What do I mean by toy battle? I’m sure you’ve been to those houses where not only do the kids have seemingly endless toys, but they are EVERYWHERE.
Now, this is not a judgment post. This is not Marie Kondo saying sometimes her house gets messy when you KNOW it doesn’t. I have plenty of day to day messes to worry about, but toys is not one of them.
I’m not a grinch, my kids have toy and they play with them. But we set ourselves with a few toy rules to ensure our house is not taken over by plastic junk.
Keep it minimal
Be familiar with what your kids have. Before birthdays or holidays we purge because we know more is coming. It should be apparent what your kids play with and what they don’t. You could also ask your teacher friends what education type toys are worth keep, and what aren’t (electronics). Some families half their toys and rotate them through the year which is another great idea. As your children get older they can be involved in the process. If they are too young now or too emotionally immature, do it outside of their eyes. There have been times where my daughter hadn’t given a second glance to something until it was in the donation pile. No need to traumatize them. And keep a balance, sometimes there are toys we find no value in that our children love, so be reasonable.
When having dinner with friends at our house, an older son pulled out every single toy in our house during a tantrum. They soon left, but within 10 minutes our house was completely cleaned up (of toys, not real life). I always tell my husband, this is the goal. If an adult could get it all away quickly, that makes clean up realistic for our young children. Toys are put away when a transition happens or when a new game starts. With less mess there is less power struggle, so even if a tantrum throws down I know that those toys will get cleaned up quickly, even if we have to come back to it.
Be an example
Avoiding power struggle is my current parenting goal. My children regularly see my husband and I cleaning and so they are more interested in doing what they know adults do. If we’re really having a challenging moment, we offer to “help.” Although it may see enabling, when we say, “let me help you clean up.” Work beside them, children are more likely to “take the bait” and clean their mess. It also makes it go quicker so you can both move on. There’s a balance to this too, don’t let your much more capable children play you.
A place for everything
Find a system and make it work for you. When things are consistently put where they go you don’t have to organize with your kids. If my two year old knows all the specific places for her items there’s no reason your older kids can’t. If you really need to be organized, labels or pictures can really help older children. We have 4 cubby cubes with toys (one for the baby), an art tub, a few baskets, large items on a shelf, a rocking horse, a dress up rack and…that’s it. There are a few larger toys, dump tucks, riding scooter things and toys that live outside. Stuffed animals live on my daughter’s bed or in a net and aside from those, toys do not live in the nursery, books do.
I continuously find that the less we have or the more simple things tend to be the more time we have to focus on other things.