Organizing Kid’s Toys
Adults aren’t the only ones who could use a little organization.
Many of my busy families tell me that they’re lives were calm and organized before they had kids, and one child was ok to keep up with, but when they had their 2nd, the chaos grew exponentially. Their biggest pain point was the explosion of kid’s toys. This happens because:
- Even just a slight age difference when kids are young means that they can’t share the same toys so there’s an entire set of toys per child
- They “inherited” toys from others whose children are now too old to play with them
- Toys are relatively inexpensive and make kids happy for a little while, so every time they’re out or see one on sale they buy a new one
- They have toys that are too old for their kids now but are “saving” them for when they get older
What my busy families want is a way to contain the toys they have to keep the rooms neat, and to store the toys in such a way that it’s easy enough for their toddlers to help pick up. So here’s how:
- Pull everything out and group like items together. If you have toy sets for various ages, separate items into piles first by who they belong to.
- Then group their toys into subcategories based on what type of toy they are, or where they play with them. Put all cars together, dolls together, blocks together, games together, etc.
- Move outdoor toys outside or to a garage, and put any bath toys in the bathroom.
- Now that you can see what you have, decide what can be eliminated. Let it go if they don’t love it, don’t play with it, have outgrown it, or it’s more than 6 months until they grow into it. No use keeping toys around to take up real estate when they’re so readily available when you finally would need them.
- And parents, be sure the toys you keep are because your child likes them, not because you spent money on them or have a fond memory of them playing with something.
- Also, if your child likes cars, it’s not neccessary to keep ALL the cars; pick the faves and let the rest go.
- Kids will play with whatever you put in front of them so not all toys need to be available to them at all times. Set up a “rotating” toy bin and store in another room or an attic so when your kids get bored, you can surprise them with fresh toys — just put the old ones in the rotating bin and store those instead. This will also help reduce the amount of toys they can dump on the floor when they play.
- Choose the right Storage Systems:
- Now that you’ve streamlined your “keep” piles, it’s time to build the right system so everyone can help maintain it. First, it has to be accessible, so small children’s toys should be in reach for their height. Use the lowest closet shelves or baskets on the floor for toddlers so they can reach, and older children can have the upper shelves.
- Whether you keep toys in a closet or toy chest, create “zones” for each child so they have their own area to maintain and know exactly where to look for their own toys. This will prevent them from dumping out EVERYONE’S toys to find the one they want.
- When choosing storage containers, think safety first; toys with small parts should be stored out of reach of tiny hands, and toy chests with heavy lids can crush tiny fingers.
- Get bins or baskets without lids because kids will never take the time to open or close them and they do better with open storage they can dig through or toss things into.
- Ask your child if they want to see all their toys, or if they associate a color with certain toys. If they like to see them, use clear bins to store toys, and if they prefer color, get colored baskets and associate a color for a type of toy. For example, yellow for games, red for cars, blue for blocks, green for dolls, etc.
- Now that you’ve sorted, purged, and determined your storage zones and containers, it’s time to put everything back. Arrange bins with like items in the same area. All car bins on the same shelf, all games on the same shelf, etc.
- Label the containers for each type of toy with both large letters and pictures of what belongs there. That way no matter what age, every child will know exactly what goes where. Try these – I made them to fit the 2″ area on canvas baskets.
- Involve your children by asking them where they want cars to live or dolls to live — they’re more likely to maintain it if they feel ownership.
- Show your kids where you put their things. If they’ve helped you, they’ll already know, but if you’ve done it for them, they can’t be expected to read your mind.
- Teach your kids a “clean up” song so they know when Mommy or Daddy sings, it’s time to clean.
- Make it fun, like a treasure hunt for certain toys and then ask the children to put it in the right “treasure chest,” aka, the appropriate bin.
- Celebrate how well they did when they pick up their own toys so they can be proud of themselves, and stay motivated to clean up next time.
- Don’t overpurchase; think of your space as valuable real estate and only buy what you need when you need it.
- When a new toy comes home, an old toy should leave. If that’s too overwhelming, make it a point to sort and purge every 6 months or after birthdays & holidays so old toys get purged as new favorites come in.
And remember that your kids are growing so fast that the systems need to evolve as they do. Each time you review their toys to see if they’re still age-appropriate, review your organizing system to be sure it still suits your child’s needs.