Playroom needs a better system

michie1November 4, 2004

As you can tell by my last 3 posts I'm having concerns regarding the organizing of my daughter's toys. I like everything neat, with a place for it all, which is why unlike many people I know I clean up my daughter's playroom & bedroom all day long as she plays BEFORE things get too out of hand or things get lost, which is a big pet peeve of mine that I see in so many peoples homes.

We even just even made a playroom in my basement. Here is the main problem I'm having though, not everything can be on the flr. At this rate when Xmas comes there won't be any place to put her new toys. I've already weeded through the things she doesn't need when we moved everything down there. I find that we're not using any vertical space but there is no room for an entertainment unit or bookshelves. We're going to add the tv hanging from the corner.

I would like to add shelves to one of the walls to start placing things like games & other smaller items or boxes, which unfortunately means she'd need to ask me for but the problem is the that shelves would have to start 1/2 way up the wall because we had wainscotting installed (obviously I wasn't thinking when I planned that), plus I'm not sure how usable the space below will be. Right now that area has strollers, shopping carts, cradles, high chairs, etc. (for baby dolls) & I don't want her bumpin her head.

I'd really love to see any pictures of anyone whose gotten their playrooms organized so I can get ideas.


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Well, no offense intended (seriously), but from reading this and your other posts, my first thought is, that child has way too much "stuff". You say you've already weeded out the things she doesn't need, but we're only talking about one child here, right? And she's getting tons more barbie stuff and toys for know that already, which means you're the one buying it. As a parent, that's your right, obviously, but if you are, as you say, one of those people who can't stand stuff anywhere but in it's place, it seems to me that the place for you to start would be getting *rid* of some of that "stuff", and limiting the amount that comes into the house from now on.

You use the plural in this post saying,

Right now that area has strollers, shopping carts, cradles, high chairs, etc. (for baby dolls) & I don't want her bumpin her head.

Does she *really* need multiple strollers, shopping carts, cradles, high chairs, etc??? Could she be just as happy with less? Decluttering is the first key to organization, and though you *say* you've weeded things out, it still sounds like there's a lot of unnecessary stuff being kept. That could be true for the videos/DVD's too - you said you were considering an over-door shelf, but didn't know if it would all fit. My suggestion there would be to *make* it fit - keep only the movies she watches *all the time* on that shelf. If you want to keep the others for her later - pack them up, and store them away. If they're videos, odds are they won't still be watchable when she's grown, so just usher them out the door.

Declutter, declutter, declutter - organizing will *always* work better with less "stuff" to organize. :-)

    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 4:46PM
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I'm w/ you, and w/ Jamie. Getting rid of my kids' toys is just never ending. And they always start to enthusiastically play w/ stuff I've just decided can go away.

And now that DS has started to actually read, I'm nervous about ditching books! I'd thought of tossing one, and then bingo! Last night it was one of the first books he read to himself.

but, less stuff is crucial. Truly, it is.

The other thing is, WHY is there no room for a bookcase in the playroom? It should be a priority--Oh, wait, I see, the wainscotting. I don't quite get why that means "no shelves," though.

Get a bookcase that's about shoulder height to an adult--one w/ a back. Set it out from the wall by about 12 to 18 ihches. If possible, center it somewhere so the space behind it is accessible from both sides.

viola! a "garage" for the baby buggies, etc.

You could use a wood "spacer" or bar to keep it from getting slide back. Or, cut a wooden clothes bar to the right width, and rest the wall end in a little "cup", and SCREW the other end to the back of the bookcase (put it in a cup first, perhaps), so the bookcase can't get tipped over, and it can't get slid too close to the wall.

This would work w/ the wainscotting, too--bcs the shelf wouldn't touch it at all.

(also, you can set a bookcase in front of the wainscotting, and use L brackets to bolt it to the wall above so that it doesn't tip over on her--you don't HAVE to use shelving that screws to the wall. it's OK to block the wainscotting.)

If you wanted to, you could have doors made from wainscotting to go ont he bookcases so it looks like the bookcase is part of the wainscotting. Put it on the sides of the bookcase, too, if you like. Then it'll look sort of "built in"

Then, you have storage in front, on shelves (add one shelf at least from what they give you when you buy it), and "stashing stuff" behind it.

If that doesn't work consider other ways to great a "garage" that's got a wall on one side.

You can also consider, depending how big the room is, putting a shorter (chest height on a grownup) bookcase in the room as a room divider. Then she can have an area where the baby-care toys are used, and belong, and are mostly blocked from view, and you can have shelves to put stuff on.

Also, be sure you're encouraging or even requiring HER to pick up the stuff she's playing with. One advantage to putting it on shelves high up--she has to ask you, and you can say, "put that away before you get something else out."

My own home would be more pleasant if my DH would do that w/ my kids, when they're trashing the living room (which is OUR playroom--their room is WAY too small)

    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 6:53PM
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While it's true Lainie (yes my only child) has allot of stuff I wouldn't say TOO MUCH. All of what she has is nice & she plays with. I go through things she's outgrown & put them away. I would never give away perfectly good stuff & unfortunately I also love to shop & Xmas is my favorite holiday & she is getting soooooo much this yr so I'll have to find more places to store things & keep things organized, which is why I'm trying to get ideas now, knowing what's coming in b/c I'm already done with shopping for her (except for the guinea pig which I also have to find a space for).

She doesn't have multiples of everything but she does have 2 strollers, 1 shopping wagon, 1 high chair, 1 cradle, 1 carrier, 1 car seat & 1 play pen all lined up against the wall. None of that can go anywhere but on the floor either. She does play with all of it & when my nieces come over (often) they all are able to push someting with their babies inside without a fight over who has to go without.

Does she really NEED all this stuff, well, no, but what fun would life be if all we had was what we needed?

I did re-evaluate her bedroom based on your comment of decluttering & b/c of it I already cleared out 2 plastic drawers & in the bottom of her closet. I've made space for things that can now get off the flr (build a bear & american girl clothes/accessories), so that was helpful. I'm going to do the same thing in the basement with the bookcase style unit that have plastic baskets. Who knows if I can empty a basket or 2 I might find room to fit other things in them.

As far as videos she does watch MOST of them often & I wouldn't weed them out to make them fit. She got 19 videos alone for her bdy in June & I have a collection of Xmas videos that I collected pre-daughter days that she's also able to watch now. She hasn't outgrown anything yet, she's only 3 so it doesn't make sense to me to break up the stuff & have them in 2 separate areas, other than adult vs. kids in different areas. If they fit inside the over the door units, great, but if not then that's not the answer for me.

You're right she & I have allot of stuff (example of my THINGS: I have about 8 sets of dishes, put up 4 Xmas trees, tons of photo albums & a teapot collection for starters)& unfortunate for me I also like things neat, so it's a CONSTANT battle shuffling things to find the perfect place for them.

If the reason a bookshelf is a priority is for books then the reason it isn't in the playroom is b/c I have that in her bedroom, where we read. It's actually one of those stackable cubicles that I have stacked 4 high. I actually just added a stack this wk b/c even that was overflowing. I will be weeding out the baby book there though.

I didn't say no shelves, just no shelves until above the wainsoting if they're going to cause her to bump her head & I have no flr or wall space left to put anything else on the lower part.

The room isn't very big - I believe 15x15 but the walls are broken up with a door to the boiler room, 1 to the bathroom, double doors to the laundry room & 1 to the electrical closet, plus the stairs, so there isn't much flr/wall space plus we will be adding a sofa down there. Right now I have resin chairs lined up where the sofa will be (afraid to take up the space with toys & then not know what to do with those things).

"be sure you're encouraging or even requiring HER to pick up the stuff she's playing with."

Absolutely!!! Right now it's more work than my doing it all but I know it'll eventually payoff. She tries to pass off sometimes how she needs help or she doesn't know where things are but on occassion she's cleaned up her whole room or playroom (when it was my liginroom) & everything was in it's place OR I've overheard her telling people that they are putting things back in the wrong place. Love it!!!!

