Wednesday, September 28, 2011

10 best strategies for de-cluttering and organizing toys in your child’s playroom

Having an almost 2 year old and another on the way your home can quickly become overrun by toys and clutter. Our house is on the smaller side meaning our playroom is also our living room and the playroom upstairs is my sons bedroom. If you come into my house you may think it has been over taken by toys but I assure you in 5 minutes I can clean it up and everything has its place. Here are my 10 tips for organizing and de-cluttering your child's toys.

First - My first tip is making sure you have storage. A toy box is a must and I love having a book shelf which is open and easy for my son to have access too. We not only use the book shelf for books but toys and puzzles as well. Another good storage option is the bin or cube storage systems which run about $50.

Second - Get the children involved! Kids love helping especially at a young age so show them how to pick up their toys and put them away. Turn it into a fun activity or game by asking "Where does this go?" and give praise to your child when they do it properly. You will be surprised at how many toys end up where they belong. My little guy loves to show me when he puts something away.

Third - Make sure to keep out toys that are age appropriate. Is your child a 18 months and you still have rattles sitting out? Then it may be time to go through and de-clutter. Put the baby toys away and keep toys that are geared towards your child's age group to avoid becoming overwhelmed.

Fourth - A good time to do de-cluttering and organizing is right before a birthday or Christmas. You will most likely be getting lots of new toys as gifts so in order to not feel overwhelmed I strongly advise getting rid of some toys just before. This way you will have room for all the new toys and be able to transition easily. Your child is not going to want to wait to open the new toys and those are the ones they are going to want to play with anyway.

Fifth - Less is more! I think that children can play better when they have less toys. If a child doesn't have room to play then it is frustrating and will become messy before it becomes productive. It also makes the child feel more at ease and less overwhelmed if they don't feel overtaken by a mountain of toys.

Sixth - Shelving. Shelving is a great way to add more room and de-clutter any space. I like to put "special" toys on higher shelving so that way when I bring them down they receive more attention and are played with longer and more attentively.

Seventh - Make it a fun learning experience. So your child doesn't have a tantrum when he sees that his toys are disappearing make sure he is involved. Have him help put them in the bag and find a local charity, shelter, church, or daycare that needs donations. Tell them that they are helping other children that don't have toys and that it is good to share. Keeping them involved in the entire process makes them feel better.

Eighth - Labeling. If you child is learning to read or can read, labels are a good way to help with that well keeping toys tidy at the same time. You can label shelves, bins, or even make a list for the toy box of what toys belong in there. Or use pictures of what belongs where to help your child know where to put toys back. You can even turn this into a fun art project coloring and designing the labels with your child.

Ninth - Have too many toys and want to keep them all? Rotate! I like to rotate the toys in our house. It not only keeps my son from getting bored with toys but helps with the clutter. We rotate between toys that are upstairs and downstairs and if he brings a toy either down or up we then pick another toy to rotate back the other way.

Tenth - Relax! You have kids, there is going to be clutter, I can guarantee it. Your house is going to be messy from the toys at some point in time so just remember that everything does not have to be perfect and kids make messes. I would much rather have a mess from them playing with their toys then sitting with their hands folded all day (which we know would never happen)

Hopefully this helps and maybe you don't need all ten tips but if you can take at least one idea and apply it then yay! It can be hard going from a perfectly organized home to one that is full of toys. Especially if you have grandparents and friends that love to spoil.

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and HotWheels blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ten tips for preparing your home for your new baby's arrival

Already well into my third trimester and 29th week of pregnancy their starts to be an urgency to prepare for the new baby's arrival. With my first I was well prepared in advance but with a demanding toddler this time around I don't nearly feel as prepared. To help I have put together a list of my top ten ways to prepare for your little ones arrival.

First - Supplies! Every baby no matter what needs to have diapers, whether cloth or disposable, wipes, diaper cream, baby wash, baby lotion, and a good baby detergent. One of my personal favorites is Seventh Generations line of wipes, diapers, and laundry detergent which I already use on my 21 month olds highly sensitive skin. Their great line of natural and chlorine free products can be found here!

Second - Prepare the nursery. You first have to decide if you want to use a crib or a bassinet. I personally use the pack and play for the first 3 months so the baby can be close to me me for those long sleepless nights. Once we get to 3 months we are usually in a pretty good routine so I can switch to the nursery which is upstairs. Other nursery necessities might be a glider, changing table, and of course picking out a theme.

Third - Another big decision is deciding whether or not you are going to breastfeed. If you decide to go the formula route make sure you have some on hand so you don't have to run out to the store. The ready to feed nursers are great the first couple of weeks. If you are going to be breastfeeding then make sure to invest in a good pump.

Fourth - My fourth tip stems from my third with sterilization! No matter which route you go you have to make sure everything is cleaned and sterilized for the baby. Wash pump parts, bottles and pacifiers. When you get home baby is going to be hungry so make sure to have this ready.

Fifth - Pets! Besides already having a toddler running around I also have a dog. He is a very jealous dog at that and does not like having his attention spent on someone else. We like to prepare the dog for the babies arrival by having someone bring an article of clothing from the hospital home early for him to sniff and get used to the scent. Its also a good idea to have a baby gate to keep him separated at first or for times when you just don't want him jumping on the baby.

Sixth - All that baby equipment is very overwhelming. The most important piece is the car seat and do not wait until you are in labor to try and figure out how to install it in the car. This weekend is actually car seat awareness weekend with many locations offering free safety inspections of car seat installation. Most fire and police stations offer free help as well. My advice is have them check it. It doesn't hurt and puts your mind at ease.

Seventh - Prepare the siblings. If you have other children at home I think it is important that they are aware. I have constantly been telling my son that his brother is in my tummy and to give him kisses. I also try to have him around other babies so he knows to be gentle around his new little brother. If you have older children ages 3 and up ten a hospital offered class is a great option as well.

Eighth - Clean, clean, and more cleaning. I have a constant urge to clean and once I start its hard for me to stop when I am pregnant lol. I tend to clean weird things too such as walls and ceilings. I guess its nesting but I fell that its important to get all the cleaning out of the way because I know that will be the last thing I will want to do when the baby is here. (Seventh Generation makes great natural cleaning products too!)

Ninth - Clothes would be next for me. Make sure you cut off the million little tags that are on all the clothes and wash them once before baby comes. My advice with clothes is less is better. Avoid anything that has lots of snaps or multiple pieces. Zippers are great and gowns are even better. When it is 4am and you are changing a diaper the last thing you want is to have to figure out how to snap the outfit back together.

Tenth - Relax! Make sure in all of this getting prepared for baby that you take some time for yourself and also some special time with your significant other. You life is about to change in a wonderful but hectic way make sure you share and enjoy some moments of me time.

After writing this all out I actually feel more prepared then I thought. Baby Nicholas is going to be joining our family in 10 weeks and I know we all can't wait to meet him. Nothing is more exciting then the miracle of life and meeting your baby for the first time and nothing can prepare you for the happiness felt holding your baby for the first time.

Also don't forget to check out Seventh Generation's line of products for you home and baby here.

Disclosure: "I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Seventh Generation blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here."