If you have small children in the house I’m sure you know of the Toy Bunny phenomenon. You start out with a few toys in a living room, or play room. You turn the lights out and go to bed and they seem to multiply like, well, bunnies.
Toys filled a corner of the living room and often threatened to take over the entire room. When I told my three-year-old to put her toys away, they just got piled back in the corner with minimal organization since they really didn’t have a place where they belonged. Toys were brought out to play at random. I needed to be able to tell G-girl to put her toys away and have her know where away was. I also wanted a limit on how many toys came out at once so they had less of a chance to take over a room. Oh, and I wanted to do it for about $20.
I racked my brain trying to figure out the best way to rectify the Toy Bunny chaos in my living room and started looking around my house. I landed on some baskets that I had picked up at our local dollar store and an idea started forming. Then the next time I was in my DollarTree, I picked up ten basic black plastic baskets.
Then I began sorting. I put toys in categories and started filling the baskets. G-Girl has some baskets specific for her things that are kept on a higher shelf: toys that are small, or have small parts. Other toys that don’t pose a hazard to younger children I baby-sit or own Itty Bitty down the road, are on lower shelves for easy access by all.
Then I took each basket and dumped its contents on the floor (stay with me here – I’m really not nuts). I arranged the items quickly and shot a picture. Then out came the cardstock and a stash of scrapbook letters that I’ve had on a shelf, nearly untouched for –oh, about three years! I got to work. I set G-Girl to work with scissors, paper and glue-stick to make her own "po-jet" (project). I printed out my photos, cut the cardstock to fit the fronts of the basket and heated up my laminator. I laminated the cards, and punched holes in the corner so they would tie easily to the baskets. The finished product was basket labels that have a photo of what goes in the basket, as well as a word description.
There are a number of points to this solution that make it work so well. When the basket is full, if something new comes home, it’s time to pass a toy along to someone else. There is a picture to show what goes in the basket to make clean up easy and G-Girl can match the toys to the photo. Now that the toys live in the nearly finished Green Room, a basket of toys can be brought out to be played with, but when play is done, everything gets cleaned up, back in the basket and back on the shelf before the next basket can come off the shelf which limits toy explosions all over the living room!
I am not claiming this as an original idea. I’m sure I’ve seen it somewhere before but I finally implemented it and it works for me!