Are all the toys driving you mad? Are you tripping over them everywhere? Here are some words of wisdom from other Libero parents on how to get the mayhem under control.
• Large, colourful hooks for coats, hats, bags, skipping ropes, dressing-up clothes make putting these things away fun and simple, and your kid can easily find what he or she needs.
• Use symbols or colours – you could even give each child their own colour. Nick's coat goes on the red hook, his towel and toothbrush are red, his special toys are in the red box, and so on.
• Organise the children's things into “activity zones” – puzzles, reading, pottering – so that everything to do with the activity is in the same place. For example, keep paper and apron in the same container as paints and brushes, so you can quickly get out all the necessities for a painting session. This also makes it easy to put things away again without anything getting lost.
• Make finding things and putting them away again easy and interesting to build good habits that will last a lifetime. Nursery staff have turned the task of labelling boxes and crates into an art form. The kids generally know exactly where everything needs to go, because “things have to be clean and tidy” at nursery!
• Imitate your nursery's routines for getting out toys and putting them away again. Before starting a new game, help your child put the first one away in the right place. This means there's not a huge mess to sort out at the end of the day, which will please everyone.
• Go through your child's toys every now and then, noting which ones they no longer play with. It's easy for kids' rooms to fill up with things they never use.
• It doesn't matter if your kid makes a mess; that's part of the game. But be careful not to let them put anything in their mouth that could get stuck in their throat. Enlist the help of your older children to make sure small, delicate objects are kept out of reach. Only chewable books and toys should be at baby level.
• If your child has lots of toys, try putting some of them away and getting them out later on. Their novelty often returns, making the toy fun to play with again. It's smarter than buying new stuff.