play room

It's time to spring clean. One overwhelming task can be organizing toys. It can be next to impossible if your child knows what you're up to. Suddenly, toys that have been long since forgotten become precious novelties. And, as a parent, you don't want to be the meanie who threw away a childhood favorite toy and hear about it for years to come.
Here are a few suggestions.

GATHER AND SORT: Get all the toys in one room. Use boxes or totes, and put like items together. Arrange by type and age ranges. Separate any dirty or broken toys or any that are missing pieces. If any are missing pieces, call the manufacturer and see whether you can get replacement pieces. Check online auctions, thrift stores and garage sales, too. When visiting these secondhand sources, take notes on prices they charge for the toys you have so you have an idea on pricing if you want to sell any. Identify which toys can be cleaned easily and which are at the end of their useful life.

STORAGE SOLUTIONS: Floor space is prime real estate, so look for space on walls, ceilings, closets and doors. Toy nets, shelves, hooks, door and closet organizers, and hanging chains work well. Floor space is often best utilized with shelving units, toy bins and rolling-drawer caddies. You can use a picture- or text-label system to make it easy for kids to know exactly where a toy belongs.

PURGE: The toys your child has outgrown are an opportunity to teach him or her about money or giving. Let them learn as you sell or donate toys. This can be a motivator for them to let go of some of the toys they might be clinging on to. There are multiple places that will take them.
Here are a few suggestions.

SCHOOLS: Ask teachers whether they want toys for their classroom, treasure boxes or as rewards.

TOY LENDING LIBRARIES: Sometimes, even if they can't use them to lend out, they'll accept them to resell to buy toys they need.

CHILDREN IN NEED: You can donate books, toys and other much-needed materials to children in the Philippines. Visit Books for the Barrios ( for more information. You can even donate stuffed animals. Visit SAFE (Stuffed Animals for Emergencies,, which gives them to emergency organizations to dispense as needed.

SECOND USE: Reuse toys for crafts, as ornaments or as gift embellishments. Organize a toy swap with friends, create activity boxes for the car or a rainy day, or make story sacks with toys, printable worksheets, craft supplies and a book.

NEW RULES: Set new rules, such as for each new toy that enters the house at least one other toy has to leave. You can tuck some away and rotate the toys they play with to get best use from them all.