Development FAQ: 24+ months – Learning

How do I keep all our toys tidy?

By the end of the day, my two-and-a-half-year-olds toys are scattered all over the house. I have run out of space and usually end up pushing them all into large boxes. He makes no attempt to help me clear up at the end of the day. How can I make life easier for us both?

Most children generally dislike disorder but need help in organizing their toys initially. Begin by emptying the large boxes and sorting everything out. As you find the scattered pieces put each toy together. There are many different storage boxes available now, often cheaply at “pound” stores. Buy a selection of these to suit your requirements. Use them to store train sets, bricks, construction sets, make-believe items such as tea sets etc. Using different coloured lids will help. Also label them clearly with both a name and picture of the contents to help you and your child tidy up.

Most children have too many toys, many they have grown out of. Whilst you are sorting everything out, put to one side things no longer played with. This can be a sensitive area with some children who want to hang on to everything. It may be better to do this when he is not around. Donate complete toys to charity or doctors waiting rooms unless you are storing them for younger siblings or relations.

Once all sorted, you now need to look where you keep the toys. Does he have a play room? Or does he spend a lot of time in his bedroom? Does he play in the family living area?

Divide his toys between the spaces. He may like a train set in his bedroom which can remain up from day to day for early morning play. Downstairs you may have cupboard or shelf space for games and puzzles. Try to have most things where your child can reach them alone. Once you have decided where his toys will be kept, put them away each day in the same place.

If you still feel he has too many things, rotate them. Keep three or four puzzles or games he is able to do on a shelf. Put the rest away out of sight, then swap them in a months time. This will keep his interest up, but also prevent too many things being available all at once.

Art and craft materials are best kept away from everything else and only used when an adult is present. You may like to provide paper and crayons for easy access. Stacking vegetable racks can be useful for this.

Now everything is organized how do you keep it that way?

Encourage your child to tidy up at regular intervals during the day. When he is ready to come downstairs in the morning, ask him to quickly put away what he has been playing with in his bedroom. During the day, before lunch or going out have another quick tidy up together. Setting an example by keeping your own things in order will help your child see how much easier life is, if everything has a place. At the end of the day let him know five or ten minutes before you want to begin tidying up, so he can bring his game to an end.

llow enough time for you both to do the job properly and turn it into a game.

hildren of this age have a sense of order and usually enjoy putting things back where they found them. By limiting the number of toys they have out at any one time, you can prevent a chaotic house by the end of the day.