Toys All Over

Updated on October 10, 2010
J.O. asks from Novi, MI
25 answers

If the kids are are toddler, preschool and preschool, do I let it go and have the house overrun with toys?
If I put them all downstairs (the toys, not the kids), what was the point of buying the toys?
We have hurt feet from stepping on stuff. It's stressful. We can barely walk and have a path anywhere.

I just cleaned for an hour, and the child dumped the toy bins all over the floor right away.
Wanting to give up cleaning! Even cutting back and having just some out, quickly becomes a mess. Plus, we cannot vacuum.

What can I do next?

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answers from San Antonio on

1. We get a big laundry basket for the living room. If the toys don't fit in there, then they need to go to the kid's room.

2. My 2.5 yr old has to clean up himself. We help him, but before he eats his snack or before he goes outside, he must clean up.

3. We rotate toys. I'll get a box and fill it with toys (so there are fewer bugging the crud out of me!). In a month, I'll take those toys out and put different toys in. Almost like magic, my 2.5 yr old is awed by the "new" toys he hasn't seen in a month.

4. Any new toys we get, I store in the closet and pull out one at a time when my mind desperately needs an evening break (when my favorite show is on or when I have a headache or when dad's out of town and I can't handle all the stress of the day).

Oh and for puzzles and 'flat' toys, I got a $10 shoe rack at Walmart and the puzzles and other toys fit great on there.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

we have wicker baskets w/ lids from Cost Plus that all the toys go in. When my daughter (3.5 yrs) is done playing or before we move on to something else she ahs to pick up the toys. I clean out the bins about every 6 months and throw away anything she doesnt play with or is missing parts. If she doesnt pick up the toys when asked, we tell her they will get thrown away. We have never had to do this, only had to bring the big garbage out and then she was picking them all up. I do help her most of the time to make it go a little faster :) Now she knows if we are going to go upstairs she has to have everything picked up downstairs and vice versa.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I knew a mom that laid out a big blanket. Once they were done playing, she gathered up the edges and put the whole kaboodle away.

I used to have only a few things within reach at one time that way it was fast enough for me to clean up.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Scranton on

I sooo feel your pain. I am in the process of cleaning up the toys. I am putting different sets in different bins and putting them out of their reach. If they want them daddy or i have to get them and they will get nothing else untill the other is picked up and put back! Sounds mean but i have had enough!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I just went thru the house and found all of the most annoying toys (meaning the loudest or most pieces) and hid them in the guest room closet. Chances are the kids will not miss nor ask for them. I plan to periodically swap them out for other toys & to keep the clutter to a minimum.

A few months ago I did a toy purge and boxed up a ton and donated em to my sister's daycare. Sooooo glad I did that!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I have noticed that after three kids there is no way to maintain your house any more and you should learn to love the kids and watch them play and grow instead of worring about them having the house clean. people know you have kids. Most people have issues with this.... I use to but i have learned to enjoy my kids. Its been dificult and i still have issues... Once a week I make them clean every friday its a ritual. they have to clean the house even the older ones. They all have to do it. I know its really not right because the older ones aren't making the mess but they can get it done in a reasonable time. Also it also showing the little ones how to pick up and put away. But if you are gonna clean and than they make a mess. They need to be taught to put back when there done playing. It can be taught but you need to spend tons of time and strict ness on it to do it thats how the two older ones learned. Good Luck!



answers from Boise on

I would say do a toy purge if there are truly that many. Also, make sure that you have giant bins that fit all the toys. Make the kids put them in the buckets. It will allow you to walk, keep the toys corralled (may not be pretty, but who cares), and it will teach the kids to be responsible for taking care of their toys.



