Tip Tuesday — Toy Story 3: The Mama’s Revenge

Today’s topic is brought to you by Jessica of Sweet Mama Entropy, who gave some great tips on how to organize and store toys back in March.  The toys truly do seem to multiply but I don’t see them doing much to replenish my home. 

My number one favorite tip is to get rid of stuff.  Consider happy meal toys and party favor novelties disposable.  Once their charm has worn off, send them packing.  If the charm has worn off for you but not your child if it’s within her field of vision, send it packing in the dead of night. 

My mom used to go through our toys with us every few months and let us keep a certain number of stuffed animals.  The rest had to be donated to Goodwill.  We had a really great Christmas one year where we were heavily involved in a used teddy bear donation program.  We gathered the bears and helped wash and brush them to be given to other children.  It really helped us feel better about giving up our toys.

Integrate some toys into the décor of your home, rather than letting them become the décor of your home.  Buy nice baskets or storage ottomans or even cover cardboard boxes with pretty fabric.  If you can keep your entire house from looking like the Romper Room while still allowing your kids to feel like they can play somewhere besides their bedroom, I think you’re on the right track.

Then a tip for another day is getting your kids to clean up their toys.  At this point, I am using the old “you clean it up or I’ll clean it up into a trash bag in the garage” shtick.  I guess it works for lots of people.  One 3-year-old in Laylee’s ballet class picked up a toy in the waiting room today and said, “We have this!  Well…  It’s in the trash.  Well… Actually it’s out in the garage because we were in trouble of it.”

Hmmm…. So I’m not the only one to use this tactic?  I once used it on a college roommate.  No joke.  We would put all of her stuff in a garbage bag in the laundry room.  I don’t remember what we exactly thought gave us the right to do this or how she accepted it but I do remember that rather than clean up the stuff out of the laundry room, she would go in there and retrieve one item at a time as needed.  Then she’d leave it on the floor, the kitchen counter, my bed, and I’d put it back in the garbage bag.  Very strange.

Please share your tips for controlling toys, forcing your children to clean like slaves, or tormenting your college roommates.

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27 Responses to Tip Tuesday — Toy Story 3: The Mama’s Revenge

  1. Tess says:

    oh the stories of tormenting college dormmates – but this is Tip Tuesday not Torture Tuesday so I will restrain myself 🙂 happy tuesday from Tess

  2. Valeri says:

    I’ve given up trying to contain so many toys, so we are on a thinning out mission. After our last move, we had all these big dish packing boxes left over. We put a child’s name on each one and told them if they filled it FULL with toys that they no longer loved/played with, we’d give them $20 each. They EACH donated over $100 in toys to charity. When they were smaller, we did a garage sale and let them keep the money for anything of theirs that we sold.

  3. Peter says:

    I have a friend who got so fed up he took the toy box and dumped it. Then he put the toys that were on the floor in it. Nobody ever noticed that half their toys were gone.

  4. I packed up all my kids toys because we were moving. Two years later we actually moved. Fast forward another year and I still haven’t had time to unpack those boxes.

  5. Jen says:

    My daughter enjoys picking up the toys so much more since we learned the Clean Up Song at play group. “Clean Up! Clean up! Everybody, everywhere! Clean up! Clean up! Everybody do your share!” I think it makes cleaning up more like a game and less like work.

  6. Suzi says:

    I did the “pick up the kids’ toys and hide them away if they won’t pick them up” and then, two months later, we ended up buying one of the toys again because I had forgotten I put it up and the kids loved and used it. So if you’re going to put them away, remember that you did!

    A friend has her kids go through their toys after every birthday and Christmas. They can only keep a certain number of toys total. So if they get more, they have to give some away. This means that, sometimes, a new toy goes to the thrift store. But it supports a battered women’s shelter, so that’s probably a good thing, too.

  7. surcie says:

    Now that my son knows I have a small bag of Jelly Bellies in the cupboard, he’ll ask if he can have one about once per day. I seize the opportunity: “Only if you help Mama pick up the toys in the den first.” In short, my toy-pickup solution promotes tooth decay.

  8. Susan says:

    I used to put my ROOMMATE in the laundry room. Is that wrong?