I hadn't thought about the fact that things on shelves even though it means asking me to get them also means she'd HAVE to put things away befor eI got her something else great idea!!!!

I wish I could post photos of my playroom so you'd get a better idea of my dilemas but the last time I tried it wouldn't work.

Thanks ladies!!! I got some great ideas.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 10:29PM
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My niece, Chloe, who is nearly three, lives with me, and one rule we've instituted (in addition to the rule that says that she must clean up whatever she takes out) is that she must clean up and put away the current toy before she can choose another. She's been doing this ever since she could choose a toy (with help in the beginning, of course), and now she does it almost without being asked.

I like this, because everything stays where it belongs. We use plastic bins and boxes so that like toys stay together, including books. She has few videos, because she doesn't like television - she's really active.

We weed through her toys often, easily four times a year. Now that she's older, we ask her if there are toys or books she'd like to give to children who don't have as many things as she has, and then she gets to go along when we donate them.

I find that, though she likes her toys, she'd much rather hang out with us while we cook or clean or do errands or just sit on the front porch. To keep the sheer number of toys down, we try to put a big chunk of our gift budget into her college fund, instead of into toys.

Now, she's not deprived by any means. She has fewer toys than many of her friends, but still has plenty.

Here is one thing that we use in our home. We actually bought two of these, we liked the first one so much. They keep like toys together, are short enough that Chloe can reach them, and are wide enough that they won't fall on a her (as a bookcase that's not secured to the wall may). They're also free-standing, so they wouldn't need to be fastened through the wainscotting.

For a toy chest, we used a big rattan covered box from PierI (much prettier than a toy box, and not as hard). She throws her stuffed animals and other toys that have no parts in it. She also has a three-shelf plastic bookcase, that holds plastic boxes, each with a single toy and its parts.

Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: bins

    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 11:52PM
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Wow! After reading all your posts, I'm dumbfounded by all the toys she has and IS STILL GOING TO GET!

Me too, I don't mean to be rude at all, but you really need to take a step back and say STOP to all this buying! I can say this, I HAVE BEEN THERE....I thought my 4-yr old had lots of stuff when she was 1, 2 3 years old, until it started all coming back at ME! It became a full time job to keep track of it and help pick it up, not to mention all the money I spent trying to figure out what to do with it, what system worked best for organizing. I got rid of most of it and she doesn't care. She didn't even know it was gone! I found that I was bored with what she had and was bored so I'd go shopping! I'm currently trying to change my ways...and trust me, my 4yr old had it ALL. It's now easier to store, she has more imagination with less and when she goes to somebody else's house they have new stuff. I figured there was something missing in MY life for me to keep buying and buying. But I found present opening was a task for her at Christmas and B-days and I found she had more fun opening what she could absorb...just a few things!

The fact that she's going to be getting somewhere around 8 MORE barbie type dolls is amazing to me, in addition to movies, the dress-up clothes and other large pretend play items. And it's not what, it's the quantity! How about 1 of each?

I think you need to sit back and figure out what is really, really important and what you are teaching her about...STUFF. YOU'RE cleaning up her stuff before it gets out of hand? I'll bet if she had to clean it up as well, she could do without 1/2 of it. And you already said there is no room for her new toys for Christmas? That should tell you there is too much! How about when the new comes in, shed some of the old? I hate to look back and see how much money I, yes...ME...spent on toys and bins and organizing ideas for toys! I probably could have bought a houseful of furniture or paid off my car!

For a solution...I agree w/the shelving...I used two 3' x 3'high shelves back to back and made a cubby for reading or whatever w/a rocker or pillows on the floor and a light. Kids like nooks and areas for certain things... a reading area, pretend play area, table/coloring area, etc.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 10:30AM
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I know you all hate to hear it, but I know I'll never stop buying her things. I had HUGE Xmases growing up & I get as much fun from buying & watching her play with these things. Sure there are some things here & there that she doens't play with either b/c I found out they were too advanced & I think now is the time to put those items away & put away the few things she doesn't have interested in, but I do have to say it's not many. She actually plays with allot of her stuff with prefering baby doll & kitchen & Dr. things, she loves certain stuffed animals, she loves watching movies although other than rest time she usually does it while playing (she doens't sit there zoned to the tv), she loves arts n crafts & playdoh, her work books & reading, her sandbox & now the Barbies.

Annellis, those bins you show I have 1. I actually don't love them. They are only good for organizing small things. I have them organized - musical instruments, baby clothes, baby accessories, little dogs, little cats, etc. Today I'm actually clearing out 2 of those bins.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 11:38AM
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Michie1 - It's not that anyone cares what you buy for your daughter or how you store it. It's just that you asked the question, and most - if not all - of us on this forum have found after long experience that the best way to organize our homes and our lives is to simplify. Have less stuff, less activities, etc. It's the less is more philosophy.

Now, many people *don't* subscribe to that philosophy, and that's their business. From what you say, you don't subscribe to it. That's your business. Just be aware when you post here that most of us think differently, and will give responses that don't fit your life.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 12:34PM
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Each year before Christmas we have a big garage sale and the majority of what we sell is toys. It's not that we buy so much for our children but the grandparents absolutely refuse to cut back on Christmas. So, to eliminate clutter we have a sale - the kids earn a little money to spend on Christmas gifts and our house doesn't feel overrun when the holidays get here.

We had a garage sale last week and managed to get rid of quite a bit and made around $500 in the process.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 12:40PM
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But I found present opening was a task for her at Christmas and B-days and I found she had more fun opening what she could absorb...just a few things!

May I say, from the perspective of two kids, ten years out, that I found this to be VERY true.

I've tried very, very hard to change my ways. I'm getting there--I'm not perfect. I like big Christmases, too. But I've found that my kids don't miss stuff--especially if they never get it.

And they play more w/ their IMAGINATIONS when they have a tad less stuff.

To achieve the "big Christmas" feel, I do what my mom did: give them underwear, cereal, an outfit they need. This year, depending, they might get new raincoats (if they don't need them before then). I turn a necessity into a gift.

Also, note that no one is saying "get rid of the stuff she loves."

I *would* say to you, though, that if you get too many things, and provide her too many options, you will DILUTE her enjoyment of stuff, because you'll scatter her attention.

So, in a very friendly and supportive way, we're trying to say, "be open to the idea of reconsidering how much stuff you bring in your home, and how many gifts you buy for her."

You're early in the gift-buying stage--three is when it begins. And it doesn't end until about 12, so you've got 9 years of tons of stuff coming in.

I'm sure you'll find that you want or even need to taper off (for one thing, when my DD was 9, there was nothing left to give her--no room for it, and she already had it. So no one gave her toys, and she had a VERY sad Christmas. That's what I mean about leaving room for growth--like that half inch at the end of new shoes)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 1:24PM
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The room isn't very big - I believe 15x15

wowee, Michie--you live in a different world than I do--15x15 is considered a nice, big room, where I am. My living room is a tad smaller, and my friends say, "what a nice big room!" My bedroom is a tad smaller, and it fits a queen-size bed, and a reasonable office area. My kids' room is much smaller, and it has bunk beds, a big dresser, two tall bookcases, a picnic table, a bank of Sterilite drawers, a baker's rack, and a short bookcase. Not a lot of playing room, but some. AND three doors (one a double door), and three huge windows.

Square isn't always great for a multi-purpose room, but yours is nice and big, so it *can* be subdivided.

I could fit a sofa AND play space in there. And frankly, if I had a living room, I would not need a big space for the sofa area. Sitting too far apart is not that helpful for conversations anyway--in my living room, I know this.

If the room is 15 feet wide, you can put a 4-foot-long bookcase into it, sticking out as a divider, and still have 9 feet for walking around. You can cut it into a 7-foot area for a cosy sitting space, and a 7-foot area for playing (1 foot in the middle where the divider bookcase will be).