answers from Detroit on

This sounds like my house. We attempt to do an evening tidy with their help. It's not perfect, but they need to be participating in learning responsibility for their possessions. Granted, there will be excuses and whining and tantrums, but that's when the consequences occur (appropriate, like taking away some toys for 24 hours). Eventually they get the gist that if they want their toys unbroken and available, they have to help clean up the house. I moved the toys from the living room to their bedroom, and have sorted them by type (dolls and stuffed animals in one bin, baby clothes and accessories in one, and I separated the items with smaller pieces in to a set of plastic drawers). I have to do a lot of directing: "Please put the baby in the bin, please put the book on the shelf, not on the floor." Make sure you thank them for their help. Truly, it isn't perfect, but at least you get portions of your floor back after they go to bed. When we need to vacuum, we have superquick speedy pick-up day. We race around and see who can pick up the most items and put them away. If they've helped for a while and lose interest, I let them "hide" from the vacuum on my bed and finish the remainder myself. Yes, the toys come right back out, but it only lasts for, well, several years. ;D If you come up with something better, let me know!



answers from Detroit on

We rotated the toys every couple of weeks. But we also had control over what they played with. Make them put away the toy before they start playing with another one. We started this at age 2 and we haven't had a problem since. You have to be strict and stick to it, it will be hard now, because it sounds like the kids are able to get their way. Stay strong and you can do it.



answers from Detroit on

Gahhh...I totally feel your pain. I feel like the toys (at times) are totally out of control - space is limited, it's always a mess, we're stepping on stuff, etc.. I've been trying to get family and friends to give money for the kids' college funds, to mostly no avail. Blaaaahhh......

So no real ideas here, just sympathies!



answers from Boston on

preschool is definitely old enough to clean up their toys and the toddler should be given direction to help with the clean up. I used to have to tell my younger son "okay go clean up all the balls" and wait until that was done and then "great, now we will clean up the blocks" etc. Now I just say clean up the room and they do :) I like the shelf w/ the bins they tend to get the toy they want with out making a mess in the process. We have a playroom and all the toys must be back in there before lunch and then again after dinner.



answers from Detroit on

All of these are great suggestions to try. My only piece of advice for this worked when we all were children. I tried it with mine but the ex messed it up it worked great as long as it was enforced. Let the children play with one toy at a time when they are done with that toy they do not get anything else out till it is put away. My kids after they were a 2 were only allowed to play with toys in their bedrooms or outside. If they played with them anywhere else that rule applied and it worked after I was seperated from his dad it took about 3 months to get it back into his head and to this day my 11 year old who has a tractor/farming collection will take them out to the living room play with them for a couple of hours then pick them up and put them back in his room. That is not to say his room stays clean it doesn't but I can always shut the door and I don't have to look at You have to use the solution that is easiest for you to enforce that is the only way it will work. Try one for a week if it works then stick with it if not move on to another one. If you teach them while they are young to keep thnigs picked up they will. If you have a small house it is so important to keep things picked up or they get out of hand quickly. Good Luck.



answers from Kalamazoo on

Giving up teaches them to live in chaos! I know its tough. My best suggestion is downsizing the toy collection. They can't play with them all at the same time anyway. Only let them get out one toy at a time and put it away when they're done. Its more work initially until they learn, but its worth it in the end, and no hurt feet, clogged vacuum or disaster area. Be sure all toys are put away before bed time each night.



answers from Harrisburg on

My trick to that dilemma is to take away some of those toys. Do they really play with all of them at the same time anyway - answer is NO. Put some away, and keep out just one or two favorites (if you don't want to throw them all away, i.e) have an amazing way at that age to find something else to occupy their l ittle minds - like having an imagination and using whatever they can find to play with. So get rid of some of them or keep stepping on them and cleaning up...boy do I hate having to bend down all the time and the kids sure don't pick it up fast enough....All the best...I feel your pain!



answers from Detroit on

My philosophy has always been, if they are old enough to take it out of the bin they are old enough to put it back. It worked well for my first and third children but my middle one was pretty stubborn. When he was about 18 months old he had pieces to a toy spread out and wouldn't put them away so they sat there for 2 days and I took away all access to other toys. My oldest was baby gated in his room (where middle couldn't get to) and happily played with (and put away) whatever he wanted to. On the second day I asked middle if he was ready to pick up yet so he could get a new toy and he grudgingly did. He picked up about half and I praised him and helped with the rest. It's never been an issue since. They have a huge unfinished basement to play in now and without scolding they do a decent job of keeping it clean.



answers from Detroit on

try putting some toys away and leave less to have to clean. then in a week or so rotate the toys. the children will think they have new toys. also in order to give your child organization skills have them help with the cleanup.



answers from Philadelphia on

I think all of your children should be capable of helping clean up, even my 17 month old will help me clean up. If he dumps a bin of stuff with no intent to play with it then I pick the stuff up and the toys get put away for a few weeks. He doesn't dump them very often anymore, certainly not all the bins at once.

