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How-To: Organize Toddler/Taby Toys

Friends! Thank you so much for your excitement about the blog launch! I’m incredibly humbled by your support and encouragement! Lots of fun content to come, but please let me know in the comments if you have any requests! I love getting your ideas!

I’m excited to start sharing how-to posts from frequently asked questions on Instagram.

I get a LOT of the same questions about how we do certain things in our home or in our family. So I’ll be sharing those frequent questions in “how-to” posts.

I’m a mama to young toddlers, so obviously…I have a lot of mama followers on Instagram. Austen will be 4 in May and Hudson turned 1 in November. So we have a toddler and what child development experts call a “taby” {toddler/baby}

Not only that, but I was a preschool teacher before staying home with Austen. So I have a passion for creating a fun, interactive, and educational home for our children to learn, play, and develop.

l also happen to be super type A and hyper organized. So when I’ve shared instastories of me playing with the kids, or if I’m sharing new toys or books we are loving, we obviously get tons of questions about how we organize all of our toys.

For a while, I really didn’t feel like I had a great grasp on how to organize our toys so that they were used effectively. But after Christmas, I decided to really purge and organize so that the boys were actually playing with toys in age appropriate ways.

I have three older siblings, and six nieces and nephews ranging in ages from 21-7 {I know…that’s another story for another day} so we have LOTS of amazing hand me downs. My sister is also a professor of special education, but spent many years teaching in the classroom. So I have her classroom manipulative and resources.

All of that to say…we have a LOT of incredible toys. But I noticed that the boys were not using and playing with our toys effectively. They were playing for a few minutes, and moving on quickly. I’ll actually be sharing how we are working on attention span with Austen in a post soon.

I won’t rattle off all of the research, but everyone knows that we {as adults} function more effectively in organized environments. Why would our children be any different?

When I say I want our kids to be playing effectively, I mean I want them to be playing with a toy for a longer period of time. I don’t mean they need to be playing with the toy exactly as it was designed. I actually think a lot of creativity and brain power is used when children find new ways to play with a toy. But I want our boys to play with a toy for longer than a few minutes. Which takes time, and learning, but the environment in which they play is so important.

Big glaring warning…I KNOW we have a lot of cabinet space. That was not by mistake. I like to be organized, but minimal…so we put cabinets pretty much anywhere we could fit them when we renovated. Do NOT let your lack of cabinet space be an excuse. Find an inexpensive bookshelf {hello Ikea}, store extra toys in a closet or storage space and rotate toys, really look into the cabinets you do have and make sure you’re using them effectively. Do you really need an entire cabinet of old books you’ll never read? Box those suckers up so you can organize a kid zone!

So…here are my tips when trying to purge/organize your toys to create an environment where your children can play and learn.

  1. Purge
  2. Group
  3. Separate
  4. Display
  5. Teach

Purge

As a society…we just have too many things! It’s not easy to go through and purge, but it’s so important! Use whatever method fits your personality! But take the time, and go through! Stay focused! Set a timer, and get it done! Here’s what I remind myself when I’m having a hard time letting go: someone else could use this more than we could. If I’m ever on the ledge of if I should keep something, I always think…another child could use this toy. We donate to a local charity, but that always gives me so much peace knowing that these toys will bless another child.

Also guys…go through your arts and craft things every now and then. Having a massive box of markers that don’t work it just pointless. I’ll be sharing my favorite arts and crafts storage and how we incorporate art into our home in another post to come!

Group

Next it’s time to group your items! Find like things {puzzles, books, blocks, arts/crafts} and bring them together so you can store them together. Sometimes it’s also helpful to group toys in age groups as well. We actually have one drawer that has all baby toys so we can grab them when little kiddos are over playing.

Separate

I am a big proponent of boxes…lots and lots of boxes to organize. Here’s why. In our house, when you want to play with a toy, you select a box, play with it, clean it up, and then choose something else. It’s not a situation where we bring out five different toys and it’s chaos. Now if Austen wants to use the megnatiles and the alphabots {both are linked in my Amazon list} to make a world for the alphabots…absolutely! I want him to be creative, but I don’t want him jumping from one toy to another out of boredom. Hudson {at 15 months} even understands this concept.

Now yes…organizing costs money. I bought our boxes at Target {they come in a lot of sizes} but I’m linking the same ones in my Amazon list. We invested about $100 in all of the boxes. It was money well spent in my books. Look for the sales! We bought them after Christmas when they were having an organizing sale. I bought ours in particular because they have a lid that has clasps to keep the lids on and secured. Dollar tree even has amazing bin options. Find what fits your aesthetic and budget.

Display

This is where your bookcases or cabinets come in handy. Make them look aesthetically pleasing. Why? Because you’re more likely to keep it looking nice if you enjoy the way it looks. Sounds stupid right…but it’s just true. And your children will notice!

A lot of people asked why I didn’t label my boxes. I was going to. And then Alex made fun of me. Not really…well kind of. I was about to label them with a friend’s circuit and Alex was like “Lelia…they are clear…we can see what they are…they don’t need to be labeled” Duh Lelia. Now…would it be more pretty…yes. Would I like Austen learn to read and recognize those letters…yes? Would it make it even easier for friends to help put away toys after a play date…yes. But I’m working on making my list easier…so that was a task that I put off. Maybe one day I’ll get around to it!

