(or, You will NOT put that LEGO in your mouth, young man!)
In a house with 3 boys with large gaps in ages, it’s hard to make sure the LEGO’s for the 11-year-old stay out of the hands (and mouth!) of the 2-year-old. The 6-year-old might have some Squinkies lying around that the toddler wants to chew on. Maybe both older boys want to make sure their Nintendo DS games are not getting shoved in the DVD player by tiny hands. We have a constant battle in the house over making sure the toys stay together and in the room or care of the kid they belong to.
Enter the best invention known to moms. Transparent storage bins. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and even colors! My favorites are the ones with the clasp that goes over the lid on the sides so tiny hands can’t open them by themselves. In the play room or wherever you keep toys for all kids it would be good to have a bookshelf or some way to keep the toys for the older kids up higher. We have developed a new system by taking an old bookcase and putting the LEGO’s in clear tubs towards the top, then the action figures, Transformers, anything with a lot of “parts” more in the middle and at the bottom rests the toys they can all play with such as trucks, cars, MEGA BLOKS, etc.
You could even go so far as to take a photo of the toys that are in the clear tubs and Velcro or tape them to the front so the kids can easily see which toys are where. This helps at clean up time for the younger kids as well since they will enjoy sorting and matching the toys to the pictures. We also have a tub for “random parts”. If anyone finds a piece to a toy that they aren’t sure where it goes, it gets tossed in there. On rainy days when the kids say they are bored, why not go through and match the random parts to the toy they belong to? This helps extend the life of the toys so they can be passed down to the younger ones once they are old enough.
Your older kids will feel so much better having their toys up high where younger siblings can’t get to them and having everything sorted and organized certainly helps when it’s time to put things away. By doing something as simple as sorting the toys in clear containers (with lids!) it can make for much happier kids (and Moms!) while keeping the younger ones from getting into things they shouldn’t be. There should be a lot less bickering between kids if the older ones know their precious Pokémon cards are well out of their younger siblings reach!