figures, it will be a lot easier for him to put them back where they belong than trying to put away 20 trucks and 30 action figures.

As he gets the hang of putting those few toys away, add in one or two more at a time until he reaches saturation (overloaded with toys and isn't putting them away anymore). That's your line - the rest of the toys go away for good.

It might be useful to give him some choices about the toys he keeps and adds back in slowly just to make sure you don't get rid of something he really treasured but you didn't realize.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

My kids had too many toys, and here are two things I learned in hindsight: If you have someplace to store them, remove half or three-quarters of the toys and put them away, and just let them play with the remaining toys for a week or two. Then, you can rotate the toys and when you bring the other toys out it will be like getting new toys.

My kids had so many toys (most of them were in open bins) they would just dump them out, and then go onto the next thing and dump it out, etc. so picking up and organizing became almost a full time job for me.

BUT, I didn't have a playroom. Since you have the luxury of a playroom (which we didn't have, only their bedroom and the living room), I suggest you RELAX about the messy playroom and let it remain a mess. It IS a playroom, right?

Take my word for this: when two decades have passed, and toys have come and gone, you will know what a complete waste of time all that organizing and picking up of toys was, and how your time could have been better spent in other ways.

Store some of the toys, and otherwise let the playroom be a messy PLAY room. Three year olds aren't good at organizing, and allowing your child to leave the playroom messy does not mean he will grow up to be a lazy slob. This falls under the category of "small stuff."

I wish I had spent less time cleaning and organizing and more time having fun with my kids.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

When our 19 month old wants to bring out another toy we have her clean up what she was previously playing with first. Sometimes it takes MANY tries but she finally gets it. We had the Toys 'R' Us explosion ourselves and we did the pre-purge of toys and I feel overwhelmed too. We have decided to keep a bunch of them in their boxes and if she starts to lose interest in something in a few months, then we will bring out something new (of course, purging the old at the same time!) Now, it has worked in our favor that this year we still had boxed items from either her birthday or last Christmas that could be donated to a needy family. I think the threat of "if I find it, it is mine" was very helpful when I was coming up. So, if your little ones understand that concept then I say go with it!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

No need to get rid of toys. I had this problem and solved it with locked storage cabinets and fabric bins that can fit inside the cabinets. California closets or even the generic counterparts at Target will do the job.

I'd store all toys in these cabinets (at our house they're in the playroom and each child has such cabinets in their bedrooms as well). Big toys are assigned a home on a shelf in the cabinet, and live there permanently unless being played with. Sets or toys where there are tons of small pieces and parts like those little action figures and their accessories,Legos, Leapster 2 with all of its cartridges, etc. each get their own bin which also have their own home on a shelf that never changes. If necessary, for the children who can read, you can label spots so kids KNOW where to put things when it's time to clean up, and can find things when they want them.

Each night all the toys are picked up by the kids and put in the cabinets. Each day, each child gets to check out 3 things from the cabinet for the day. If they want something like Legos or action figures that has many little pieces, that's the ONLY thing they can check out. If they want they can trade an item for something else during the day, but the toy they're bored with must go back on the shelf. So with the exception of the daily checked out toys, I keep the cabinets locked and all toys in the cabinets at all times. Clutter has been greatly reduced and much more manageable.

Like you, we ask that toys remain in the playroom or bedrooms. Without the locked cabinets this wouldn't be possible. We'd probably find toys everywhere too. But with the limit on toys, it's a whole lot easier to track down the kid who is responsible for the toy that is found where it shouldn't be, and get it back to where it belongs by bedtime.

If you're wondering what to do with bigger stuff like ride on or scoot along cars, big Tonka trucks or things that won't fit on a shelf or cabinet, we lock them in the closet...to be checked out also.

Only parents and big kids (11 and up) can get access to the cabinets.

This has worked really well for us and saved our sanity. Our house looks good most of the time. Everyone can find their toys, and there are few missing pieces or broken parts.

When the cabinets get full, then we go through them and donate or give-away.

By the way, this week, Target has it's large California closet knock-offs on sale this week. We have these and use magnetic locks so the kids can't get in them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

We have made it "easy" for our 3.5 year old to clean up! You could get rid of 90% of them, but unless you teach him how to put the other 10% away, you aren't really solving the problem, just making it less annoying.

We don't use a toy box b/c it just becomes a dumping ground. Instead, we use the ITSO storage cubes with fabric bins. Each bin has a designated purpose- art supplies, cars/trucks, Transformers, puzzles, musical toys, etc. We have a picture of "what goes where" on each bin. When it's time to clean up, he does it himself (with some help) because he can.

Just a thought- it worked for us and I stole this idea from my mom because it worked when we were kids too.

We also do a "purge" every 2 or 3 months. Things that he doesn't play with anymore, but are in good shape get donated. Things that are broken get tossed and things that he has forgotten about but likes get put at the front again.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

We simply don't buy more, our playroom is organized with different things in different bins. If our boys get things out, they have to be picked up before they can get something else out. It sounds like you need to sit down and explain to your son that their are children that dont have anything and maybe let him pick a few more to donate.