  9. EmLouisa says:

    My kid was totally into this inflatable rocket that we got in a happy meal. (Actually, the “rocket” was a sword but like I was going to explain that to HIS 2 1/2 year old little mind. Let him think it’s a rocket, dang it!) Anyway, it got a hole in it and kept deflating. Finally in the dark of night we disposed of it.

    There were big tears the next day as he looked for it. He asked everyday for a week for that thing. I felt like a big liar when I told him I didn’t know what happened to it. I think he knew something was up. Poor kid.

  10. I printed up a simple chart off of my computer, one side has the days of the week and the other side has large blank squares. I also bought some of those shiny star stickers and some smiley face stickers at Walmart. Each night before bedtime our boys pick up all their toys and put them away. Everyone who participates gets to pick out a sticker and put it in that day’s empty square. This is apparently the most exciting thing on the planet because when they start whining about picking up their toys, I simply say, “So I guess no one wants to put any stickers up tonight.” Suddenly they’re running to the toy closet with armloads full and smiles on their faces!

  11. Just me says:

    I quit sorting toys into their own special bins. I think it was a bit OCD to only let balls be with other balls. So now I try not to discriminate. I throw it all in together and the kids sort through it when they need something. I also made a coffee table with doors so that all the stuff that used to live on the living room floor can now hide in there.
    keep your toy storage simple, and easy for your kids to get out and put away.

  12. Mary says:

    I purchased 5 large clear plastic tubs with lids. Each one had a weekday written on the side. I sorted every toy we had, put the parts all together with the right pieces, etc. I then pitched all the odds and ends that no longer had a home. I put a variety of toys in each tub and pulled out Monday’s tub on Monday, Tuesday’s tub on Tues. and so on. This cleaned up our very small den by not having EVERY toy out at the same time, and made clean up at the end of the day much easier-everything out just went into the tub. Added bonus was that my daughter never got bored since everything was in constant rotation. Now that she’s almost 3, she gets to pick which tub comes out on which day. I know this sounds like I am a huge control freak, (and quite possibly, I am-I was a teacher pre-children), but this majorly helped with the clutter!

  13. My toy tip is to let your kids take toys to the park, where they are conveniently lost, broken, or forgotten.

    You have me totally excited about Time Out For Women. Are you really going?

  14. Tiffany says:

    This is something I know something about:

    1. Happy Meal, party favor toys, etc.: I pick them up and put them in a special box high in the closet. I use them to fill pinatas for my kids’ parties. There is always tons of variety and the kids love it. Plus, it saves the kids from going home with a huge sack of candy.

    2. We rotate toys every few months. I have a couple of HUGE boxes in the closet. They each hold about the same amount as our toy box. We divide the toys into the two boxes and our toybox. When the toys that are currently out aren’t being played with anymore or as a special treat, we rotate the toys. Everything out goes in the box and one box gets emptied into the toybox. We now have a great new selection of toys to play with.

    3. Like everyone else. . . Just get rid of them. There are plenty of daycares and other moms that would love to have your toys. List them on Freecycle, send an email out to all your young mommy friends, etc. (Even if you really want your kid to like Legos, Lincoln logs, baby dolls, etc.) If they don’t like them, don’t keep them.

  15. Squishy says:

    I’m a big fan of mailing off stuff to your friends. I believe it was a few months ago when a certain Daring Young Mom decided to de-clutter and I received a lovely large red tape dispenser. I think it is not a coincidence that the tape dispenser saved my butt today (considering the theme of Tip Tuesday) in a last minute potential shipping disaster.

  16. Lauren says:


    When I was a freshman in college, I duct taped my roommate’s stuffed animals and pillows to the ceiling because they’d fall out of her bunk bed and she wouldn’t pick them back up again.

    All of life’s problems = solved.

  17. Lauri says:

    just a fair warning – out of complete frustration (ok, I’ll admit, ANGER) this summer I packed up every single toy, picture, stuffed animal … basically everything except for her bed (yes, the bedspread and shams) was packed up and put in the garage. I thought this would last 2 days before she would freak out and want everything back and we would have a serious discussion about responsibility and cleaning up after oneself …

    NOPE – her comment – “I really like not having anything to clean up, it gives me more time with my books at night” …

    MAJOR BACKFIRE – a month later I returned the decorative stuff to her room, but the toys, dolls and stuffed animals are still in totes in the garage!

