Recently we looked at how toys can squirrel their way into every corner of your family's home.
Now writer Tanith Carey is going to help us fight back. Tanith, seen on the right with her daughter Clio, is the author of How to be an Amazing Mum When You Just Don't Have the Time – the Ultimate Handbook for Hassled Mothers.
These are her tips for anyone feeling overwhelmed by Toy Mountain:
Next to cleaning the kitchen and doing the laundry, there's nothing quite like the endless task of picking up playthings to grind a time-crunched mum down.
There have been times when I have literally gasped in horror at the thick lava of puzzle pieces, blocks, dried-out play dough bits, doll's house furniture and discarded books that has spread through my house.
But by weeding out the messiest toys – and making sure what's left is organised – there really are ways to reduce your workload.
* Think before you buy. Consider how much space a new toy will take up and how long the novelty will last. Toys with flashing lights or whirring noises will also need a steady flow of battery changes, so steer clear of the extra work. Certainly avoid battery-operated toys with panels that need to be removed with a screwdriver. How much time do these manufacturers think you have?
* Don't let children get into the habit of pulling everything off the shelves – for you to put back. From the age of three, introduce a rule that they can get a maximum of only three games or books out at a time. If they want to play with more, they need to return the ones they've used to the proper place.
* Younger children concentrate better when they have just a few good toys instead of too much choice. Keep extra items in boxes marked 'Toys on Holiday', and rotate them. You'll end up doing a lot less tidying.
* Build open, secure low shelves in the alcoves of your child's room; they store much more than ready-made units. Kids can get what they want and put it back, and there's no risk of them toppling over.
* A young child in full flow can create a new mess every minute. So harness that natural energy with some reverse psychology, and make tidying up a game. It may not work perfectly, but at least you will feel as though it's all getting slightly better, not worse! Let them enjoy making a noise as they drop the blocks back into the box. Buy a mini shopping trolley and suggest they go 'shopping' for toys.
Taken from How to be an "Amazing Mum" - When You Just Don't Have the Time by Tanith Carey, available here from Amazon.