Also if you tell family please dont buy then any toys but suggest giving money, they probably dont like that idea to much. How about suggesting a membership to a water park, zoo, or kids gymnatics center?


answers from La Crosse on

We also have alot of toys. I go through them 3-4 months and get rid of broken or ones I haven't seen them play with since the last time I cleaned.

As for the orginizing... get different size totes/ boxes. On the outside of each one tape a picture of the toy that goes into that box. That way he can clearly see what goes where. I have done this with all of my kids, it worked the best for us.

I think its also easier to have seprate totes for when they want to play with things... they can pull out one tote and not throw toys out looking for those one items. Plus we made the rule only 2 totes out at a time! Makes cleaning quicker and easier.

Good luck :)



answers from Denver on

We have a one-year old and between his birthday (which was in November) and Christmas he got TONS of toys. He's the only grandson on my side so he got SPOILED! I made sure to write down the gifts, got the thank you cards out, then went through the loot and took things that were similar or that I didn't think he would play with as much (stuffed animals especially) and donated 5 or 6 toys. I didn't tell anyone, and just fib and say "oh, he LOVES the toy" I'm terrible. But he doesn't need that much stuff. Even now we're also drowning in toys, so we are working to clean out his closet so that we can use the floor to store toys and then just trade them out every so often.

I tried to tell our family as well - they don't listen. They want to buy him toys! I just make sure to keep the toys from his family that visit us often ;-)



answers from Washington DC on

Stop him periodically in his play. When you see him dumping a new bin, say, "We have to clean up the trucks first". My DD is much more willing to clean up when I make it a game. "I bet I can get more dinosaurs than you can! 123, go!"

She once lost her favorite bear due to lack of cleaning up and I remind her of that sometimes. "Remember when Bear got lost because your room was such a big mess? Let's make sure that you always know where your trucks/dolls/toys are."


answers from Los Angeles on

As a Mom/Auntie to 6 boys and 1 girl I have learned to just deal with it! Ha! I do a purge 2x a year and have all the kids help with a '10 minute tidy' every night before they go to bed, this really does help! They are only little and playing with toys for such a short amount of time, (really its about 12 years) but it seems to go by SO fast, that I have learned to live with it. I try to keep the living room as toy-free as possible but realistically I know the toys will go everywhere the kids go, which is everywhere!

Your kids are still pretty young, I promise it does get easier the older they get and the more they are capable with the help of the clean-up. Just get in to a routine of cleaning up (the 10 minute tidy before bed really works!) and before you know it, it won't be bothering you as much! Also, if you notice they are not playing with something do not hesitate to say 'Hey lil' Johnny, please pick up your train, you are not using it anymore' and eventually they will get in the hang of putting things away when they are done with them....repetition is KEY!!

~My oldest set of boys got SO many toys (ALL my boys have October b-days, then Christmas) a couple years in a row, that a few months after Christmas there were still un-opened boxes of toys in their closets and those got donated, I figure if they weren't opened and played with then they wouldn't be missed. After a couple of years of this happening I had a nice talk with the in-laws about maybe toning down the amount of toys they purchased. They understood completely and for my 2nd set of boys we haven't had to deal with all the excess!

*The baby girl (one and only girl on both sides) is a whole different story though...she is SPOILED and no amount of talking will change that, we ALL go overboard on her and it has yet to be a problem! :)



answers from Washington DC on

You are asking a lot of questions.

You need to instill a few pick up periods throught the day for the 2 older kids, like right before lunch, right before dinner - set the timer and make them pick up. I also have a 3 and a half yoear old so you need to have him mostly sort, and then give guidance for putting away. He needs specific language like "Collect all the little people in the basket" or "Find all the cards and make a pile here." Your 12 year old should be helpful in giving out those instructions. But with a 1 year old in the mix you clearly have to be down on your hands and needs helping him do it. It is hard, and my house never feels toy free, but you just have to be consistent. If everyone in the house spent even 10 minutes per night picking up, it would help a lot.

As for the too may toys issue, I think you need to plan gifts that don't take up space. My daughters each got one big toy. Then my older one got a kindle and an xBox game. The younger one got new art supplies. They did get someother things, but I tried to make sure everything had a home before it was bought - they got bubble bath (bathroom) and hair bows (hair bow basket) and legos (got rid of the duplos) and chocolate milk (kitchen) and coloring books (art cabinet). I knew what was coming and made space for it before Christmas. They did get a handful of surprises from relatives, but not too much, and in the case of a few board games, I asked them to throw away their old baby games before opening the new ones (which they were okay with). So make a one-for one trade and everything has a home. And yes, I do ask for money or give suggestions to relatives. Usually they ask, but I don't feel too bad asking, "Did you get the girls their gifts yet? Do you need any ideas?"

