HELP. I'm Drowning In a Sea of Plastic

So I gave the boys THE SPEECH yesterday.

You know the one.

We were in the bowels of their rooms, chin deep in board game pieces, headless lego men, and 3 inch light sabers.  None of which were where they were supposed to be.

And because I had already spent 46.34 hours hunched over toilets scrubbing up the aftermath of living with 4 men, my nerves were slightly frazzled. 

So I spouted off, "Boys, it is almost Christmas, and I will remember that this is how you take care of your things when I'm shopping and discussing gift options with Santa.  You can't take care of the things you have, what in the world makes you think you need a 54,983 piece lego set?  If this is how it is going to be, then all you'll get under the tree are books and underwear!"

Yes.  I said it.

Knowing good and well that we'll buy them for them anyway.  But it definitely seemed like the right thing to say at the time. 

And then I discussed just throwing all of their toys away....knowing good and well we wouldn't ever do that either.

So, after going through the motions of sorting and reorganizing everything back out into proper bins and containers, otherwise known as HELL, I was left wondering What in tarnation's uncle can we do to make this whole process easier?  Because, bless their hearts, they come by it honest. Although I would never tell them that.

So, I propose a question, dear readers. 


We do the whole "if you get it out, put it away" thing....the only problem is that they don't put it where it goes.  Because apparently it is easier to just chunk everything in a basket, then taking the time to sort everything back out.

And we have now graduated to toys with multiple (did I say multiple?) pieces.  Lego sets that need to be kept together, Star Wars guys that need to be kept with their hodgepodge pieces, and board games that come with no less than 54 dozen pieces or cards.  So, it isn't as easy as just heaving all of the preschool toys into a toybox anymore.  It just isn't.

So....help me out.  What do you do to keep the teeniest assortment of parts and pieces together? 

I welcome any ideas.

And just to show you my appreciation....I'm throwing in a $10 giftcard to Walmart to a random commenter.  Just because. 

So....leave me your best organizational idea or tip (or 20 tips, if you want!), and your comment or comments will be entered into the drawing.  I'll choose, by random selection, the winning comment Wednesday evening (October 7) around 7:00 p.m. (central time).

Go ahead.  Hit me with your best shot.

The rascals will appreciate it, too, since they need to figure out how to keep their mess under control so that they can get those new lego sets for Christmas that they think they aren't getting, but we all know that they really will.



Jessica said...

I don't really know what to tell you except, when you figure it out, Let me know! My best idea is to invest in wall unit of bin shelving (or have your handy dandy husband build it) and a label maker.

Tiffani said...

Well, hot dog, am I first?!

Okay, here's the deal w/ our Legos (and I'll send you a pic)...I bought one HUGACIOUS container, I mean huge. All pieces to every set go in the bucket. However, I keep all the instruction booklets to each set in a large ziploc bag...once he's built the set he likes to reconfigure anyway..so that may help.

Also, I'm all about containers that have a lids and that way stuff doesn't start vomiting out of them...Connor knows if the lid won't fit, he bes' get it to. The buckets are specific but most times as long as stuff is IN them and the lid is shut.

We have little rubbermaid shelves in his closet for big trucks and board games (although I tend to keep most of those in the school area).

My other fave thing is a Hot Wheels holder that hangs over the back of the door and has little pockets for the Hot Wheels..it's the BEST. And, it's around $12 at where else? WM!

If I think of anything else, I'll come back!!

Mandy said...

It is always a constant battle, plus, we still don't have that many toys with lots of tiny pieces, but here are a few things I do. Keep sets together in Ziploc bags and/or small laundry bags (you can get 3 for a $1 at Dollar Tree) and then keep the small bags in bins with 'like' toys and store the bins on shelves or just put them in one of those Rubbermaid carts with drawers in a closet. We also don't keep out all our toys at the same time. We rotate and every couple of months I put some things always and get some 'new' things out.
I know some people that have one of the tall rubbermaid storage drawer things and every drawer is for a different Lego set, so you just pull out the drawer, play with your Legos, then put the drawer back in its spot when you are done.
Hope that helps!

Kendra said...