You can put stuff in front of the door to the electrical closet, and even in front of the door to the boiler room, as long as whatever is there can move out of the way. I mean, how often do you open the door to the electrical closet? Get low bookcases--er, excuse me, toycases--and put big casters on them. Then, put them in front of the doors. You need to work on the electrical, you can roll them to the other side of the room.

Get a deep, low bookcase, and you can set the guinea pig's cage on top.

What I'm trying to say is, question some of your assumptions, Push the envelope a little. Not every item must be used the way it's labeled. Not every door must be accessible at all times, as long as it's accessible when you NEED it.

If the reason a bookshelf is a priority is for books

I didn't say a BOOKshelf. I said a bookCASE. CASE, meaning, freestanding, with solid sides, a back, and shelves (usually adjustable).

In fact, I wasn't thinking about putting books on it at all. It's shelves; you can put toys on them. You can put records on them. You can put vases on them. You can put the hamster cage on them. (oops, wait, i see you have a guinea pig; their cage is larger, so you'd need a deeper shelf; you could screw the deeper shelf in place to it doesn't tip out, and set the cage on it. Or use a regular-depth shelf, and screw the cage in place so it can't tip off, and the shelf in place so it doesn't tip out).

You can put doors on the front. of a bookcase so small messy stuff can be hidden away inside.

Our language doesn't have a word for "toycase" or "stuffcase." The only word we have that means "freestanding shelves w/ sides and a back" is "bookcase."

"Freestanding shelves without solid sides and without a back" is "etagere." You could use one of these, too, but I suggest the "case" because the sides and back will keep stuff from falling over and off. Also, painted, it will look classier and more likely to go w/ your wainscoting.

Oh, and my sympathies on the guinea pig! well, that's not fair; you may love yours. Mine stink, they're afraid of us, they take up a lot of room and a lot of time, and they gave me asthma. No, to be fair, they AGGRAVATE my asthma, I probably had it before we got them.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 1:45PM
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I've realized that no one has mentioned "rotating toys."

esp. when your kid has a lot, this can be very useful. W/ lots of stuff to choose from, kids can be overwhelmed. Or, toys get stale. If you've got room, move some of them out for three months, and then switch.

They'll feel like their old toys are new gifts.

Some toys are such perennials, you might never rotate them out.

I've never been able to do this--don't have much of a space to rotate them TO, for one. And don't have time to rotate them. But it makes sense, and I know tons of people who suggest it, so I wanted to be sure it was on your list of ideas to consider.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 1:47PM
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Oh yeah! 15 by 15 is a big room in my world too!


    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 3:49AM
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Rotating toys is a great idea. I have 2 boys - 6 and 3 and I do this often with games and other stuff. We just loaned out all of our Rescue Hero stuff (2 dozen or so characters and 4or 5 buildings) to a preschool to use for a few months. It's pretty sturdy stuff so I'm not concerned about damage. In its place I brought out the Imaginext toys. They are both sort of like doll houses for boys, so the switch works nicely. I also store the brio stuff under my son's bed. The train table is low and on wheels so it slides easily. It's actually a painted door with trim to make a ledge. I pull it out for a weekend or rainy afternoon every few weeks and they love it. When it was stored in the open in the basement playroom, they never played with it.

One of my playroom issues is that it is a really large space and there's so much stuff there that the kids get overwhelmed with what to choose. That's why minimizing and rotating is so great.

The original poster probably doesn't want to hear this either, but when my older son turned 4 we made a new rule for birthday parties. No gifts from friends. Instead they were asked to bring either a new or gently used toy to donate to the local emergency shelter. He still got plenty of toys from his relatives and even some stuff from friends who were kind enough to bring 2 things, but it really made the day much more manageable. For his last party when he was 6, he decided on his own to organize a baseball equipment drive for a new league that was started on a small Carribean island that we frequently visit. We didn't think much of it at the time, but they announced it on the radio there and he was a bit of a celebrity on our next visit. He got to work out with the team while my DH coached a practice and although he didn't say much (he's a pretty quiet kid), I think it made an impact to see his donations in use. For my 3 year olds next party we are doing something similar.

That exercise made me and my kids realize that they really don't need all that stuff.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 9:51AM
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I also store the brio stuff under my son's bed. The train table is low and on wheels so it slides easily. It's actually a painted door with trim to make a ledge.

Hey, that's a really neat idea! mind if I snitch it?

This is a fun thread--thanks for starting it, Michie. There are some neat ideas coming out.

I also have realized, thinking about these threads, that when my first kid was 3, I went overboard too. That's such a fun age to buy for--there are tons of neat toys, and they're really starting to ENJOY playing with those toys, and they love getting them--they're not blase yet. So Michie isn't alone in that. She may be luckier than me in that not so many people will buy her presents, bcs everyone in my family loved the idea of getting presents for my kid.

I like that idea about loaning toys to a preschool. We've had really bad luck w/ stuff getting broken by friends, or when taken to daycare, etc., so I'd be nervous. But that Rescue Hero stuff *is* pretty sturdy.

I could loan to a friend, and if it gets broken or pieces lost I wouldn't feel a grumpy, I think.

The Imaginext stuff, which both my kids really like, lives in big tubs in the LR--storing them is a bit of a challenge. Esp. since one wall is already full, floor to ceiling, w/ books, so I can't just put them on shelves there.

Maybe window seats.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 10:03AM
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Gee I normally speak to people from other states who feel that home sizes & properties in my area (Ling Island) are small by comparison. While I we do have a large home that room is very tiny I feel considering we'd like to use it as a sort of playroom/family room & we find it's broken up by very little wall space due to all the doors. It's about a 1/3 of my basement size.

In my daughters 10x10 bedroom (really small I think)we have managed to put a full size bed, armoire, double dresser, small toy chest, a plastic booksehelve (stacking crates) & a 3 drawer rolling cart as well as some toys on the flr but I wish she had more room to play. I have every nook & cranky filled in & finally this wknd I reorganized the toys & closet & have room for more things in her closet. Hmm, I was just thinking that if I am able to move the clothing from under her bed that get as hand me downs & hold onto until they fit & put them in her now more spacious closet that under bed bed we could put those rolling under bed boxes & maybe place toys in there when space runs out again. Just another idea.

I see Sue you're from NYC, so I can see why this space would be considered large if you live in Manhattan. I guess you have to sacrifice space to be in the best place in the world!!!! I rarely get to go intothe city these days, but I can say I certainly don't miss the commute I used to take getting in there when I used to work there.


    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 10:23AM
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The message about the train table reminded me of our train table growing up. I had forgotten about it until now. Dad was very handy and creative. We had a wall with bookshelves starting at about 5 feet. Under that was a very large (maybe 8' x5'?) bulletin board that stuck out from the wall. This pulled down and out and was a train table inside that was maybe 3' off the floor? (hard to remember sizes!) The track and some buildings were fixed to the board, and we had others to move around. When we were done, we just folded the whole thing back into the wall. The bulletin board was a great space for displaying artwork, too.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 10:33AM
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I really agree that the best way to organize is to get RID of stuff. My family seems to be 50% purgers and 50% pack rats, I'm a purger, the pack rats just don't get it. :P

From a kid's point of view (hey I'm only 27 wasn't that long ago I was still a kid) more is not better. Really, no matter what is sounds like when we beg for the newest and best. Sure my sister and I wanted just about everything under the sun but thank goodness we didn't get it. Mom's rules were simple: our toys were allowed to be stored in our bedroom closets. Period. We didn't have a "play room", we didn't have toys in the living room, family room, etc. My little 9'x10' bedroom stored everything I owned as a kid. I took care of and appreciated my toys, because unline my friends, I didn't have so many that I wouldn't miss one if it broke! (And if there wasn't room for all the toys they were weeded out and donated or thrown away as appropriate.)

Why wouldn't you give away a perfectly good toy? I hope you wouldn't give away a broken one! (I'm sure that's not what you meant.) Giving things away is a great feeling. My sister and I were often told to organize our toys, and to fill up a bag with those things that could be taken to the church thrift shop. Then we took them in and donated them so that someone else could enjoy them.

