Somehow my kiddos accumulate more toys that I know what to do with. The toys always pile up so quickly, especially after the holidays. Instead of being overwhelmed by all the toys, I have a game-plan for keeping the toys organized. I have created a system for cleaning up all the toys in 5-minutes. Don’t believe me? Well, I am here to share how you can do that too! It takes some prep work, but once you get things organized, you can clean up the toys in 5-minutes as well. Just follow these tips for a 5-minute clean-up of all the toys in the play room (or any room in your house).
Every Toy Has a Designated “Home”
Every single toy we have has a specific spot to call “home”. I have bins for the play food, cars/trucks, dolls, Legos/Duplos, blocks, etc. If a toy is too big to fit in a bin, I find another “home” for that particular toy. For example, some of the cars and trucks are too big for bins, so their “home” is under the play table, which we call the parking lot. The strollers have a “home” near the bench in our play room. All the pots and pans for the play kitchen have a “home” on the hooks that are on the wall next to the play kitchen. The books go in a bin inside the teepee. And the pillows and giant bear sit on the bench in out play room.
Because everything has a “home”, I can clean up the play room in about 5 minutes depending on if the kids help or not. If the kids help, it takes longer because I sit and support them while they are cleaning up. We will take time to count some of our counting play food. I will only focus on cleaning up one type of toy at a time, so I don’t overwhelm the kiddos with too many things to think about while cleaning up. When I have asked them to just “clean-up”, they run away or fight me. But when I give them a specific task to clean, they do better because they can focus on only finding one particular item, such as putting away all the cars.
Labels, Labels, Labels
I label everything, and strongly urge you do to the same. I do this so everything is clearly defined, and easy to find, which encourages independence for both my kids and my husband! There are many ways to label your toy bins. You can search Pinterest for fun labels. You can find some adorable write-on labels like these from Name Bubbles. Or you can create your own labels using pictures.
Picture labels are the best for toddlers and preschoolers. Once you have given all the toys a “home”, line up all the toys that go in that particular bin. Take a picture. Then repeat with every bin that has toys in it. Print off the pictures. Laminate the pictures. Attach the pictures to the bin. If you want to get real fancy, you can print off text that goes with each picture before you laminate. Then you can have both pictures and text for each bin.
Removing The Junk
Whenever you and the kiddos are playing with toys, do a quick scan to see if any toy is broken, missing parts, or just not being used. Toss the broken toys, and donate the toys that aren’t being used. If you notice a bin isn’t being played with, go look through it to see what is in there. It might be time to donate the toys in that particular bin. By removing the junk often, you will no longer be making room for things your kiddos don’t play with. Another thing I like to do is once a month, go through all the toys to see what and where some toys might be. I’ll create a donate pile of the toys that aren’t being used.
I have a large bin in our garage that I use for a donate pile. Once that bin is full, I’ll make a trip to our local donation center and bring the bin back to store in the garage. By keeping one bin to collect all the things we will be donating throughout the months, reduces the piles we have within the house.
Taking Time To Teach Cleaning-Up
This step is super important to being able to do a 5-minute clean-up. I have taken the time to teach my kids how to clean up. How should you do this, you may be asking yourself? Well, I turn teaching clean-up into a game!
Once every toy has a “home”, and all the bins have labels, I show the kids each bin with its picture label. They have to guess what goes in that particular bin. For example, I will show them the bin with pictures of cars and trucks. I will ask, “What goes in this bin?” They will tell me cars and truck. Then I’ll ask them if this car goes in the bin. They will say, “yes”. Then I will ask them if this truck goes in that bin. They will say, “yes”. Then I will ask them if this block goes in that bin. They will say, “no”, and I will say you’re right! This silly black doesn’t go in here. Where does the block go? They will search the pictures to find the bin with the blocks. Then we will put the block in the block bin. I will do this again for about three or four more bins. If the kids are still into the game, we keep playing, but if they are over it, we stop.
Then, the first time it’s clean-up time. We sing a clean-up song. I give the kiddos a particular task to clean up one type of toy. I will help supervise by pointing out that a toy is hiding over here. Or that this race car needs to race into the bin. The very first time we did this, I only had them put away one type of toy. Then the next time we cleaned up we did two types of toys. Until we got really good about cleaning up our toys quickly. Now, we can clean up the toys together within 10-minutes, or I can clean the entire room in 5. I end up cleaning up a room by myself if we forget to clean up before we go somewhere around dinnertime and don’t make it home before bed. Or if we play in a different area of the house and the kids clean up that area, I won’t make them clean up everything in the entire house because they are still young.
5-Minute Sweep Every Night
Every night before I go to bed, I do a 5-minute sweep of the entire house. I put the pillows back on the couch. I will put away that rouge toy. I’ll wipe down the tables and spray the toys. I will run the dishwasher, and wipe down the sink. And just check to make sure everything is put away. I do this so that in the mornings, everything is in its place. I don’t have to come downstairs to find toys scattered across the floor, or dishes in the sink. It helps keep all the toys in one place, so the kids can find them easily, and I am not hunting for a missing toy because it wasn’t put away. It also allows my kids to start their day more independently because they can grab their toys and start playing without my support.
Using these tips, I have gotten clean-up time down to 5-minutes because every toy has a “home” and all the bins are labeled. I remove the junk often, and have (and continue to) teach the kiddos how to clean up the toys. And I do a 5-minute sweep of the house every night to make sure that everything is put away and ready for the following day. Now it’s your turn. Think you can get your toy clean-up time down to 5-minutes? I’d love to see you try using these tips!