Toy Clutter: Should You Confine Playtime?

toddler toys and clutter

Photo by AdrinaBabyMama

You can't enter a single room of my house -- even the bathroom -- and not find some kind of toy there. As often as I go around relocating all the little figures, cars and dolls to their proper homes (the toy baskets, my kids' rooms), inevitably they always find their way out again.

As I type this I spot three plastic Backyardigans figures on my nightstand and a piece of plastic race car track on my bedroom floor. Moving to the kitchen, I see several stuffed animals crammed into a corner, a sandbox mold balancing atop a plant pot on the window sill, and a doll outfit in the fruit bowl.

In my dining room there are several balls under the radiators, a Play-Doh Ice Cream Maker in my China cabinet, a pair of hot pink whistle lips from a grab bag right in the middle of the napkin holder.


Sure, in an ideal world, I wouldn't want this. I hate clutter and I don't enjoy picking up toys all day long. But this is the least of my worries right now. And my husband could care less, too.

ktina11 has the opposite problem -- her husband is a neat freak. The first thing he does when he comes home from work is go around picking up her boys' toys from the living room floor. He doesn't think they belong there; children should play with toys in their rooms, he says.

"I feel they need to have more space," said ktina11, who was curious what the toy rules are in other homes. "I agree that our bedroom is off-limits, but I think the kids should be able to spend time in the living room."

The bulk of moms answering ktina's question in the Toddler Moms group feel like me -- their toddlers play wherever mom is at the moment and they are allowed to bring their toys along.

Chandra034 says her toddler has both bedroom toys -- big contraptions or annoying gadgets she doesn't want to listen to all day -- and quieter and smaller downstairs toys -- trucks, books, and cars.

Another mom, nicolea86, tells her boys that they can bring one toy in the living room at a time, but before they can carry out more they have to put the first ones back.

And TaterNJo0sMommy says: "I allow them to bring toys into other rooms, but we have an agreement that if I have to pick up their toys, they will not be allowed to bring toys to another room the next time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But it's not healthy for a child to be stuck in one bedroom all day, no matter how big or what you have in it."

++Are certain rooms off-limits for toys in your house? On a scale of 1 to 10 (the worst), how crazy does toy clutter make you?

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