It didn't take more than a few years of that before my favorite part of Christmas WASN'T opening my own presents but making/buying presents for everyone else in the family. Letting a child see you donating good things that aren't NEEDED anymore to charity is a great lesson.

Last note: Guess what my all time favorite toy was as a kid? Not any of the toys Mom & Dad bought me for Christmas or I begged and pleaded for. Nope. (those tended to have a shelf life of about 2 months)

My favorite toy was made by me from a few pieces of wood into a pretend sword. My sister and I each made our own (Dad helped her since she was 3 years younger). We spent literally ALL DAY playing we were warrior women or lady knights with those things for YEARS. And they were just scrap wood, some glue and markers. Find a single toy sold in Toys-r-Us with that kind of staying power.... Well you won't.

The point is she doesn't NEED tons of toys and videos to be happy or have fun. What she needs is a calm, peaceful space that encourages her to use her imagination and has lots of room to play with a few favorite toys.

    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 12:21PM
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Arabella - I LOVE the train table idea!! We currently have space for my boys full train table in my older son's room, but when #3 comes along it will be a tight squeeze. I'm filing your idea for the future!

    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 1:30PM
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"Why wouldn't you give away a perfectly good toy? I hope you wouldn't give away a broken one! (I'm sure that's not what you meant.)"

No you're right, that's not what I meant. Of course I'd never give away anything not in good condition. We donate plenty of things from my home, just so far not much of my daughter's toys. We did donate soe things I won at an auction to her pediatrician's playroom. I give away my own clothing all the time & we donate $ to charity & our time to caring & rescuing animals so I think & hope she's learning goodwill in other ways plus she understand & loves being involved in git giving.

Given she's only 3 & that most of the toys are from us & things she still plays with it doesn't make any sense that I would donate or throw out things that are probably only 6 mos to a 1 yr old just to clear space. That's allot of $ in the garbage & I feel that's wasteful. Anything much older than that has been put away for a possible future younger sibling. My feeling is you donate things that have been outgrown or are no longer liked/used, but we don't have much in that category so far.

As far as favorite toys, when I was growing up mine were Barbies, paperdolls which were very inexpensive and the Spiegel catalog. My daughters all time favortie activites with me are anythign we do together ourside of the house & that's usually shopping OR when we decorate together for some holiday. She knows she gets my undivided attention & we talk allot & I let her get involved in picking outwhatever we're shopping for. That's how we bond.


    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 2:36PM
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RJVT, that drop-down bulletin board is a great idea!

I have so little wall space in my kids room; the one wall there is, is taken up by the bunk bed. There's nowhere to hang posters, or a mirror, etc.

I've toyed w/ the idea of putting a door on the front of the bookcase, using bulletin-board material (Homasote), or masonite. Then the kids could put posters on it, etc.

But I didn't think of it dropping down, and becoming a play surface!

Michie, I live in Queens, but I grew up in Iowa. Out there, a 15x15 room would be a nice size. Not huge, but not small either. With all those doors, I can see that you'd think of it as being so chopped up, therefore smaller. That's why I'm very serious about suggesting that you think of those doors to the seldom-used rooms as something you can cover up, as long as the stuff that's there can roll out of the way.
--Talley Sue

    Bookmark   November 8, 2004 at 2:40PM
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I've read this link and I thought I had posted on this thread but might have been another thread. (?) I have spent way too much time writing this and I always worry when I start responding with a novel that I have offended or will offend someone. This is one thread that has been on my mind for a while though... Anyways here are my thoughts:

I agree it is hard to get rid of toys. This seems to be a touchy subject with you. Let me tell you though right up front: I have three kids. Three. We have saved toys from the oldest one to give to the next and now the next. We have toys for boys and toys for girls, toys for five year olds and toys for toddlers. We have a lot of toys. We have a lot of toys that are out and available at any given time because each child has his/her favorite toy and each child is a different age etc. And I think that if you and I were to line the toys up side by side- your toys would far exceed what we have right now.

I simply can not imagine having a 15 by 15 space just for toys and a room that is 10 by 10 that is full of toys and clothes and still be trying to find more space for more toys. That is just amazing to me.

As a child development person. That is I have a degree in Child Development what I can say is this- I believe you are doing a disservice to yourself and your child in many ways.

a. Children get easily overwhelmed with large amount of choices. Hence the suggestions to minimize and rotate toys.
b. Children need a chance to be creative and toys take away from that. Hence the suggestions to minimize and rotate toys. c. Children need to be told no and need to do without. (more later in this novel). d. Children need to be able to want things. If we provide everything now, what will they ask for at age ten? A car? How long will they enjoy getting things if they have it all?

My house is 1600 total square feet.

I have a three bedroom house. Right now one bedroom is a study. One bedroom is mine. One bedroom, you got it- has three kids. This won't always be the case but for now, it works. Their bedroom is 11 by 10. In their bedroom I have two full beds, a crib, a small toybox and a dresser. My son's bed has toys under it in boxes. We rotate toys in and out of these boxes. Under the crib are their next set of clothes they will grow into. Under my daughter crib is a useless trundle bed. Useless because it can't be pulled out at this time. In their closet are two sets of plastic drawers that hold clothes for the older kids with just enough room above for coats and haning clothes that are nice. The baby gets the dresser- diapers wipes in top drawer, clothes bottom two drawers).

I have a living room that is 17 by 29 feet. One whole wall (26 feet long) is windows. One side opens to the kitchen. THe other wall is 17 feet and it has a door and a fireplace in the wall. This leaves me essentially one wall and a lot of floor space for stuff. IN this room we have our dining area, our tv/family area, and a play room. No other play room for the kids. I have essentially subdivided this room into small sections for each area. Our living room/tv area is set apart by a small area rug, couches that are close to each other and face each other.

The kids area is about 9 feet by 10 feet. IN this area we have a kitchen set up right now. It's small house with shelves, stove etc. When the kids get tired of this, we have some rocking horses I switch it out with and a small barn.

I think that maybe your daughter doesn't need a 15 by 15 space to herself. Unless I misunderstood everything I've read, I believe you are doing yourselves and her a disservice. She is part of the family. In my home, as you can see, the kids are right there in the room with us playing. We are together. We play with the kids and the kids participate in life with us. We have put their books on the bookshelves below our books. Their toys are in a basket near the couch. Etc.

There are a lot of reasons for this. They can see us interacting as adults and see what a good strong marriage is like. They can learn to live with someone- picking up after themselves so the house looks neat, being quiet when someone is watching tv, etc. We believe this gives the kids a sense of belonging and being included, a sense that their things are as important as our things. I could go on for why we choose to have the kids play in the front room with us rather than their rooms or in a playroom.

IF they need some down time or quiet time or alone time they have their room. There are toys in their room and some place to play with them in their room but not much.

It has worked so far for us to have our house set up this way.

We are actually looking at doing an addition (if we ever do it) and adding on a space of 15 by 17. This room will have a table and bookshelves for homeschooling. It will also have a play area for the kids and we will most likely move their toys to this room. THere will be a study area in there as well with a computer, bookshelves for study stuff etc.

I guess what I'm saying is with a room that is 15 by 15 you can do a whole lot. I think you maybe doing yourself a disservice if you don't allow your self some of that space. Of course, maybe you live in a huge house?! And by seperating your daughter from others and saying 'go play here' you may be doing her a disservice as well. Just something to think about.

Maybe instead of trying to set up a playroom that works, you might want to think about how to incorporate her stuff into your house as a whole. For exampe- We have toys in our bathroom in a small bin in the cupboard. IF the kids want to play while I put on make up, they can and they are near me and we can chat. Simlarly I keep some of their books by my bed so we can cuddle and read in the morning or evening together.

Furthermore, even if you see that room as chopped up by windows and doors etc... I think you can give the illusion of different areas. Area rugs will help define an area. Bookshelves, furniture with a nice back (such as a couch) can be used to help define an area also. Think of going up rather than across. We put bookshelves that go floor to ceiling. I rotate toys on this bookshelf right now. The higher toys they don't play with and every so often, I just rotate the bins and toys around. It makes a difference, the kids play with the toys longer when they are rotated.

