Toys—Fun or Frustration

Mother cries, “We’re through buying toys for the children. The toys are lost or scattered so quickly that it is just a waste of money to buy new ones.” Another mother bemoans the fact that toys keep her house looking as if a ticker tape parade just passed by. Still another mother sighs and says, “Every night we have to pick up every toy in the house.” Such feelings are reflected by many parents, and there is good reason.

As children grow larger, their toys become smaller. The toys come in more and more pieces. In fact, toys can be extremely complex; some building sets, for instance, have hundreds of parts.

How can such toys be cared for so they don’t become lost, scattered over the neighborhood, littered about the house, or piled in a forgotten toy box?

And there is another problem: the boxes in which toys come are usually flimsy; they break down at the corners. The boxes contain stuffers or fillers, causing them to be cumbersome and space-wasters.

One workable solution is to prepare individual containers for any toys that come in pieces or parts. Drawstring bags of varying sizes and colors, made from gay-colored denim and labeled with a marking pen, make ideal containers for blocks, building logs, plastic bricks, and guidance toys of all sorts. Empty shortening cans with plastic seals or empty ice cream cartons are great for puzzle pieces, crayons, and marbles. Smaller containers, such as cottage cheese and sour cream cartons, are just right for storing the parts to games. For example, place all the pieces to the Pollyanna game in one container, the pieces to the Bingo game in another. Then just stack the game boards, with the instructions pasted on the back of the board. The bags may be hung on a pegboard or kept in a drawer. The cans and cartons may be stored on shelves or stacked in a toy closet or drawer.

Among other advantages, these containers conserve space. They keep toys well organized (all the pieces that go together are together). This helps children play with each game or toy for the purpose intended. Few children have the patience to sort through a box of toys to get together enough little plastic bricks to build a house. Instead, they will just dump out the contents of the entire box and make a mess. This system of individual containers also rotates the toys so the children do not see every toy every day. When a bag is opened after not having been used for some time, the toys it contains are like new to the children.

If you decide to use the system of bags and containers, establish a rule. You have probably already guessed what it is: No new bags or containers can be opened until the contents of the last one (or several ones, depending upon how many are used together) have been picked up. Be firm in teaching children to pick up what has already been played with before going on to the next project. Let toy bags and toy cans bring fun, not frustration, to your home.

[illustration] Art by Dale Kilbourn

Sister Hoole has written and lectured extensively on the art of homemaking. A member of Yalecrest Second Ward, Bonneville Stake, in Salt Lake City, she serves as a Primary teacher in her ward and is a member of the stake board of Relief Society. She is the mother of eight children.