Wow, your challenge is almost complete!  Only a few days to go.  I hope that you will continue to utilise the skills and knowledge you have gained from this exercise into your everyday routine.

Day 8 – Toy Cupboard/Book Shelf – Saturday 16th February 2012

Toys are certainly one of those things that can clutter up our homes and sometimes we would love to just throw it all out so we don’t have to deal with the clutter or the conflict we have with our children over pack up time!  Our children do end up with alot of toys more so through presents than anything else.

You can use the same basic de-cluttering principles for your bookshelf as you have for all your other challenges.  Do you tend to re-read books you’ve already read?  If not pay them forward for others to enjoy.  There are some fantastic organisations like The Footpath Library who happily accept good quality books, but please check their list of donate-able books, or perhaps you know of a group in your area.  Opp Shops are FULL of books already.

There are a number of ways to reduce the amount of toys that consume your home or the kids space.
Rather than having every toy at your children’s disposal, keep a cross section of toys in their regular play zone that suits their current interests or stage of development, and keep others on higher shelves or in another cupboard of your home.  Children play more constructively with a smaller amount of toys and you won’t end up in a situation where toys are simply pulled out for the sake of it.  You could create a theme for each week/month and base the toys available to them around this theme.  Rotate them on a regular basis to keep them interested and to enhance their development.

Sort through and remove any items that are past their use by date, based on age and interests.  Any good quality items can be sold off on EBay or if you are happy to donate them check with your Local Toy Library, rather than the Opp Shop, to see if they accept donations and if the items are suitable for them to hire out.

To reduce the amount of items that come into your home, suggest to gift givers that they give clothing, items required for school or particular play based learning toys your child may need.  Even gift vouchers can be great!  This allows both the parent and child to choose their own gift.  We can often hold onto items gifted to us as we feel it distasteful to let them go.  It’s the thought that counts more so than the physical item.

You may have an existing cupboard or you might consider purchasing storage from places like IKEA or other relevant stores.  We love our EXPEDIT unit from IKEA! The best part of this system is the fact that we can simply remove each box if we have lots of kids over, to help reduce the potential mess. The boxes are great for dress-ups and larger items and we use other open spaces for books, a tea set, puzzles and other individual items based around the theme we have created.  It’s also flexible storage as we can move everything around or take boxes/items out completely. Other ‘special’ toys are in another storage area where the kids can’t reach.  We also tend to keep our books on the top shelf and library books on the bottom so we can find them easily.

                                                                                Just a simple tidy up really
Only two challenges to go!!