My nesting instincts have been afoot and toy organization has been on the receiving end of some major purging! We’ve been working on slimming down toy collections to just the absolute favorites. It was time; I was discouraged coming across bins of mismatched toys that end up getting trashed or forgotten because of the hot mess. I’ve had my thinking cap on as I explored storage ideas so thought I’d share a few that keep us on track!
Keep like things together — It’s amazing to see how exciting things look after putting them in their right spots with their accompanying items. We’ve been categorizing our toys, to some extent, for awhile now and as the kids age, the items become more specific. We are currently organizing based on what an item actually is. Our main baskets are dedicated to:
Vehicles |Music | Blocks | Sports (indoor only) | Dress up | Duplos | Baby | Puzzles
We make sure the main baskets contain baby safe items. Our youngest is currently 18 months so she can pretty much access and be safe getting into any of these baskets. They are all easily accessible 🙂 The links to the baskets we use are below.
If something doesn’t apply to these categories—which I’m sure will ebb and flow with ages—we try to figure out how it would be categorized. For example, all play kitchen accessories remain in the play kitchen and we organize them there. Doll house furniture and dolls stays in the doll house and we organize it before closing up shop. We have a book shelf, separate area downstairs for crafts and coloring items, and then ample outdoor storage for all our balls, ride-on vehicles and scooters, etc. We also have storage for small or specific play sets (doctor set, lego sets).
Clean house — so you can see what’s really there! We donated and/or recycled things that weren’t so exciting anymore, or things that weren’t part of a set and lost their luster. If I ask the kids what they love before we do a giveaway, they’re suddenly into everything they have! Which is ok, I am okay to keep things when they’re still interesting. When I notice a bin is filling up and you can’t easily grab what’s in there, I know it’s time to dwindle things down. I try not to keep too much on hand; we don’t need that much to stay occupied.
Arrange toy sets together with clear boxes/bags — this refers to those smaller sets and like items that one, aren’t baby safe, two, usually don’t have a category within the main baskets and three, belong to somebody specific. We use slender clear boxes (a few links below) with different color lids to keep these items together. I am in the process of taking pictures of what things look like (assembled if possible) so that will act as a label.
We do this with Lego sets, keeping the instructions and entire set together. Kate’s Calico Critters have these extremely tiny pieces (they’re even hard for me to use, tiny hand prejudice!) and would be an absolute mess without careful keeping. Luke’s Lightning McQueen car sets could easily be tossed into the main vehicle basket but they were gifted to him very specifically so we decided they would be cars he plays during quiet time or just on his own. This way, they can easily see where these toys are and grab the entire box for play when the time comes.
Help them take pride in it — I made sure to include my big kids in this process and it’s truly shocking to see how they desire to keep things up with me. I love watching them quietly remember where something goes and returning it to the right spot!
And then sometimes it’s just crazy messy — On those days, I can fall back on the fact that eventually, everything will get back to it’s place, since everything has one, and meanwhile, we will survive 🙂 Happy organizing!