Plastic shoe boxes with a photo of the toy/s on front saves my sanity. That, and he knows if he doesn't put every part back in the right box I'll nag him then beat him with a wire hanger. And THAT'S just with Wayne's stuff! Just kidding, but I do use boxes labeled with a pic and I've started Sam early with a place for everything and everything in it's place. Not graduated to Legos yet, so that may go out the window by then!

Kendra said...

Oh, and an el-cheapo shoe bag that hangs over the back of a door works WONDERS with those little things. Label each pocket and VOILA! Off the floor and outta sight!

Amy Fulmer said...

Step one: Divide everything into three piles. broken/trash, pass on to local friend who teacher pre-k and rocks a treasure chest :), and we will die if mom gets rid of.

Step two: resort the we will die pile into three more piles of the same distinction.

Step three: repeat.

Step four: take pictures of said piles and send to grandparents/indulgent aunts and uncles who buy toys with lots 'o parts. Layer with guilt on wasted college savings.

Step five: distribute to appropriate locations.

***Wait approximately 3 days****

Step six: Cry. Because you will never get three boys to organize. They just don't care. Decide to use your time on something more substantial like ice cream and shows stashed up on the dvr.

Gretchen said...

"Okay...so I want a re-do b/c Kendra took both of my tips", she whines. ;)

Also...if there's a room the clutter can go to where you don't have to see it on a daily basis, that helps.

Andrea said...

Bins ~ shelves ~ labels.

We keep Barbie, her buddies, and all their fashion gear in bins. I get smallish ones (the size just bigger than the shoe box size) so it doesn't become unruly. I have commitment issues with labeling, so I don't always. But labeling will help the Rascals know where things go. The "label" could be the Lego picture from the box.

You can also get plastic drawers on wheels.

Bookshelves and dressers can be nice storage places for the bins.

Oh, I too threaten to bring many trash bags in the playroom and clean it out. I tell them I need more room to craft & not to tempt me!

Mich said...

When you find the secret of organization, let a sister know.

So, what you are saying, is that Auntie here needs to put legos and Star Wars figurines on her Christmas shopping list?! :)


Rubbermaid tubs???

Love ya!

Ginger@From The Cocoon said...

When my kids were younger, we used the plastic shoe boxes with lids for everything and labeled the box with my trusty label maker...that's the best I got...oh..and we made a rainy day box out of a larger rubbermaid tote and it was only for those "special" yukky days.

Now, if anyone has an idea how to keep teenagers rooms organized...I'm all ears!

Jim said...

So here's my question for your special blogpeeps. In our family is this "child" that has found it especially hard not to put stuff away and it results in stacks of papers playfully called "file-piles" that never get put into individual file folders where they can be quickly found, and books that never seem to get back on the shelf in their right places so that they can be discovered at a glance and used again.

The "child's playroom" begins to look like a storage closet rather than a neat study/office.

What can be done to help this "child" begin to put "his" stuff away neatly.

Yours truly,
The "child" - Jim-Dad

Anonymous said...

I'll have to come back after I think of my best tip. I need a minute to make my blood pressure come back down because you Tweeted you had a giveaway at your blog but when I get here and your post began with a description of the excess little pieces you have, I was worried that the prize was that you were going to send us your excess little pieces. I was conflicted with my desire to be supportive and my competitive nature versus my fear of more pieces invading my home. So glad you aren't awarding your stuff to anyone. Phew!

Alison said...

Suggestion #1 - Have a "clutter jail". At the end of every day (or a specified time of the day), anything not cleaned up goes in the clutter jail...some sort of bin or something. If they want to "bail" something out, they have to pay a price of some kind. For toddlers, a kiss works well. Not sure about older kids. Be creative. You could atually charge them a nickle or something if you're really trying to make it a rule.

Suggestion #2 - For kids who are really messy, try putting toys not picked up in a "rainy day" box that will be brought out later. The benefit here is that an old toy will seem new again. You can keep the box in sight for a certain number of days so that they're reminded why they can't play with that toy(s). The next time, they may be a little more concious of cleaning up.

Alison said...

oh yeah - This is an idea from a REALLY over organized mom - not myself. Have a toy checkout system. Put all toys in see through bins or labeled bins. Each kid gets a checkout card. They put the checkout card in an envelope somewhere near the toys or bring it to you to check the toy out. To get his card back and get another toy, he has to put the first one back. That seems a little...or a lot...overboard to me, but for her it worked.

imnotned said...

