The first thing I used to do in my classroom to ensure daily success was organize EVERYTHING. Even then, without children of my own, I used to wonder why my classroom was so organized and my house was not. So, keeping my home organized has never been my strong suit.
However, the other day Ritchie mentioned that maybe Max was overwhelmed by the number of toys displayed in our living room, which is primarily where he plays. It's true that we basically had every toy we owned out in the living room. He used to just sort of wander around the toys and pick up one thing and put it back down but never actually play with anything. This would usually result in enough boredom for a toy to be thrown across the room or a major destruction of the toy area in general.
So, I decided that if anything was going to be organized in this house it would be the toys. I emptied out their closet and organized all toys into categories and put them into plastic tubs (Target - roughly $1 each). I still haven't labeled them, but I plan to eventually. I stored tubs up in the closet and bigger toys went on a bookshelf low in the closet.
Please excuse the craptastic iPhone pics. You get the idea.
I took a plastic drawer set that we had and placed it next to his play kitchen (which I also moved into his room) and put all of his kitchen toys into it.
Our living room now has very few things. His train table will be there and there's one floor toy and a few small buckets with soft toys for Ben.
All the blue tape is there to signify future furniture. Couches and train tables and the likes.
What I love is that there's still plenty of storage space:
1/2 of the closet top still has space for tubs.
And I emptied out this huge basket! Now we can buy new stuff! Haha, just kidding.
When it's time to play I tell Max that he gets to choose something from the closet and we go. I offer him a few choices and he chooses either a tub of toys (blocks, cars, music instruments, puppets, etc.) or a few of the bigger toys from the bookshelf and he brings them to the living room. After he's done, we clean them up and put them back and he can pick something else out.
So far this has worked amazingly well. He seems very excited to go to the closet and choose what to play with and since he chose it he's usually interested enough to enjoy it for at least 15 min. He still does better if I'm playing with it WITH him (part of the idea was that there would be a bit of independence so I could, I don't' know - shower?) but it's a huge improvement over having everything out all of the time.