Thursday, March 25, 2010

Carnival of the Stuffed Animal: Organizing Your Child's Stuffed Toys

Untamable stuffed animals is a common organizational challenge in a children bedrooms. We have tried netted hammocks and the bottom of the closet floor, but none of those have seemed to be functional and attractive. Here is a step by step way to corral those beloved cuties.

1) Go Shopping - You will need one, or two, solid shoe organizer with cubbies, like the one pictures. If the shoe organizer is made out of fabric or wire, it will not work. It should also be stackable so you can add another in the future or to double storage now. We bought ours at Target for $20 ($25 normally). We already had one for a while, then bought a second one. As in all large families, the stuff animals "share" rooms.

Next you will need to go to IKEA. While you are at it, do not cook that night and eat dinner at the store. Their kids meals are cheap and fairly healthy (no fries!). You will need:

IKEA PS FANGST $4.99 (found in the children's department in the showroom or in the marketplace and comes in many colors) - MINIFANGST $1.49 is a smaller alternative for the lesser stuffed animal enthusiast.

LINDSDAL Knob $4.99 for a 2/pack (found in the kitchen department in the showroom) Or choose another knob you like better. Its purpose is to stop the FANGST netting from sliding off the bracket mentioned below.

EKBY STILING Bracket $4.00 (white - 6 3/4 size) or EKBY VALTER Bracket $3.00 (birch or black - 7 1/8 size) - (both are found in the Marketplace in Home Organization in the section for shelves)

2) Assemble - Put together shoe organizer. To hang the netting storage (FANGST), you will need to screw the bracket into a stud on the wall at the desired height. Keep in mind the FANGST grows longer with the weight from items stored inside. Then screw in 1 knob in the outer hole (see picture above).

3) Declutter - Sit down, one on one with your child and go through all the stuffed stuff. Explain that, "From now on your stuffed animal collection needs to fit into these storage units. Only a couple of stuffed animals can remain on your bed. The extra large animals will need to be on a shelf, on top of furniture, or in toy storage (an out of sight place like a storage room). Show each animal one at a time and say, "Keep or give away." I would explain it as "only keeping what you love and passing along the rest to bless another child." This is an excellent life skill for your child to learn.

4) Sort - Figure out what animals will fit nicely into the cubbies in the shoe organizer or are too heavy for the FANGST. Find light smaller ones for the FANGST, then sort those into "most played with" and "lest played with" - again asking your child one by one. Obviously the less used will go on the top, harder to reach storage levels on the FANGST.

5) Assign Spots - First pick the (1-3) favorites for the bed. Then assign "rooms" in the shoe organizer. Obviously, you can fit more if they share the rooms. This is great for Webkinz. We are in the process of punching out hearts for name tags, which we will place in each cube with Wacky Tacky (or any unhurtful tack) after they are laminated, or I may use Velcro tabs, which are more permanent. The large animals find their spot off the floor. The rest of the zoo goes into the FANGST as mentioned in #4 above.

Well, at least that is what has worked for us. We have had this set up for a few months now with no outbreaks. If my daughter wants to buy a new one or gets one, she has to get rid of one (if there is not an open spot). No excepts (insert stern teacher face here). Oh, if your child does not put them back, you can put the stuffed animals in the "pound" and they have to pay to get them out! Ms. G likes the "rooms" and we have no problems with cleanliness. The visibility helps prevent dumping too. This solution ended our stuffed animal nightmare, your solution will probably be different to fit your situation, but wanted to share our fix to a common problem. Please post any variations you come up with.

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