If your house is overrun with toys you might need to donate some of them or throw them away. Alternatively I have heard of families rotating toys. In this case half of the toys are in the playroom and half in storage and every few months you switch. It cuts down on clutter and makes younger kids feel like they have new toys again every few months because they have forgotten what toys were in storage.



answers from Tulsa on

Toys stay in the bedrooms or they go in timeout in my house. I realized one day that I had spent hours just picking up after the kids in the living room and kitchen. The toys had shelves in the living room and some in the bedroom too. I decided to take all the toys into the bedroom and changes our lifestyle. It has worked well for me after I got them retrained. It took a whole lot of being consistent and not backing down or forgetting to do the time out. Now when they come out of the hallway in to the living room I just say "Is that toys wanting time out?" and they turn around and go back to their bedroom with it.

As for the bedroom, if the toys are taking over then they have too many toys. Put some in storage and switch them out every month with a few different ones plus their all time favorites. It gives them the sense of newness.


answers from Detroit on

I agree that this is a problem that many parents have (especially when you have more than one). Our playroom is in the basement (it was supposed to be the hubby's man cave, but he got less than 1/4 of it and the rest is toys). I can honestly say that my son plays with EVERYTHING. The problem we have is that when he's looking for something in particular, he will dump out EVERY SINGLE STORAGE BIN looking for it. And you KNOW its just gonna be in the very last one LOL! I've yet to officially "organize" his toys, but I KNOW that this is gotta happen. Because everything just gets thrown in to where ever it will fit right now, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to anything, so I kinda understand him tossing everything out on the floor to find what he's looking for. I know at his Preschool and even now in Kindergarten, they label storage boxes with a picture of the items that need to go in...i.e. a picture of a car for all toy cars....a pic of a block for the block bin...etc. And I know, even with all the kids in the room, they all can indentify the pictures and put away as needed. (I've volunteered in both rooms and have SEEN it done). So I'm just pretty certain that this has got to happen. I'll probaly just wait to he's at school one day..sit down and organize it all and then label EVERYTHING. When he gets home, I'll provide the explanation for what is expected and go from there.

As far as where the toys son already has a VERY limited number of toys in his room. He has a few favorites, but otherwise, everything else is in the toy room downstairs. Also, if he brings toys upstairs to play with, I pack them all up in a laundry basket at the end of the night and they go right back downstairs (ok, so the cleaning part doesn't always happen right away, but at least they're out of my line of vision). I know it takes some getting used to, but it will help you feel a little more in control of how many toys are lying around.

I used to feel guilty that my son would be downstairs on his own playing...then I realized that he obviously needed a break from me as much as I needed a break from him. So now, when he wants some mom time, he'll be back upstairs....or if I wanna hang out with him, I'll join him in the toy room and play. You actually get the best of both worlds.....



answers from Detroit on

Now is the time go teach them to put things back where they belong. I can not tell you how happy I am that I did this when my girls were young. They are 5 and 7 now and are generally pretty good at putting their stuff away. They are still children however and there are still those moments where it seems as though EVERYTHING they own is spread around on the floor!

I found that the smaller the bins were the easier it was for them to find what they want and to put it away. I got one of those multi-bin toy things (wood frame canvas or plastic bins) and seperated all their toys. Barbies with barbies, cars with cars, and so on. Since doing this they are are less likely to dump everything out on the floor to reach that ONE tiny toy sitting at the bottom of the toy bin. I use the large toy bin only for large toys like houses and big dolls or the barbie car.

They know everything has it's place and since their toys are in the basement now they can just grab whatever bin they want to play with and either stay down there or bring it up to the living room.

When they were younger (toddler-pre K) I would try to make a game out of it. I would say "let's see how fast we can pick up our toys" and then I would help them put their things away. We would sing the clean up song or just have fun putting everything away as fast as we could. I would give my youngest specific directions too "put the baby doll in the toy bin please."

