I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am to help you, my loyal readers, with some of your organizational blunders! I asked on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and received a few emails about the spaces that need organizational help, and the responses have been amazing! This week (and the next few weeks), are all about toys! I receive so many questions in regards to organizing toys in the main living room, so I plan to take my time and (hopefully) help everyone with some ideas to keep those toys organized.
Toy storage is a huge problem for many families, as toys seem to multiply overnight. Today, our focus is on toys in the main living space. One reader wrote that her kiddos main play areas are in the living room and basement. However the toys in the living room have started to take over the space, which is driving her nuts! The corner where the toys are stored just isn’t cutting it for her anymore. She has already moved some toys to the basement, but it’s not helping! So I’m here to help with some additional suggestions to tame the toys!
Suggestion 1: Storage
The most important step is find a storage unit that can hold the toys that you want stored in the corner. This can easily be a temporary piece of furniture, or shelving you already have. There are many options that can be super functional, stylish and cost-effective.
If you have shelving, but it is being used for other things, I suggest relocating the other things and filling those shelves with the toys. Decorate the space with bins that match your style, so the toys can easily be hidden without compromising your style. The larger toys can stay in the corner, since there shouldn’t be that many. It’s also helpful to get a large bin like a laundry hamper to contain them.
If you need storage, there are countless ways to create it! One of my favorite products is from The Land of Nod called the storagepalooza. It can hold soooo many toys/books/junk, it looks nice, and you can move it around your house once the kids grow up.
Another option is to purchase the Kallax from IKEA. This system is configurable and can work in any space! And IKEA has incredibly durable bins that are surprisingly deep to hold all of the kids’ toys. It also has a flat surface on top to store those bigger toys that don’t totally fit into the bins.
There are also corner storage units that you can use to store the toys, or a toy box with a bench on top. This allows extra seating and an easy place to store the toys.
Suggestion 2: Categorizing
Now that you know how and where you will store the toys, the fun really starts…organizing! I suggest going into the basement, where most of the toys are, and bring the toys from the living room there as well to start organizing. Start grouping ALL of the toys into categories: all play food together, puzzles, games, tools, etc.
Evaluate the Toys
Once all the toys are categorized, look to see if there are any toys that are missing any pieces, broken, or that the kids have outgrown. Take all of those toys out of the equation. Do not show any emotional connection to these toys or the kids will notice and the keep pile will grow bigger! I know it’s tough, but it’s the only way to get your toys organized. I have two toys in each of my kiddos baby boxes that I saved for sentimental reasons, but the rest went to friends, family, donations or garbage. Just remind yourself that someone else could benefit from a toy your children don’t play with anymore.
At this point you should be down to the bare bones of the toy collection–which means all of the remaining toys are functional, age-appropriate, and useful to your children. By doing this, you can figure out what toys should be stored where. I like to keep all of our play food near the play kitchen. I keep all of the tools near the work bench. All of the play camping equipment near the tent. You get the idea!
Make it Simple
I made the decision to keep all of our toy bins the exact same throughout the house, so I can swap the bins from the basement with the bins in the play room quickly and easily, while keeping the consistency of my organizational systems that I already have in place. I have pictures on each bin so the kids can clean up after they are done, which for us ends up being at the end of the day! If I notice the kids are getting bored with the kitchen, I can swap it out for the work bench. I don’t have to change bins based on where the toys are stored.
Suggestion 3: Teaching
In order to keep the toys organized, you have to teach the kids how to keep it organized. Once the area is clean and organized, spend at least a week reinforcing how you want the kids to clean up. Start with putting toys in bins once they are done playing. Once they do this independently, show them how to put things away in the correct bin based on the labels. I would start with one area of the house at a time.
By breaking this down into steps, this allows your children to become independent while also teaching them some valuable life-skills. Having taught young children, this was always such an important indicator for success in school. The students who could organize themselves independently always had a leg-up on the students who were still learning how to organize themselves independently.
For my family, we put all the toys back in the bins they belong at the end of each day. Usually we have a few toys that were downstairs that make their way upstairs. I will either have someone put these toys in the basement while we are cleaning up or put it on the stairs so I can put it away once the kids are asleep. You can also keep an extra bin for toys that need to be put away in a different location.
This process has helped me organize our toys–and our current life with small kids! It takes time, effort and thought to remember to do this every day, but it’s worth it. By having a specific storage location for the toys, keeping toys categorized, and teaching the kids how to organize themselves, you’re on the right track to taming the toys in your main living space!
Do you have an area of your home that needs help? Is there a space that you can’t figure out how to organize? Is your current organizational system failing you? Email me with your organizational blunder, and help could be on its way, as your blunder could be featured on The Organized Mama!
Disclaimer: All products and thoughts are my own. I was not paid to promote any of the products listed in this post. I actually use every product that I listed in this post.