I would seriously encourage you to move up and into the room if you will not move stuff out.

I was in one house where the mother had installed a shelf about 10 inches down from the ceiling all around the room of her living room. She took all the stuffed animals she didn't want to get rid of and put them up there. Then she put other htings up there- books, etc. It was way up high. It wasn't stuff you would rotate in and out but it was a nice place to put sentimental saving things.

A net to catch stuffed animals in one corner. A book case to hold bins of toys. Baskets under end tables and coffee tables. (Pier One is a great place for this as are Costco the other import type stores.) Group like items together in bins and stack them behind something. I have toys behind my couch in bins. Put them under things. We have slid puzzles under our couch for example. Be sure you are using every inch of space efficently. My daughter has some strollers. (Two- one usually ends up going to the store with us and one is usually outside). We installed some hooks like you might hang towels on in the bathroom. We put them in their playhouse area at about eye level. The strollers can fold up and hang on these hooks. Dress up clothes can hang on these hooks. We have even made bags to hold blocks and they have hung on these hooks. You listed some toys like a playpen for a doll etc. These can easily fold up if they are like the ones my friends daughter has. Fold them up and when she wants to play with them, she can get them out to play with them. Think of baskts that have handles and are easy to move around and lightweight. Stack them up against a wall and they will look fine.

IF you really are going to use the majority of this 15 by 15 space for her, then I'd also think in terms of cubbies or areas. A house keeping area, a free play area, a book area, a stuffed animal area, a craft area, etc. Daycares do this and there are some very valid reasons for why you might want to do this also. Same with rotating toys.

You might seriously look at some of these catalogs for daycare furniture. One house I've seen that had five kids in a house about my size actually built a loft in their front room. There were stairs going to an upper area that had bookshelves and a play house area for the girls. Under that there were more shelves and a craft area for everyone. One end had a folding down thing- they used it as a table but it could easily be the train table etc.

I think has some of this type of furniture. There are other catalogs out there with this type of furniture. You are essentially giving your child a second story in your one story area.

You say:
Does she really NEED all this stuff, well, no, but what fun would life be if all we had was what we needed?

I don't think anyone is suggesting ONLY keep what is needed. But merely that you rethink what you are keeping.
I also think if we are honest, and that subdiscussion was started in this thread a bit- if we are honest, it is not the stuff and toys we remember from our childhood.

I really think we tend to go overboard with our first kid. I buy my kids a lot of toys. I still do. This really is a large problem though right now in society. Parents, society in general, are so busy spoiling their kids (If you will allow me to use that word without being offended). Children are not learning the value of waiting for something, working for something, earning something. THis is one reason credit cards are a large problem with college kids. THey have never had to do without, they have never had to really earn it and wait for something. They throw down the credit card and when the bills come they can't pay them. Credit is a problem, bankruptcy is a problem, debt in general is a problem in society and it really does stem from how we feel and interact with money. This is just one of the many problems that arises from how many of us are raising our children today.

We as parents are doing our children a disservice when we buy them all these things and wrap our world around the child. John Rosemond has some very real, very down to earth thoughts about just this topic.

One thing I do a lot of is rotate toys and purge toys. I get rid of toys whenever possible. If I see my child isn't playing with it because he out grew it, it's gone. If it's too advanced, I pack it up for later. And so on. Every year starting about now, I go through my kids toys about two or three times and get rid of with a firm hand. I don't allow myself to get sentimental or my kids to participate except to tell me the one or two toys they do not want me to get rid of at all.

You talk about how it's wasting money to get rid of perfectly good toys. It's wasting money to buy so many toys in the first place and then buying furniture to store the toys and plastic bins.

You talk about the things you and your husband do to 'pay back the community'. You donate money, help animals etc. And please don't think I'm knocking that. I'm not. I think that is great and you are setting a super example. I guess I would encourage you to allow your daughter the opportunity to participate in her own level. The best, easiest way to do that is to let her pick some toys to get rid of and pass on to less fortunate kids. I have always been amazed at the generosity of my children and their willingness to share with those less fortunate.

I come down very strongly on the get rid of more stuff so you have room side of this whole thread. I also come down very strongly on the side of bring less stuff into your house. Failing that, I think TS had some excellent ideas. Move out into the middle wiht a book case, move up with shelves and use a bracket to hold them to the wall. (You can cover wainscotting and it will look fine- no one will notice wiht all the toys around anyways).


    Bookmark   November 10, 2004 at 2:09AM
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apoem....that's worth printing out, even for us who are working on this all the time.

Applause, applause! :)

    Bookmark   November 10, 2004 at 9:36AM
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apoem, I don't get ofended by people's opinons & suggestions. I respect them even if I don't always agree with them & of course I take some into consideration & have walked away with many helpful hints from these posts.

The space isn't to herself completely. It's supposed to be a playroom/family room but we have to wait to be able to afford a sofa for now so we can all sit & relax there. Currently we have resin chairs & an old tv & vcr. Evntually that's where we'll all hang out at night as we used to in our livingroom, plsu I have my laundry room right there so I'm down there often whiel she's playing. As far as integrating her toys into the house - no way, that's exactly what I was aiming at getting away from when we had this basement refinished. I used to have my lvingroom filled with all this stuff & I felt cramped & never like I had a nicely decorated room for entertaining or company. Now while this basement is predominantly a playroom I also want it nicely decorated & presentable but at least it's out of the view of people who walk into my home. In no way is my daughter separate from the family. She is up & down all day & has some toys in her bedroom & a few (dollhouse & dress-up) in my room & we are together during those times.

While I do agree that many children can get overwhelmed by many choices so far I've seen that she pretty much does play with most of her things & is pretty good at rotating what she does play with so it's not the same at all times, but of course she has her favorites. If you've read any of my posts you'll notice that creativity is not something she's lacking b/c she has toys. She's not zombied into the tv & she plays creatively with her toys & friends & also has a love for arts n crafts & drawing, & the things Mom likes like crafts, gardening & shopping.

Once again I totally agree that my daughter has allot of things & allot of that has to do with the fact that we can afford to do so & also b/c we she's the only child. I doubt we'd be able to continue at this rate for much longer nor with other children due to less $ & space. I do think she is getting spoiled from so many things & does often expect things b/c she's used to getting them BUT I am also a tough diciplinarian & when I say no it's no & that's it. I know it sounds like I rarely say not to purchasing things but they are mostly given at gift time rather than on an ongoing basis. Prior to this post I had already discussed wirh my husband about having to cut back on any future gifts (after Xmas b/c they are already bought) just for the purposes of teaching her. I actually feel badly abour that b/c that would be it's sole purpose. I think that giving your child too many things at age 3 is a bit dramatic when comparing them to college kids who overcharge & get bankcrupt. That stems from being taught about $. If we don't have it we don't buy it or the credit card gets paid fully at the end of the month so she won learn from me that it's OK to charge limitless.

I know how many people want me to say that I'm going to give away my toys but that's just not an option I was going to consider at this point. My question was merely how to organize what I do have more effectively. You say that it was a waste of $ buying them in regards to my saying it is a waste getting rid of them if she plays with them & they are in perfect conditions. Obviously I completely disagree. It's only a waste if they aren't being used or if they are broken carelessly.

Thanks for your thoughts.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2004 at 10:46AM
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I would encourage you NOT to feel bad about the idea of teaching your child by not indulging her. Teaching your child is the MOST important thing you must do. It can be hard to forget what a gift that is, but it is. In the *long* run, it's a better gift than any toy you could get her.

I actually agree w/ Ginger's comparison of credit-card shopping and getting lots of toys. I worry about my kids, bcs my in-laws get them anything, whenever. They've used to always getting something. And if they don't get something new every now and then, they start actively looking or asking for it. And I worry that they'll be governed by the expectation of "constant acquisition."

