Evelyn Cucchiara, The Toy Tamer {Our NJMOMpreneur of the Week}

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Ask any mom which area of the house is her organization pain point, and you’re likely to get the same answer: the toys. That shared sentiment, along with a system to solve it, is what led Evelyn Cucchiara, our NJMOMpreneur of the Week, to become The Toy Tamer. A former art therapist, daycare owner, and mom of three boys, she helps families set up their children’s play spaces for success — bringing them the peace that comes with less clutter and fewer clean-up battles. With all of us spending more time than ever in our homes right now, we chatted with the Basking Ridge mama about how her business came to be, the best parenting advice she’s ever gotten, and even got her to share some of her toy taming wisdom.
featured image via Carley Storm

Our #NJMOMpreneur, Evelyn Cucchiara, The Toy Tamer via Carley Storm

How did you become ‘The Toy Tamer’? Tell us about your background and how you got your business off the ground.
The Toy Tamer evolved over time. I’ve always loved kids, and I have my BFA in Art Therapy and my MFA in Art Education. I was an art therapist for a while, then moved to corporate art, and then when I couldn’t find daycare, I quit my corporate job and opened up a family daycare business so I could care for my 2-year-old son. That is where the Toy Tamer system really started — I didn’t want to spend more time putting toys away. I had 8 kids I was caring for and with them helping, they would learn new skills at the same time.

Fast forward a bit, I closed my daycare, had my third son, and opened Art Adventures, an art studio for kids. I did that for about 20 years, and after, I was looking around for new challenges. I’ve always thought about systems and habits, and I know from experience how it smooths family life out when you have methods to rely on. So. I decided to start a business teaching young families better time management skills. I wrote all my systems down, and turned them into a best selling book called “30 Days To An Organized Home.” I thought a business teaching moms how to get more done with less stress would be a winner—it wasn’t. I learned that moms have no time to learn how to have more time.  After that realization, I changed my business model. I already had this proven system of how to set up a playroom so it stays organized, the kids can find everything, and actually want to put their toys away. So, The Toy Tamer was born and it’s become something that moms want for their sanity, but in reality, it’s teaching the kids executive functioning skills so they can run their own lives as they get older.

Evelyn on the search for the perfect organization furniture for a project prior to quarantine.
How do your services typically work and how have you shifted your business model in light of the COVID-19 situation? 
Typically, I go to people’s homes to see their space and then take care of everything for them — cleaning out and organizing the toys, bringing in the right storage furniture, labeling everything, and setting up the system so the kids take over. I’ve always worked virtually, so that is continuing. But the new shift is that I’m using this self-isolation time to create a DIY Toy Taming Course called “The S.A.N.E. Way To Organize Your Playroom.” I’m basically guiding moms through every step to transform their playroom on their own. They get all my knowledge of what works and what doesn’t in a clear cut step-by-step system, complete with videos and checklists. I’ve done my research, and I believe this will be the only comprehensive course out there that results in a completely transformed playroom, with a system in place that keeps it that way. We’ve all cleaned up the playroom only to have it a mess again once the kids play. This solves that problem — once and for all. The course should be available by the end of April. You can see the entire Toy Taming process in any of the before & after videos on my social sites.
What do you hear from moms about how toy clutter impacts them? 

Clutter impacts the entire family, moms feel it’s their job to keep it under control and most dads feel it’s not their problem, but the kids are the real losers in the clutter battle. A home filled with clutter produces kids who are overwhelmed and can’t make decisions. Yet, every kid wants to be in charge of their world. If we give them the playroom to be in charge of and ensure their success with the right system, we end up with kids who can think for themselves and run their own lives.

Playroom before & after photos via Paula and Waffle
You have a specific system you recommend for parents to tackle toy organization. How did you discover what works best and what at-home tips can you offer NJMOMs? 

I think like a kid would think when it comes to putting toys away. I make it into a game, one they can win every time so immediate gratification is the reward, and there no greater motivator than that. Toys need to be easier to put away than to take out, bins should never have lids, bins should be half the size of the shelf, the list goes on. Right now, I’m sharing tips every day via video on my social media. Once the system is in place, it runs by itself and you never have to clean up again. As kids grow and the toys change, they’ll just need new labels to keep the system running. Toy Taming really is a one and done answer.

“My favorite place is the shore— this specific picture is from Margate.” -Evelyn Cucchiara

What are some of your favorite NJ businesses you’re supporting right now during our current quarantine and how?
I’m only leaving the house for groceries, but I’m supporting local businesses by sharing their posts and activities every day on Instagram and Facebook. I know by sharing the posts, I sold some at home pizza kits for our local Italian restaurant Cafe Rustica, as well as candles for Short Hills business (and fellow NJMOMpreneur) Birch House Candles. I also share all the kid-based activities I come across, like craft kits at FairyTale Inc. in Bernardsville, and at-home activities posted by The Museum of Early Trades and Crafts in Madison.

Evelyn with her three sons and husband

What’s the best advice anyone has given you as a mom and as a mompreneur and why? 

The best advice I ever got is direct and to the point, and I still use it today, even though my three boys are taller than me now. It’s a simple question I ask myself: Will this matter in 10 years? Since most of the time the answer is no, then why worry? Let kids be kids, let them explore, let them make messes. Have systems to make life smoother and less stressful. And if the mess takes less time to clean up then the kids spent playing, all is good.

For more information on Evelyn, visit her website or check out her Facebook or Instagram.


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About Author

Marisa is a mom to two sweet boys and a little lady (all under 4!) as well as one precious girl in heaven and her heart. A true Jersey girl, Marisa loves raising her family here and embracing all that being a #NJMOM has to offer. Whether it's summer days on Spring Lake beach or down on LBI, or heading out to sample some of the state's best eats (Montclair and Jersey City are favs), family days out and about together are her favorite way to spend a weekend. A former news anchor turned on-air lifestyle host and expert, you might also catch her on TV or in the kitchen cooking up something delish for the littles.

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