Takes some practice and patience but they will get it. The important thing to remember is that you need to keep at it in order for them to get used to having to do it. Trust will be much more stress free in the future for doing this!

Happy Organizing =o)


answers from Rochester on

I kick everything to one side of the downstairs, vacuum, then kick everything back to the other side and start over. I also cannot keep toys picked (my 2-year-old dumps everything out even when my almost 4-year-old is actually picking up). Sometimes I put the kids at the table with puzzles or something while I pick up fast and they love to "help" vacuum by zooming around with a few push-toys.

I am considering putting a few types in lidded bins in the basement and swapping them. The problem for my kids is that they actually like and play with everything. They also remember and know if they can't find something specific. (The reason I can't really thin things out unless they are broken.)

For now, I have 2 3-drawer carts from Wal Mart (narrow ones) and used clear tape to put words and picture "labels" on them to help the kids sort toys, and all of the bottom three shelves on our bookshelves are for kids' things (books, large toys, dinosaurs, etc.). My floor is so rarely picked up that I usually take pictures when it is clean because it makes me feel better. The worst is getting the kids to help. It takes ten times as long to have them pick up than it does to wait until they're asleep and do it yourself. I know it is important for them to take care of their own things, but it is a lot more frustrating for parents.

This was more of an empathy reply than suggestions I guess. There will always be a mess, I am somewhat reconciled to that, but I try to vacuum at least once or twice a week anyway and kick things away from the main traffic areas.


I might try Jamie M's idea and just leave out what I can stand. They do well with limited access things like crafts, but I also don't know what else I would put on our bottom shelves and I hate to leave them bare. :)


answers from Saginaw on

I got so tired of this, my solution was to get rid of toys and limit the toys and organize. I bought bins that had locking tops on them. They can still open them, but they aren't inclined to just dump them out.

Right now my girls basically have kitchen toys, dress up toys, small doll toys, ponies, barbies, blocks, play dough, puzzles, arts & crafts, board games and books. I got rid of all other toys that did not fit in these categories. Its been a lot cleaner in our house. Not perfectly clean but better. There was a time you couldn't even see the floor of their playroom.



answers from Los Angeles on

Do you have a designated playroom in your house, or can you create one? For now, while my son is a preschooler (age 3), we don't have a formal living room. Instead, that is his playroom and all the toys are in there. Sometimes they find their way into the family room, but I always make him clear the family room at the end of the day. About half the nights we clean up his playroom before bed and half the nights I just don't want to deal with it.

I got storage cubbies (each unit has 4 cubbies and we have 4 units) from Pottery Barn Kids (though you could get them anywhere - I know Target has nice ones too) and his toys have designated cubbies so he knows how to clean up. One of the units is used as a bookshelf. We also have a couple of big wicker baskets on the floor - one for balls and one for a variety of small toys. It has helped immensely since everything has a place and he knows where it all goes.

I know some families also set a rule that their kids have to put a toy away before taking a new one out. Your kids might be a little young for this, but you could have a max of 3 toys out at a time and they have to put one away before taking out a 4th.



answers from Detroit on

I would choose a few toys at a time and have a designated spot for them...shelves, laundry basket whatever is do-able. Keep the rest in the basement and alternate. ANY preschool kids can learn to put their "work" away when finished. It is VERY typical of pre-schoolers to dump everything out and have chaos going unless they are shown to have some sense of order. I always had the rule that if it is not picked up and put away when they were finished with it, it went into "the bag" and I would decide when it or anything else would be avaialble for activities. So put some stuff away. They can't possibly be playing with all of it or ANY of it if it is just all over the place. Take control Mama! You have the power! You could also make a game out of it when it comes time to picking up etc. It could turn into fun!



answers from Lansing on


Many of the other moms have said the same thing. Yes, your children are old enough to be taught how to clean up their own toys. Here's the trick, they will learn and maintain the skills better if it is taught in a fun way.

You might want to look at these two sites for ideas on how to teach your little ones cleaning skills appropriate for their age.

Start off slow and work on the skills in baby steps, but within a few months they should just need a reminder from you that they need to clean up.

C. J.

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