  18. Sarah says:

    My friend put all except maybe five of her kids’ toys in another person’s storage for a month because they broke a bedroom window (they are 4 and 5). no word yet on whether that helped anything.

    I rotate the toys in and out of the closet on a fairly regular basis. We also give away lots of toys all the time, as soon as they grow out of them.

  19. I use a ransom bucket. If any of my three girls (ages 10, 9, & 4.5) forget to put away their shoes, toys, back packs, etc. they go into the ransom bucket. I charge $0.50 per item. I am amazed how fast this technique worked. It cost them each about $4 before they realized I was not kidding. They always look around before leaving the room for the night, because I’m unforgiving.

  20. Nicole says:

    We rotate toys too, and that has been my favorite tactic so far. Every 2 or 3 days we get a few new toys out of the storage room, and put the ones little man was using back. Its great because every time we rotate the toys its like he gets new toys, little man loves it.

  21. Mama T. says:

    As of two weeks ago, we have a new rule for my step-daughter: Anything left out or left on the floor of her room when she goes back to her mom’s house is taken away.

    It was waaaaaaay out of control. She’d never pick up after herself and her room literally had about a 12 inch path to walk around in and her closet sat empty. I had bought numerous organization things and helped her set it up before, but then she’d fall right back into the toss it wherever mode. Well, Grandma came for a visit and had had enough and helped her clean up and organize her room. The new rule was enacted.

    I would have loved to been able to be the one to make the rule, but being the step-mom, my say is limited and I’ve always left it up to my hubby to deal with those issues.

  22. Lisa says:

    I’ve done most of the above over my 17 years of motherhood, but what I’ve done lately that seems to work for me is I’ve separated all the toys into a catagories: Beanie Babies, blocks, mega blocks, puzzles, misc., etc., and put them into a rubbermaid bin that is labeled appropriately. I keep them lined up against a wall in my office and they are only allowed to have one bin out at a time, then clean up whatever they have played with. Each bedroom has toys in them in baskets/boxes. The girls room has all the girly dolls and dress up clothes. The boys room has all the legos, kinex, toy tools, etc. Those toys are NOT allowed out of the bedrooms!! I do have a small tub of infant toys for the baby that I keep in the living room, and a small decorative wicker basket of miscellanious toys incase company comes over, etc. Our toys are not always in perfect order, but this method has made it easier for me to know what to do with all the toys. Yes, we still purge occassionally. When I can’t get the lids on the boxes, it’s time. LOL!

  23. Brooke says:

    I think the thing I heard most growing up was “Put it away, or throw it away.” That seemed to do the trick. As we got older, our toy problem turned into a clothing problem. Too many clothes. We then have a rule which I (try to) stick to today: for every clothin article we buy, we have to donate 2 to Goodwill. That helps keep the closet a bit tidier, and up to date!

  24. Here is my tip for all parenting dilemmas. Don’t give your kids more responsibility than they can handle. If they can’t keep their toys picked up themselves by the time they are, let’s say, 3, then they have too many toys.

    Can I just ask why people are buying their kid so many toys that they have to get rid of them? I haven’t bought my kids toys for years and my oldest is only 8. We don’t have TV either and yet they always have plenty to do.

    I know. I’m weird!

  25. KYouell says:

    Oh, people aren’t buying their kids that many toys, the grandparents are! Dang the grandmas and their “he MUST have X, Y and Z” — why can’t he keep those things at their house? I thought that a “if it doesn’t fit in the toy box then it goes to charity” rule would work, but The Biscuit isn’t able to stand or open the toy box, so it’s just a coffin for stuffed animals at this point. The toys he actually plays with live around it at night and spread out in the living room by day. Sigh.

  26. Jessica says:

    Hey! Thanks for getting my tip question to a larger viewing audience. This is great!

  27. Margaret says:

    Lauren just kills me. I think we should ALL use duct tape more often.

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