(also, like me, you *can* afford all those toys. But in all honesty, 10 years out, I wish I hadn't spent it but had saved it instead. A stronger savings account would be a huge gift to my family right now--in the IMPORTANT ways.)

i know that I went a tad overboard for my first kid. What some of us are trying to do is give you the perspective you don't have--the perspective from 6 years out, when there's nothing left to get the kid, and we're stumped for great Xmas-present ideas, for example.

That's us, this year. We either don't have room, and I mean DON'T, or they've already got it. True, we've got a bigger family than you, but frankly there's nothing left. Unless it's a category of toys I don't like, or more of the same.

Also, we sort of can't get Kid No. 2 stuff, because we've already got a good one of those that was Kid No. 1's. We don't have room to have two; they don't NEED two; but it means KidNo.2 is always using stuff that KidNo.1 identifies as hers. Plus, we don't have IDEAS for him, bcs we've used them up already on KidNo.1. That's the "room for growth" I was trying to encourage.

I haven't been very good at it. I don't think I have gone as overboard on my *own* as I could, but I had plenty of help from other gift-givers (and at times other than holidays).

I also find that the periodic "treats" my kids get don't feel very special to them. They just sort of expect them, instead of treasuring them. So, I have a different problem, in that for my kids, the treats arrive at irregular intervals yearround.

You'll slow down, as the years go by; I think the enjoyment you having in your child and her toys right now is very normal. So I don't expect that you'd want to change. Right now, you can afford the room, and you're willing to spend the money. But I'll be really interested to see what you think about 6 years from now.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2004 at 12:54PM
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Thank you so much Talley Sue. You & everyone have offerred some very good advice. Where will I be in let's say 6 yrs. probably right on this board telling everyone the same thing you guys are telling me about not getting so much (don't think I'll ever be telling anyone to throw things out though). I think you're so right on target though about having spent so much $ that could be better saved for the family or other things. Maybe if I wasn't such a shopper we'd have $ for that sofa or to re-do my kitchen. Oh well. Live & learn.


    Bookmark   November 10, 2004 at 3:05PM
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Michie I really agree with you about NOT integrating the toys into the rest of the house. That was a huge thing when I was growing up, toys were in the kid's space. I can't beleive it sometimes when I go into people's homes and there are toys in every room, its like the kids take over! I can't imagine what my grandmother would have said. ;)

    Bookmark   November 10, 2004 at 3:17PM
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So here's what I did. I still don't have shelves up to get some of the things up on the walls (looking to add floating shelves) but with Xmas & a huge influx of new things I have to say I've tackled things well enough that it doesn't look anymore crowded. I did de-clutter a little but as I said I'd never throw any perfectly good toys out that get played with - that's like throwing $ out the window.

To organize Barbies I got one of those over the door pocket organizers meant for Barbies & each pocket can easily hold 2 dolls plu sthe smaller pockets are fo rth emini My Scene & kelly dolls. I have that on the outside of the electrical door in the playroom which is right next to her Barbie house. Granted she has a hard time reaching some of the higher pockets though.

I got a primary colored 3 dawer storage unit. The bottom drawer is for Baarbie clothes, the middle for Ken clothes & some large accessories, like stands & the top drawer for furniture pieces that don't stay in a Barbie house. On top of unit I have those plastic drawer units meant for screws & nails. I have everything sorted: barbie shoes, ken shoes, kelly clothes, kelly shoes, handbags, dinnerware, personal accessories like visors & water bottles. Believe it or not my 3 yr old is perfectly capable of putting things back in their place. I think the incentive is knowing she can find what she's looking for.

We've also ordered a new sofa in leather so it won't get dirty & will replace the resin chairs currently there so it'll be a more comfortable space for the family to hang out together & then for her bdy in June we're getting a craft sized kiddie height table & 4 windsor chairs in a honey pine from Pottery Barn to replace her small square resin table & chairs so she'll have more room for crafts & we won't have to lug it to the kitchen & spread out more mess.

In her bedroom there are some additional American Girl type furniture pcs & dolls at the foot of her bed but we now have doll stands so they don't get ruined. I am in the process of thinking about a better way to display this area & will probably put the small toy chest in her room at the foot of the bed instead & then the area where the chest currently is I migth build a little table like play area so some things cn be underneith & she can actually play with them on top of the table, but that is no where in sight yet. Maybe this Summer.

I also finally got her dress-up out of my room too!! I reorganized her closet with a large 2 drawer plastic file cabinet. The top drawer has dress-up shoes & purses & accesssories like wands while the bottom drawer has dress-up clothes & scarves. On top of the unit the hats are stacked up (thinking about getting a wig form) & there is a smaller plastic 3 drawer unit that houses her dress-up jewelry in categories by necklaces, bracelets & then rings & sunglasses in the 3rd. This has worked out wonderfully. Well I got rid of the dress-up clothes from my room BUT now it's been replaced by a bulky treadmill. The dollhouse is still in my room but that's OK b/c she can hang out to play while we watch tv in bed at night or wknds.

So allin all I'm pleased with the progress I've made.

Thanks for your ideas.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2005 at 10:09AM
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thanks for the update, Michie!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2005 at 10:48AM
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Good for you. IF you are pleased that is the most important thing at this point. It sounds like you have put a lot of work into setting it up for her.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2005 at 12:34PM
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What an interesting thread about toys!.. I would say that we tend to the VERY conservative end of the spectrum when it comes to toys. The sum and totaly of all my kids toys ( I have 5 kids at home) fits in an area that is 3 feet wide by 3 feet high. 6 bins, one with blocks, one with legos, one with Rescue Heros, one with dress up items, one with brio trains and one with playmobile items. That's it and at this point we are getting rid of the blocks soon since no one has cracked that one open in 3-5 months ( the little ones are getting older) This cleared bin is going to hold the Leappad and leapseter extras ( these two things are mostly in my car but with so many cartridges and books they do need their own home)

Have we always been so conservative with toys?.. yes..but maybe a bit more at times

Could I afford more?.. Yes we are quite well off ( and feel blessed for it)

So why not more toys? ( we get asked this all the time).. the flat fact is that today's toys ( in general) lead to dull children.. dull in the sense that they have little free thought that is not placed there by advertisers. It's taken 15+ years of parenting to see this and then reading some new studies that came across my husbands desk ( he is a shrink).. With all other things being equal.. children with less toys and a restriced amount of televions veiwing ( I think it was less than 30 minutes a week) are brighter and more willing to make up games, read and relate than kids with an over abundance of toys and television.

When I think of this in it's historical light this makes so much sense.. Laura Ingles was happy just to own a doll of her own, most kids were over joyed to own 1 book , a boy with a pocket knife was a happy boy.... we ask so often when we have gone wrong with kids these days.. maybe we need not look farther than their own playrooms and the toys we have put there????


    Bookmark   March 16, 2005 at 8:20PM
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Well Said Maddiemom6.

You live the way we (DH and I) aim to live in our life. We are by far doing near as well as you are right now. But we aim to limit the toys and limit the tv and encourage the creativity.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2005 at 10:26PM
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Thanks Ginger... It can be so hard!.. the one thing we are over board on is books.. our library is filled ( a room with one whole wall of floor to ceiling bookcases!).. but some how books just feel differnt to me but there also has to be a limit.. so at this point its the bookcases that say what goes.. so for each new book we bring in one must go out.. ack that is hard. WIth over 1000 books you would think it would be easier. But as the kids age we pll "baby" books out.. and those that were dud-gift books.. so we can still add more... but at some point I have to got get a grip! :)

Of course that does not count library books ( 30-50 a month)they have their own place so we can keep track of them snce when we don't the fines get WAY out of hand.

Maddiemom, who is actually thinking of rebuilding her under stair area for better ( more attractive) use since the plastic bins are getting on my last nerve. ( this is really a laugh given that we are in the middle of a whole house renovation so it's sort of like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic at this point ;-)

    Bookmark   March 17, 2005 at 10:59AM
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Boy this thread is coming back to life.

