I am sure I'm not alone when I say that my children do not like to clean up their toys. I am also sure I'm not alone when I say that my kids have somehow acquired more toys than I know what to do with. But most of all, I'm sure I'm not alone when I say I have an aversion to the cluttered look of having toys scattered everywhere around my house.
Having said this, I am usually pretty adept at organizing and storing things. However, when it came to my kids’ toys, they always ended up looking messy and sloppy. Don't get me wrong, I'd rather put up with a little mess than having a perfectly neat home with a couple of kids who look like zombies from watching too much television. Toys get really dusty inside if they aren't used very frequently. Although some parents like to cook, others like to vacuum, and others (mostly dads) like to iron clothes, I do not enjoy dusting. Over the years, I tried many different shelving/storage options. Some worked out, but most did not. I still had some miscellaneous items that I just didn't know where to put. My husband suggested the round file, however I'm a bit thriftier and try to get high mileage out of the toys we buy our children.
Clean up time seems to go more smoothly around my house when my kids don't have to think about where something belongs. Of course this also helps when they are trying to find something too. I had always seen toy boxes as a toy storage option, but for some reason it was later rather than sooner before I decided to invest in something more than a heavy duty cardboard box with a plywood top.
Toy boxes come in many different themes including princess or prince, pirate, or good old American made pine. The better toy boxes serve multiple purpose including storage, bench seat and playroom or bedroom decor. The tricky part is trying to get “buy in" from your child. I'd suggest asking them what they like or even showing them a few options. Even if they pick something that is not exactly what you love, they might use it more if they feel they had a part in the purchase. My daughter picked a floral decorated toy box to match her vanity. When a friend comes over they dive right into the unit and pull out dolls, art supplies, and stuffed animals. I am happy to say she loves it just as much today as she did when we first purchased it. Not only does she use it to clean up, but she uses it for a lot of other things too. Sometimes it is her baby's house, sometimes it is a pool for her sea animals (and no, thankfully she has never asked to fill it with water, she just pretends). Lastly, I love how it creates such an uncluttered look in her room. It worked so well for her that we bought one for our son too. Since he is a little older, I wasn't so sure the idea would be quite as appealing to him. Happily, he is also still using his. They are very versatile and because they are enclosed they really help to keep the dust out. Finally, we even got a 3rd one in the shape of a ball to store all of their balls. Over the years they had collected soccer balls and baseballs, basketballs and even a hairy ball, lots of little super balls, tennis balls. . . . And when the summer comes we toss in goggles, pool toys, and even extra towels. No wonder they're a classic - they're very practical and functional and have been very effective around our house.
Alycia Shapiro is Vice President in charge of product development for SensoryEdge. She has advocated for special needs children in order to get the services they require as they move forward in life. She is also the cofounder of SensoryEdge, a leading kids furniture and educational website.
You can visit her store to learn more about Toy Boxes and Sleeping Bags for Kids