We have spent very little money on toys for Nathaniel and somehow THIS happened.
Between generous friends, his first birthday, Christmas, and toys we had saved from the first set of children, toys seemed to be suddenly out of control. We had a situation with our private duty nursing last week that made everything feel very out of control, so I woke on Saturday morning determined to bring order to some part of our lives. Even if it was just toys. I decided to create toddler toy tubs that can be rotated every couple of days with each tub offering opportunity for gross motor play, fine motor play, sensory play, and messy play.
First task was to group the toys into categories.
Toys to stack or build.
Toys that develop fine motor skills.
Toys that encourage realistic play.
Other categories were musical instruments, things that roll easily to crawl after, toys that offer a sensory experience, puzzles, and cause and effect toys. My categories were heavily influenced by what Nathaniel is currently working on in his therapies.
Next I divided these first sets into five new sets with one toy from each category. Each new set has roughly six to eight toys. The nurses tend to play with Nathaniel in his bedroom so I like to keep a couple toys available on his bookshelf. The remaining three or four will be in our living room. I added a variety of messy play selections to each set: bubbles, markers, crayons, play dough and play dough tools, box of pudding, finger paints, and so on. I try to offer him something in this category every day at his little table in our kitchen. Having the supplies ready in the tub will prompt me to actually make it happen. Two examples of the sets after the toys were resorted:
Lastly, around four in the afternoon because bringing order to anything takes ALL day, I packed the new sets away in tubs. This was no small feat actually. Ben was a hero and went to three stores to find tubs that fit my specifications: hold the toys and fit on the shelves Dad installed ten years ago. We learned that tubs today are made much narrower on the bottom than the top and therefore did not meet requirement #1. We ended up emptying the family stock of saved Legos and Knex and Lincoln Logs into these new "narrow on bottom" tubs. We could shake these little pieces down to size. We used our fifteen-year-old-why-don't-they-make-things-like-they-used-to-tubs for the toddler toys.
It took less than five minutes tonight to set out the new toys for morning and pack up the tub we've been playing with for the last couple days.
As I find new ideas for messy play, or spring warms up and we are outside more, or Nathaniel's skills and therapy needs change, I can switch out different toys, art supplies, and activities. If Nathaniel is enjoying one particular toy, it will be easy to keep that one out and leave the similar themed item in the tub. For example, if Nathaniel is really enjoying his Duplos, I can leave those out and not offer the new toy in the stacking/building category.
I can not explain how happy this makes me. A few toys to play with at a time. Toys are presorted so that all his therapies can be worked on each day. The rest is packed away ready for another day. Order where there was chaos.