I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and was able to visit with family and friends! The days right after Christmas day always leave me antsy to go through my children’s toys, get rid of the things they rarely play with and organize all the new toys they’ve received. If you have little ones, you know that their toys take up lots of room since they can’t have many little pieces. I have one child who is old enough to handle toys with little pieces and one child who needs to be kept away from small pieces, so we are in an interesting middle ground. After a few years of trying various organizing strategies for their toys, the following setup is working really well for us and wasn’t hard to incorporate the new toys received at Christmas into the mix.
First of all, our children do not have a “play room.” I know many parents who do this and it works for them because all of the toys stay in one centralized location (and you can close the door when it gets too crazy in there haha). I found that one room with all the toys was simply overwhelming for my children and they didn’t actually play with their toys much. We also do not have the luxury of an extra room just for toys now that we have two children in a three bedroom home. As with everything, find what works for you and go with it.
What has worked well for us is to rotate out toys. Sometimes it is parent-led rotation, sometimes my son will ask to swap out toys. By doing so, I find that my children feel like they’ve received new toys since they haven’t seen the stored ones in a while. So how do I keep everything stored whether it’s being played with or put away? Ikea to the rescue! We purchased this awesome sofa table (IKEA Hemnes Console Table) and the boxes that go in it from Ikea and had it shipped to our home (along with various other furniture purchases to save on shipping) instead of driving 5+ hours to our closest store.
The baskets on the top shelf come from Homegoods (another one of my favorite stores). They hold mostly books and puzzles, with a basket or two for the random little toys children acquire that don’t really fit into any other categories. The boxes, from Ikea, are perfect because they have lids (to contain and hide all the “mess” of toys) and can be taken out and brought to whichever room the kids are playing in at the time. They also limit the amount of toys that can be kept – if it doesn’t fit in the container, it needs to go or something else needs to go to make room for it. (This is a great opportunity to teach your child about donating to those who have less.)
As far as the toys that are out of rotation at the time, they are kept in clear plastic containers (that can easily be found at Walmart or Target) at the top of my son’s closet. He also has a few bins at the bottom of his closet for some of the larger accessories. For example, all the superhero action figures and their small accessories are kept in the box at the top of the closet (or the gray box in our living room if he’s chosen that set at the moment), but the bat cave, bat car, etc. are kept in the orange bin at the bottom of his closet because it just doesn’t fit in the clear container at the top. If you have the room for it, you can simply buy larger containers to keep it all together, but we are working with the setup we have currently.
Another advantage to this system is that its easier to say “you have to pick up all the toys from this box before taking out another,” if you chose to do so. I don’t usually, however, simply because I like the creativity that is encouraged by mixing the types of toys. Maybe my son has chosen his box of Magna-tiles and his box of cars at the moment. He may build a garage for all the cars with the Magna-tiles, for example.
My daughter is still young, so she has less collections of toys (although they are growing), so she has a few toys in the gray boxes and then the rest are in a toy box (from when I was a child) that is in another room in the house. I’m sure in the next year or so, I’ll begin to set up a system for her similar to the one I have for my son.
How do you organize your children’s toys? What works for you? Let us know in the comments below.