Not much help for ya from me. I tend to be more of a contributor to clutter than anything else.

The only semi-rule we have is the old "one-in, one-out" mantra. If a new toy/game/puzzle/multi-piece-tripping-hazard shows up, we try to have the kids choose an old one for the donation pile.

Which is easier said than done, since their grandmother lives with us, and thinks breathing is a good enough accomplishment to warrant a toy reward.

christy rose said...

We tried so many different things to organize all the toys. No matter what we used, unless I was the one helping to clean up when it was time, they never stayed that way. But the best thing that worked for the longest for us was the plastic drawers that you get at walmart or target that are small and big. We had several of them in the toy room and they helped keep things together the longest. But I still had to go in and help organize once in awhile.
Hope you figure out what helps you the most.

Tiffani said...

Man, some great ideas here!!

We have the rubbermaid cart on wheels in JuJu's closet...it's a good thing.

Whimzie's and NotNed get the best comment awards in my book, though!

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

Um, yeah, good luck keeping things separated!

I do what Tiffani does--BIG, BIG rubbermaid totes (clear) that ALL the legos, ALL the matchbox cars, ALL the Star Wars stuff goes in.

Beam Me Up Scotty said...

On a regular basis (every 6 months?), I get two trash bag and a very large container. I sift through all the toys. Everything that does not have all of the pieces or has broken pieces goes in the trash, unless they are fav items or gifts from family :). All of the toys that have all the pieces but are clearly not being played with go in the second trash bag (for good will). All the toys that are keepers go into the very large container to be sorted into bins.
I have colored bins from Target that you can write on with chalk. All Alex's stuff goes in blue bins. I then draw a pic of whatever belongs in the bin. Lily gets pink or red and either gets a picture or a name, based on which words she can read.
The kids are so used to this routine that often Lily will come to me with "something I don't need anymore, so you can give it to someone who needs it".
Now, to be honest, this is just an attempt to organize and keep the clutter to a minimum. Our house and playroom is usually considered chaotic.
Good luck. By the way, what do the kids want for Christmas....hehehe!!


Jessica said...

Target has the toy bin sorter units on sale for $45 this week. We bought one for Justus's toys the last time they were on sale.

Clear bins are also a good way to go. I used them to organize my music costume/prop closet last year.

lisa@littlesliceoflife said...

I used a big plastic drawer thingy from Wal-Mart for Barbie and Polly Pocket and all their paraphernalia back in the day.

Now I just mostly close the door to their rooms and don't look.

If I must go in, I wear a haz-mat suit.

Jennifer said...

So, I'm not much help for ya 'cuz I'm in the same Lego boat you are!!
Remember, the hubs built the big, pretty oak shelf to store said "put together" Legos on...and now they are all in pieces, in ziploc bags with half the pieces missiing!!

I am thinking about buying a cart on wheels with small drawers and dividing the legos into colors!! It will probably work for a day!!

Oh well...here's to TRYING to be organized!! :)

Becca~TimeWellSpent said...

I do the very same thing Tiff does with lego parts and then put the instructions in a ziplock bag. We also have a clear plastic shoe holder over the door like Kendra said for other small items. Basically clear plastic containers with lids that can stack, the kids can see which ones have legos or cars/trucks, doll/dress up clothes etc.
As for getting them to pick up and do a good job I usually just tell them they can't play Wii, help in the kitchen (they love helping), get on the computer or what ever it is they really to play with until things get picked up and then I look over their work. It's usually the outer corners of the room where things have been shoved or missed. I take all that, put it in a pile in the middle of the floor and then they pick that up. With Colton I usually have to direct him piece by piece!

Becky said...

So I'm a few days late but wanted to read this post for tips since we are finally old enough for the "real" legos!

My sister has 5 kids and I learned this from her. Her oldest 2 are boy ages 10 & 12 and they LOVE legos. She does like Tiffany w/legos and group things together in large tubs like Meredith. She also motivates them like Becca. Difference is if she goes in and everything is just thrown in together and mixed up...she will DUMP them all out in the floor and they have to do it correctly before playing vidoes games, etc. It works esp if they have lots of little peices to clean. It only took once or twice for them to learn thier lesson! Worked w/my neice too! I did this w/Ethan a few times and miraclously he was able to remember where things went!