I'm not big on controlling tv or what toys my daughter plays with. Laura Ingles was happy with her doll b/c that's all there really was to have.

I understand that many kids do own tiys they rarely play wuth. My daughter seems to have a very diverse interest & almost anything she owns she plays with. The few items I was looking to purge, i.e. some cars & baby books I decided to keep once I started sitting for a 3 yr old boy & a 1 yr old girl.

I also think creativity is something you're born with & some kids are just couch potatoes & less imaginative. I have the tv on when I'm home, as background noise so my daughter is accustomed to it being on but other than when she's relaxing late in the afternoon or easing into her mornings she rarely sits & stares at it. She keeps busy all the time vs. the 3 yr old boy I watch refuses to play on his own or with my daughter (wants me there all the time - annoying) or else he just wants to lay on the couch watchng tv. Today I set up coloring for St Patty's day - my daughter 1st colored her pages & then proceeded to draw pictures of lepricauns (?sp) on her own while he refused to do any of it. His fine motor sills are terrible b/c he does nothing that would encourage improvement. So my point is that each child is an individual & while my daughter has many toys & is involved in school & several activities she is also very independent, creative & has great imagination.

I guess whatever works for each family is the way to go.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2005 at 12:02PM
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Indeed!... Whatever works for each family is the way to go.. but SO many families are struggling to keep up with toys, money and space that it seems wise to note that children don't NEED all of that stuff and can be very happy with lots less. It's wonderful that your daughter plays with all of her stuff and if you can afford to buy all of it, maintain it and stil be on track with the rest of your goals (be it whatever.. fully funded savings plans, paid off automobiles etc) then life is good.. and jolly on! But the thing is most people are not on track. The sad fact is that most people are so in debt beacuse of "stuff" that they are one paycheck away from dead broke. When I talk with young families about such things I try to explain that still having the heat on and a roof over their head really does mean more to kids than one more Polly Pocket ( added to the 20 others that are already there) is ever going to. and yet the pressure these parents feels is rather a burden that distracts from a goal of peace. The peace of knowing that if you were out of work tomorrow that you could still pay the bills for 6 months (without using credit cards or violating primary long term savings)... to get past the point where parents feel that they will not be loved by their child unless they buy them yet one more thing. My post really had little to do with how *you* choose to live your life. I make the assumption that you are a grown up.. you have provided for your child and family in a way that means that her toys have not meant that you have have not given up such things as savings and debt reduction. It's more the culture of pressure ( on both kids and parents)that is my thought in the matter. Not that kids should not have toys.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2005 at 1:16PM
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I agree w/you Maddiemom!

"I'm not big on controlling tv or what toys my daughter plays with. Laura Ingles was happy with her doll b/c that's all there really was to have."

So because there's more to have, we should have it all? Where's the "I wish" in life. If you took at least half the toys away little by little, would your daughter know those toys were gone? She plays w/them because she has them. But would she miss them if they were not there?

BIG things happen in kids minds between ages 3 & 4. THis could and I'm not saying it will, backfire. She has it all, she'll want it all. You're not assuming she's paying attention to the quantity. She is.

All the time spent organizing and money spent buying organizing things for toys, what could we as parents be doing to better use our time with our children?

While your dd has a diverse interest in toys, will it always take that quantity of toys, games or "things" to keep her interest?

Your dd may not be laying on the couch staring at the tv, but I can make a pretty good guess that she's listening to it all. My 4-yr old will be doing something else...not paying any attention to the tv or me and if I say something or turn off the tv...(I have questioned her) she won't like it, but she can recite what was said, me or the tv.

"I also think creativity is something you're born with & some kids are just couch potatoes & less imaginative".

I don't totally agree w/this. To think that this child you babysit is like this isn't fair. I think parents have a huge impact on this. It's really too early to tell with him. And I think all kids have a great imagination, but do they choose to use it or do the parents unknowingly stifle their imagination? Clearly he's a tv watcher....couch potato, because his parents allow it, which in turn rots the brain. How and why would he have or use his imagination if he didn't have to?

He's the way he is for a reason. Your daughter is the way she is for her reasons. Doesn't make him or your daughter any less annoying. They're just different, w/different parents who have different values.

We're all just saying there's more to life than tons of toys. But you may want to ask yourself in a year or two..what and how many toys will she require to be imaginative? You're not seeing the whole picture now, she's 3. She IS listening to the TV, she IS used to background noise and she IS used to having it all. WHat will happen when she's 20 and moving out on her own and she has nothing to start with? Are you going to buy her it all? If you think that's a long ways a way, and a different subject, contact me in 17 years.

Be careful.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2005 at 4:54PM
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You're probably right that my daughter wouldn't miss the toys if they're gone although I do like her having them & my getting them for her as long as they are being enjoyed. I had allot of toys & clothes, etc. growing up & yet I left home at age 18 with nothing & no help & have done alright & have learned you need to work for what you've got & it's a struggle. Yes I had some set-bacs along the way but I learned.

You ask if I'll buy it all for her when she's 20 & leaving home. While I won't be able to that I do feel that if I could help her out to get started I will b/c it is so difficult these days for younger families to get their feet off the ground. Certainly I can have a spoiled child from it, but she can learn that lesson when she crosses it.

I didn't say she wasn't hearing the tv. I know she is, but I don't mind as long as her brain isn't being fried by just staring at a tv & no other activity all day. In the case of this boy if I noticed that my child were so behind on certain skills I think I'd start to wonder what the cause was.

I definitley agree with you that parental involvement has something to do with it. I imagine if I found my daughter doing nothing but staring at a tv all day I'd shut it off too. I imgine this boy's parents don't mind & probably don't notice that he's not developing properly b/c he's doing nothing all day long. The part that yes IS annoying to me is that b/c he's so accustomed to either just watching tv or having activities done WITH him he has not acquired any independence or creativity. I'm not used to my daughter being "up my butt" all day long b/c she's able to use her imagination - whether it be through toys or not & keep herself busy when I'm not the one playing with her.

I'm not disagreeing though that tv CAN be damaging or that many toys are a necessity. Hey, while I had allot of toys growing up, other than Barbies & paper dolls do you know my things to play with listening to music, drawing & browsing & clipping Spiegel catalogs.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2005 at 5:17PM
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I read about a study comparing creative play of children with way too much and children who had few toys.These two groups proved to be the most creative in the study.Both outstripped the creative play of the children with an average number of toys.
My observation as a housecleaner is that people(not just children)who own more things than they can possibly care for are overwhelmed and burdened by keeping the posessions organized,clean and tidy.There are many people who feel a sense of failure because of their inability to organize,to stay focussed on one task(because to do one thing they must move five others).While it is remotely possible to raise daughters destined to marry nobility and wealth ,and live in a situation where hired help cleans and organizes their possesions,you may also want to prepare them for the real world where they may be expected to do these things for themselves,and teach their children to as well.
Personal experience-hubby comes from the family of too much holiday giving,and I am from the opposite spectrum large family with few toys.For years his family has overgifted our children.Most of the toys don't get played with.My 21 year old daughter remembers the huge number of picture perfect outfits down to the bow and socks with distaste.My husband has finally come around to my way of thinking and we buy less toys.In the case of birthdays I am finding that spending part of the money on an outing or memorable experience with a group of the child's friends is more rewarding in the long term(a camping trip ,renting boats,a trip to the zoo...)
I have a widowed client with two young daughters who own every toy I've ever seen.He doesn't know how to coral the mess,and of coarse,neither do the kids.They are now progressing to tossing food and candy wrappers under the furniture with the toys.I'm hoping that someone enters their life and gives them some help soon.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2005 at 9:04PM
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Having kids is all about a bit of disorganized chaos. If I wanted to live in a perfectly organized house, I doubt I would have kids. A house cluttered with toys means kids have been there, and it makes me smile.

As far as the financial crisis a lot of families are in, I don't know that I agree that it was caused by allowing just one more Polly Pocket into the house.