Teach

This is probably the step most parents skip. But we have to teach and model how we want our children to play. When I organized everything, Hudson immediately went and opened EVERY box and poured everything out. I cried. He cried. It was fun. But I had not modeled what I was expecting. It took about a week for them to figure out what I had envisioned. Now it’s very simple. And even better…anyone who comes to our house knows how to put our toys back. Find like toys…but put in a box.

So there you have it! That’s how WE have organized our toys. Is this the best way? Who the heck knows! Will it look different in a year? Maybe. But for this season, it works great!

I’d love to know…how do you organize your toys? How do you utilize your space to make your playing environment work?

Oh and don’t worry…Austen does in fact play with these toys too…he was just at school while we were taking the majority of these pictures! Gotta use those school times wisely…you hear me mamas?

Pictures by the incredibly talented and patient Tasha Pinelo

Welcome to Wendels Love

You all! I’m so excited to FINALLY launch my new blog!

This is two years in the making, and I’m SO excited to finally make this dream come true!

For those of you who don’t know, I blogged for years at Life On The Homestead Blog. It was a modge podge of things I was interested in at the time: clothes, DIY, life, but most recognizably for our story with infertility. I blogged throughout our infertility journey, my pregnancy with our first, our birth story, and after Austen…I stopped. For no other reason than I was just tired! I always intended on blogging again, but never took the time to sit down and DO. And I’m forever sad I didn’t! So many posts have been written in my head that probably could have helped someone. Could have inspired someone. Could have helped ME. Could have inspired ME.

And why didn’t I just start blogging again?

Perfectionism

I’ve always been a perfectionist. My first memory of perfectionism is from kindergarten when I couldn’t perfectly color in a bear for my “homework” and ya’ll…MY MOM COLORED IT FOR ME. My sweet mother, rolling her eyes and exhausted from a long day at work, colored my bear for me to get through that evenings list of to-dos.

I have been paralyzed by perfectionism. I remember in our early marriage I was trying to make a super simple piece of art work, and Alex left me with a blank canvas and two hours later came back and it was still empty. He asked why it was still empty and with tears I said “because I just knew it wasn’t going to turn out perfect.” Ya’ll…how sad is that?

I don’t want to live that life! I don’t want to live life perfectly. I want to live life with grace and freedom! I want to live a life of love. I want to love life.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons it’s taken me this long to start my blog again! I couldn’t find the perfect blog design. The perfect logo. How will I produce perfect pictures for each post? It was exhausting.

So I didn’t start it.

I kept writing blog posts in my brain, and never started.

I wrote blog posts in my brain through hard mom moments, through fun trips, through renovating a house, through parties planned, through house projects. So many blog posts I’ve written in my head.

I’ve shared a lot on Instastories…and finally I had a follower just say it. Start a blog! Just start it!

So here I am. I’m doing it! It’s not going to be perfect friends. It’s going to be messy, and imperfect, and I’m going to need so much grace. I’m going to need to give myself So. Much. Grace.

So what’s with the name? I was trying to figure out what to name this little part of the internet and was coming up short. Alex actually came up with our sweet blog name. Wendels Love, comes from our family mission statement. The first and last items in our family mission statement are “Wendels Love”

Why do we have it twice? Because that’s the legacy we hope to leave. We hope that people feel love from us. Feel loved by us. We want to teach our children that loving people is the most fulfilling thing you can do. It’s what God called US to do.

And to be honest, in today’s world…I feel it’s a huge burden we are putting on our boys’ shoulders. But we are praying over, modeling, and guiding our boys to react in love. Every morning, I ask Austen how he can love someone today. When he leaves my arms, and heads into school…I have no control over him. I pray that over time, we can teach him to love himself, love others, and create a life that exudes grace and love.

So that’s what we hope for this blog. We want to inspire you to cultivate a life that you will love…just as we are doing every single day.

What’s my goal with this blog? It took me SO long to actually admit my long term dream. I adore being a stay at home mom…but that will end one day. And what do I want to be doing when our kids are in school? I want to be doing just this…inspiring and sharing my life and my journey with women everywhere. I want to have a platform to motivate and encourage women to live a life of love. Because when we live a life that we love, it impacts everyone around us for the better. I hope to speak to moms groups, and at conferences, and who the heck knows…write a book one day. My goal is to fill you up with inspiration and encourage you to push towards cultivating a life you will love. I will be walking the walk…and talking the talk. So call me out if you see me acting otherwise!

But don’t worry…a huge part of my journey is our normal life of home, raising kiddos, fashion, and I’m all the flip over the place so I’ll be sharing ALL the things I’m passionate about!

Friends…I’m so excited for this journey! I hope you stick around. I pray you find that nudge that you need. I can’t wait to hear from you. Let’s do this friends…let’s cultivate a life that we will LOVE. One imperfect day at a time!

Show me a little love friends…comment below! Tell me where you’re from and what is your favorite holiday! Can’t wait to hear from ya’ll!

Make it an amazing day friends!

{Pictures by Tasha Pinelo Photography}

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