I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to help you, my loyal readers, with some of your organizational blunders! I’ve asked on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and have gotten a few emails about spaces you need organizational help with, and the responses have been amazing! I can’t wait to help give some fun and interesting ideas to help you tackle the clutter in your home so you can spend less time searching and more time playing!
This week (and the next few weeks), are all about toys! I received so many questions in regard to toy storage that I am going to take my time and (hopefully) help everyone with some ideas to keep those toys organized.
Toy storage is a huge problem since they just seem to multiply overnight. Today, we are focusing on toys in the living space. One reader wrote that her kiddos main play areas are in the living room and basement. Her problem is that the toys in the living room have started to take over the space, which is driving her nuts! The corner that they toys are stored isn’t cutting it for her any more. She said that she has already moved toys to the basement, but it’s not helping, so she is in need of some additional suggestions to tame the toys.
Suggestion 1: Storage
We need to find you 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 utilizing 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 would 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 might also be helpful to get a large bin like a laundry hamper to store them in so they can stay contained in something.
If you are in need of storage, there are countless ways to create that! One of my favorite products is from The Land of Nod called the storagepalooza. It can hold soooo many toys/books/junk, looks nice, and you can move it around your house once the kids grow up.
Another option is to purchase the Kallax from IKEA. You can create shelving that will 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 could use to store the toys. Or getting 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 where you will store the toys, the fun really starts…Organizing! I would suggest going into the basement, where all of the toys are, with all of the toys from the living room to start organizing. Start grouping ALL of the toys into categories. All play food together, puzzles, games, tools, etc.
Once all the toys are categorized, look to see if there are any toys that are missing any pieces, broken, or a toy the kids have outgrown. Take all of those toys out of the equation. Do not show any emotional connection to any of these toys or they will keep piling up. I know it can be tough to do, but it is the only way you can get your toys organized. I have two toys in each of my kiddos baby boxes that I saved. The rest went to friends, family, donations or garbage. Just keep reminding yourself that someone else could benefit from a toy your children don’t play with any more.
You should be down to the bare bones of the toy collection. Not saying that you don’t have any toys, just saying that all of the toys you are keeping 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!)
I made the decision to keep all of our toy bins the exact same, 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 really 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 are going to have to teach the kids how to keep it organized. Once you get the area clean and organized, you will need to spend at least a week on how you want the kids to clean up. I suggest starting with putting toys in bins once they are done playing. Once they have begun to do this independently, I would move to labeling the bins. Show them how to put things away in the correct bin. I would start with one area of the house at a time.
By breaking organizing down into steps, you are allowing your children to become independent in cleaning and 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, at the end of the day, we put all the toys back in the bins they belong. Usually we have a few toys that were downstairs make their way upstairs. I will either have someone put it 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 could also keep an extra bin for toys that need to be put away in a different location.) Right now, we are still working on only cleaning up the play room before bedtime because I am still working with my toddler to become independent with clean-up. I clean up the basement once they are asleep. My goal is to have the kids clean up after they are done playing with an area of the house.
This process has helped me organize our toys. It does take time, effort and thought to remember to do this every day. By having a specific storage location for the toys, keeping toys categorized, along with teaching the kids how to organize themselves, you should be on the right track to taming the toys!
Do you have an area of your home you would like help with? Is there a space that you can’t figure out an organizational system that would work? 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.