When we moved into our house, one of the things about which we were most excited was that we would be able to give Mia a playroom. Nice for her, sure, but also we would finally have a house free from toys because they would all be in the playroom or her bedroom.
No, that's ok, I'll wait for you to stop laughing.
So obviously we have a dedicated playroom full of toys (and the couch that wouldn't fit down the stairs into the basement and the piano and a small fraction of our seriously obscene book collection) and the house is still full of toys. The play kitchen is in the dining room because Mia likes to do her cooking close to Mommy. (And we almost never use the dining room for anything else, so what the hey.) The living room is always full of toys because the playroom is a little far from the kitchen and I want to keep Owen closer when I am trying to make lunch, etc., and it has become the default parking spot for the two Power Wheels my aunt sent for the kids. (Mia's was confined to the garage until Owen got his, and then I gave up and now they have races around the kitchen.)
The toys don't bother me too much, but once the kids are in bed I like to not spend the evening tripping over them. I don't care if the playroom is a disaster, but the rest of the house starts to annoy me. Cleaning up annoys me too, of course. You can't just cram stuff anywhere to get it out of the way, because come morning Mia will be asking me where the blue maraca is, not the green maraca she hates the green maraca and really needs the blue maraca and if the blue maraca isn't in the drum with the recorder and the harmonica and the kazoo then I am going to have to spend a chunk of my morning looking for it and it is just easier to put it in the right place to start with.
This means that I spend a large portion of my evenings schlepping all over the house. I find three things in the kitchen that belong in the playroom, carry them in, find something in there that belongs in the play kitchen, which turns out to have four barrettes that should be in Mia's room and on and on until I have done eight laps around the house.
But now, I have a system! And this whole long post is just an excuse to tell you about it! And if you tell me you have been doing it for years I am going to be so totally pissed at you, because why didn't you tell me? Anyway, here's my system:
Get a basket. Pick a room. Put away everything that belongs in that room. Put everything that doesn't belong in that room into the basket. Go to the next room and dump your basket out on the floor. You aren't going to want to do this, because it is just more mess and you think you can just pick through the basket. Trust me, you will miss stuff, just dump it. Once again, put away everything that belongs in that room and put everything else into the basket. Move on until you have done all the rooms and your basket is empty, which will take at most two full trips around the house. It takes me about half as long this way. Feel free to thank me profusely and tell me how I have changed your life.