Any organized parent or teacher of littles will tell you of the importance of rotating toys. Leave a minimal number of toys available at any one time, and then rotate those out on a regular basis. Rotation makes old toys new again. Too many toys out at once is just overwhelming, and ironically, it can lead to too many new toys entering the house as kids stop seeing what they actually have. While we weren't adding any, we certainly had too many out. When I sat dejected in the middle of a very messy playroom one afternoon, I took a good look around and realized that if I were a kid, dumping everything everywhere would be my first inclination too. How else could you see what there was or decide what to choose? Once something was dumped on the floor, it wasn't even obvious where it should be put back. Too much!!!
Unfortunately, knowing this didn't translate into making the time to fix it until this week, mostly because it was definitely not a task that could be completed with children watching. The other night while the girls were asleep, I went through and took it all down to a minimum level. Now, each shelf space holds one or two items at appropriate heights for their users. A cleared desk is topped with a pad of paper, a sketch book, and a tackle box/art box for Ellie (and an unplugged phone for important business calls). The room became inviting, interesting, and fun again. I expected backlash at the absence of most of their things, but there hasn't been even a hint of objection. Instead, both girls happily entertain themselves without any hesitation or deliberation, and they can easily see where toys need to be put back. Ellie is enraptured with her new art box, so much so that this morning she bypassed my sleeping body and was busily engaged with it when I woke up who knows how much later.
I plan to rotate some contents of the tackle box weekly too. Right now, it contains twist-up crayons, muffin tin rainbow crayons, feathers, goggly eyes, colorful pompoms, scissors, glue stick, beads and string, stickers, paper strips for cutting or gluing, and a small blank book I made with card stock and computer paper.