This forum is about organizing. That's why this is being discussed - not because we're suffering from some overindulgence problem.

We can discuss cleaning out our closet on this forum but no one stops by to critique someone for buying too many clothes.

My own opinion, I don't just go out and buy as much as I can afford. But I also don't think I should tell my daughter she can only have what can fit in a 3 by 3 spot.

Instead, I teach her to declutter, sell her older or outgrown toy items at our garage sale and save up some money, donate good toys to the church, and keep things picked up, so she learns good habits.

(We are close friends with a family with 5 kids. I admire her and her husband. Their house is controlled, organized chaos, the kids are vibrant and happy, and they have a lot more than a 3x3 spot of toys. How does one meet the differing creative needs of 5 kids of diverse ages, gender, personality and interest by limiting so drastically? Toys in general are not so expensive as to jeopardize the roof over one's head. In my case they are often given to DD as gifts. What do your kids do at birthday time? Surely they get more than a small amount of gifts?).

    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 8:37AM
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From personal experience I totally agree with you that having too much stuff, for myself and also my child that you're absolutely right I spend so much time finding space for things & it's a constant clean up. I do feel like I juggle things in my life from one space to another & yes taking things out & putting things away is always a pain, although everything does have a home, but not everything is so easily accessible.

I do often wish life weren't always so busy & that I felt more accomplished at the end of the day. That to do list, often consisting of buying more things & oranizing what I have is never ending.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 8:38AM
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I think what some of us our saying is that there's a pretty good percentage rate that if you overindulge your children in materialistic things,you are leading your life that way as well, either in the way of living to the max of your means or in a superficial environment. For many, this breeds in other aspects of our daily living of having to have it all. We need to make sure we have the most important things first and it doesn't require anything materialistic. This includes a good savings for what if's, children's college funds or savings plan, etc. And for what purpose do we want to have all these things? Kids surely don't need it. In addition it teaches our children to buy, buy, want, want.

The thinking of having to have it all, toys, clothes, the best and coolest parties for the kids (how many are they going to remember), the best clothes for them, the amount of shoes, the best house, whatever it may be far supercedes what is and should really be important...the family, the children. Some people have it all...all the things you can buy, so what.

But I suppose this should be in a different topic. Just my 2 cents for what it's worth.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 9:55AM
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I have the best and coolest parties for my kids, and by gum they had BETTER remember them! They do at this moment remember the ones that came before--the Harry Potter party (where we played Quidditch in the living room by making a goal post out of a wire hanger, a broomstick, and the cat's scratching post!), the carnival party, the dinosaur party w/ the bubblewrap "lava" obstacle course, the castle cake, etc.

But we also spend DAYS, sometimes even WEEKS, inventing them, creating them, planning them, making them together. So I'm thinking they will remember them. They certain do now! And very soon, the age of having those sorts of parties is going to be gone, so I hope to create the memories while they're both young enough to care, and old enough to remember.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 10:32AM
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Talley Sue those parties sounds great! And I definitely think they'll remember them & even more so b/c you involve them in the planning stage. I don't know why people think their kids won't remember all those experiences.

While those material things are not necessities I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting or being able to to give your children as much as you can. And there is nothing wrong with wanting or having the best you can AFFORD. Since when was that a bad thing? There is an odd assumption that if you can provide these things then something else must be sacrificing, such as savings. While we are not wealthy & yes none of these things are easy to come by I do believe that you can have those things without sacrificin things that are a priority to me. For example, we wait for certain things in our home so we can do them exactly the way we want & withoutinucring debt & we do have savings (sure we could have more) & have saved more than most people for her future/college by her age, but I like giving my daughter everything I can now. Life is too short & this is the way we choose to enjoy it. I also find it hard to believe that so many people have created this politically correct home environment they'd like to let others believe they have - doing only what studies suggest, i.e eating properly, little tv watciing, lot sof physical activity, not ever overindulging, children with perfect manners & values, a large savings account..... If we're going to believe studies it's hard to believe that just abotu everyone on this forum is leading that sort of life b/c US studies say that most people live paycheck to paycheck, don't eat properly, haven't saved enough for retirement or college, are overweight, lack physical activity, childen do't have stable family life or enough parental involvement.... It's easy to be so perfect "in writing". I also believe that many people who can't do what I do for my child are big on taking a stand against my type of lifestyle beause they can't & not so much b/c they wouldn't.

Everyone wants more for their kids than they had - I had lots of toys, tons of clothes, HUGE Xmases, wonderful family vacations, & nice home based bdy parties BUT I lived in a tiny apt where my sister & I shared a 6x9 ft bedroom & we didn't do much in terms of outside activities. In turn I give my daughter what I had plus she started her education early, is involved in several ouside activities & our parties for the most part are a step above what I had. Hopefully my daughter will be able to give her children more than she had when it's her turn.

I don't think the STUFF should or does take the place of teaching values or a quality family life. That would mean all rich people who have lots of fancy things are all evil & lead terrible family lives & don't have any values? I doubt it. Materialism really has nothing to do with how you lead your life in terms of being a good person or what you teach you kids in terms of values or how you treat others. You can be a very contributing person to society & your family.

All this though can give her something to work towards. If she wants to live the lifestyle she was accustomed to growing up in or better then she'll know she has to get a good education, work hard, save & get those things that are important to her little by little (things didn't come quickly to us). If she wants less & is happy that's fine too. That's what I wish for my daughter.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 1:38PM
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(We are close friends with a family with 5 kids. I admire her and her husband. Their house is controlled, organized chaos, the kids are vibrant and happy, and they have a lot more than a 3x3 spot of toys. How does one meet the differing creative needs of 5 kids of diverse ages, gender, personality and interest by limiting so drastically? Toys in general are not so expensive as to jeopardize the roof over one's head. In my case they are often given to DD as gifts. What do your kids do at birthday time? Surely they get more than a small amount of gifts?).

As noted I also have five kids at home, but due to diverse ages I would say that only 2 of them are really "toy" kids anymore ( ages 3 and 6) with the other three being 11, 13 and 15. So toys fit neatly into the 3x3 area. I have posted a photo of our toy area on my blog at the personal request of another forum member. As to meeting their needs. The little kids have their toys in the space under the stairs, but the older kids keep their stuff in their rooms, but this is stuff like electric guitars and personal craft stuff ( my daughter is a knitter, one of my son builds models) So between all of this and storage for homeschooling things ( books, art supplies, frogs for disection) really that is all we need. Of course like any family things do get out of hand at times and that is why I organize.

When it comes to gifts we are pretty strict since I need more stuff in this house like I need a hole in the head. So for Christmas the kids get three gifts each ( 1 big, 2 small) and other gifts ( from family and friends) are such things as passes to gooney golf, movie tickets, blockbuster cards, magazine subs and out door items. I am very lucky that my circle of friends incudes many who feel the same way so we often gather to get things that might not otherwise happen, or at least know what each wants. SO yes.. all of my kids "needs" are met.. but I think it comes down to distinguishing between "needs" and "wants".

At this very moment my two youngest are building a kite from sticks they got off a tree and some left over Tyveck house wrap, my daughter is knitting a purse for one of her customers, my 11 year old has taken apart the VCR to see about fixing it and my 15 year old is wiring up his fencing weapon for a weekend competition. So to my eye.. i don't see a big need to rush off to the toy store any time soon so I think 3x3 is enough for us! ;-)

Here is a link that might be useful: toys space

    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 1:52PM
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Oh My God Maddiemom6! I love it, it looks soothing and sane... AND...not only that, do you know your beautiful bathroom was just posted on my favorite deco site? I'll bet you are on there too!??????

    Bookmark   March 18, 2005 at 9:49PM
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Oh my.... where is my bathroom posted???????

    Bookmark   March 19, 2005 at 8:44AM
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I sent you an email on where it's posted.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2005 at 10:35AM
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Such a thoughtful thread. And too good to lose!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2013 at 12:06PM
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