And yes to the bins - Container Store sells clear plastic shoe boxes in various sizes which are awesome. Matchbox cars? One box. If you have too many for that box then you need to get rid of some and so on. Labels are great too with words or pictures..


answers from Milwaukee on

The toy rotation might be a good idea... I only have one child, a girl (age 5) and it is barbie items and lego trails everywhere. For the most part now everything stays in her room unless she asks to play with it in the living room. I usually am more calm and remind her as soon as I step, trip or find pieces, at times I bring out my mom voice "why are there barbie shoes here" and she runs quickly to pick them up and throw them in her room. Hubby on the other hand will yell at her to pick them up, put them away and ask why he has to remind her over and over.

Tomorrow, first day back to school after Christmas break, I am planning on doing a huge massive cleaning of my daughter's room. Anything broken gone, anything I think she has not played with put in a pile so I can ask if she has played with it (my daughter is very honest about this, at least for now, and will say to donate it), create another pile to go to grandma's house (she asked for a few more play items, and we can spare them), then hopefully I only have FOUR medium bins of play items & ONE of stuff animals/dolls.

I believe that the more a child has the less they have respect for their toys and will leave them laying around more. My purging of the toys I hope my daughter truely has more respect for the toys and less to make a mess with. At this age too they just need to be reminded and guided in picking up, frustrating to always have to remind them but it is not their first go to thought when done play... usually it is what to play with next.

Someone told me that it is good for a child to be bored this way they learn to use their imagination and make less of a mess. Of course hopefully they use the imagination resposibly otherwise it may be a bigger more destructive mess.


answers from Los Angeles on

You're right, with so many toys they don't miss any when you take some away, so use this to your advantage. My guy will be 3 in April and I rotate his toys each week, keeping the majority of them (about 80-85%) on top in his closet. One of my brothers gave him 45 Matchbox cars for Christmas, he gets 3-5 to play with at a time, no more. He can play with a couple of bigger toys at a time, and if he wants to play with more he puts something away at that time. He has bins with lids to keep everything in, no huge toy box or tote, and I purge unused toys about 3 times a year, I list them on Craigslist for free if they show wear, and donate the nicer ones to a shelter.

As far as curbing the grandparent gifts, allow your children to take one or two home from each set and the rest stay at their houses to be played with there.



answers from Chattanooga on

I agree do the rotating toys. Cause little kids get bored fast and this way they are less likely plus less mess. Plus also if you notice they never play with some toys donate them through like Freecycle(sp?) or something so they go to other families who may not be able to afford toys.



answers from Detroit on

I am in the same boat as far as toy overload. We moved into our house last July and had a big purge then when we were setting up our daughter's playroom. 5 months later I'm asking where they all came from because I was sure we had gotten rid of ALOT!! Time to purge again and my 4.5 year old daughter is surprisingly on board with helping :) Maybe you could suggest to the 3.5 year old that there are children without toys and would he like to give some to them? That way he gets a sense of helping others as well as keeping the room neat. Then when the younger one gets older, recruit him as well.
A savings plan for the kids is a great idea as well. For birthdays and holidays, suggest a small donation in lieu of gifts that will go to a savings account for that child/ren.



answers from Johnson City on

When my niece was little we bought a little plastic "toy train"... it was just 3 or 4 plastic bins with wheels and a rope handle. Every so often we played cleanup by pulling the train through the house and loading it with toys. Worked great!

When our daughter was little (grade school) she had plenty of toys. She also had many friends who liked to spend the night. They would trash her room and one day she was complaining about it to me. I explained they were her friends and if she let them mess up her room it was her responsibility to clean it up. Funny.. her room was rarely trashed again. She layed down rules when they came and I didn't have to deal with cleaning up after them.

We taught her to lean up after herself by singing Barney's clean up song while we cleaned. She enjoyed it and to this day she keeps her room very clean... even now that she's a teenager.


answers from Lansing on

I think you could do a few things.

One main thing, more organization. I've found this to be the answer. I found little tubs that have lids with handles. The girls are allowed to bring them out to the living room, but now its more easier to control them to clean up one tubs contents before getting out another one. Imagine this, we have a tub for barbies, dress up, my little ponies, doll house, puzzles, craft/coloring, & baby doll items. It is MUCH more easier to control what is brought out and its also easier for them to know where it goes away. The more organized you get the better it is to oversee your kids put things away right.

I also used to have a playroom just completely trashed all the time. I did also get rid of a lot. I kept their most favorite things to do, and even then slimmed down those items. I put games/gameboards/puzzles up high so they have to ask to play with them. I also got rid of the giant toy box...as this just got filled with toys and they were never thought of again. I really did a good job slimming down their toys. Now they mostly have an excess amount of Barbie & My Little pony as these are two of their favorites. But the rest is whatever fits in the little hand carried tub.

Another thing you could do if you don't want to get rid of the toys is put some away in a large tub and store them in the basement. Then switch them out with other toys every month or couple months. This does really work.

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