There’s just a few more days of the Ultimate Blog Party sponsored by 5minutesformom. This blog hop has been a great way to meet so many other wonderful mom bloggers!
Congratulations to these three winners who participated in yesterday’s discussion on marriage. They will win a CD of my workshop, Love For A Lifetime.
- Jane (Roe)
- Alexandra (Howard)
I’ll be sending each of you an email with instructions for getting your CD!
If you’re dropping by for the first time, welcome! We discuss everything from marriage to mothering and from home organization to living with less. We’ve got a great online moms group here in the blog world!
I’ve been doing a room makeover at my house. We’ve been lucky to have an extra room in our home that we’ve used as a toy room for years. With our youngest child now 14, we don’t really have alot of need for toys on a daily basis. Now, I am a Nana and my sweet granddaughter Rilyn is turning a year old this month so I do still have a need for toys, but just not quite as many as we’ve had in the past.
Over the years of raising 5 kids, I discovered some great ways to keep toys organized. Here is one that has worked well:
Our toys were organized in plastic drawers. The nice thing about this system was that when someone wanted to play with dinosaurs, we’d just pull out the dinosaur drawer and put it on the floor for them to play with. Same with Legos, or action figures, pretend food, or baby toys.
Today I’m giving away two copies of the Hearts at Home book Getting and Staying Organized by Karen Ehman. To enter the drawing to win one of these copies, simply share your best toy organization idea.
This blog is a place where we can learn from each other. If you need organization inspiration, don’t just read my posts, but also click on “comments” at the bottom of every post and read through the other ideas shared. (If you read my blog in email, you’ll need to go to jillsavage.org to read the comments.)
What about you? What’s your best toy organization idea?
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My favourite idea for organising toys is one I probably like more than the kids. That is keeping fewer toys and passing on some when an area starts becoming cluttered and hard to keep organised. For example we just sorted through the dolls and teddys bucket today because they were overflowing. Now we have a few to give to the second hand store.
I don’t have any children yet but I keep toys on hand for my nieces and nephews. I actually also use plastic drawers. Its easy for them to get into but still keeps them out of the way. I have the two bottom drawers filled with toys and the top drawer has bubble blow, play dough, crayons, coloring books, and construction paper. They know they have to ask to get into the top drawer.
we used stackable recycling bins to organize a lot of toys – worked well for the large collections of cars and star wars things.
For taming those wild stff animals, I’ve emptied a bean bag of it’s stuffing and filled it with the animals. They have easy access to them when needed, but otherwise they are out of sight and they can still use the beanbag.
Love this idea!
I use clear plastic shoe boxes with labels. Some of the labels have pictures on them.
I love the idea of pictures on the drawers to help the kids learn where things go back!
For stuffed animals, I have a bean bag with zippers so they can be stuffed inside. It’s like this: http://www.amazon.com/Boon-Oval-Animal-Bag-Pink/dp/B000NVXBVG
And then for smaller toys (blocks, Little People, girly accessories, baby toys, My Little Pony, etc.), I use a wooden shelf with slots for nine cloth bins. I’ve also attached pictures of what goes in each bin so my almost 4-year-old and her friends can help clean up.
For the large toy sets (Little People, dress up clothes) we have 18 gallon rubbermaid storage bins in the guest room closet. This way, they only take out one at a time and clean up goes much more quickly.
When our kids were littler and had more toys, they each had a plastic tub that their toys went in. Then we had a tub for toys that were both of theirs (not just girls toys and not just boys toys). We had huge cupboards in our family room and those tubs went in there when they weren’t playing. Worked really well!
We have 4 medium bins we rotate so the girls always have ‘new’ toys to play with. If we find our toy collection outgrowing their bins…its time to sort & donate. We also sort & donate before birthdays & Christmas.
We use the plastic drawers as well, in the playroom and my kids’ rooms. My tip, though, is to use small wicker trunks in the living room or other places where the kids might play, but you want to be able to hide the toys! I love the trunks – the kids each have one and they make for quick clean up. And once they are closed, voila – no more toys in the living room!
Have a blessed day!
I have just a couple of things that I do at home that have really helped keep my 5-year old daughter’s room somewhat organized. Jocelyn (my daughter) has a lot of stuffed animals, which I’m pretty sure most kids do….so I have one of those nets hanging in the corner of her room, and when it gets too full, she has to choose a few that we can donate. My other recommendations is not to have too much. For instance, last Christmas Jocelyn got so much stuff from my husband and I, not to mention the rest of the family, and I know she still has stuff from Christmas that she hasn’t touched. She plays so much better with a few nice presents, than she does with a truckload. AND, it is much easier to keep clean and organized!
I use storage totes for our kids bigger toys and have them labeled. For their smaller toys I use clear storage containers so they can see what is in them. They have a cabinet in their room that had doors on it where the small totes are stored.
If you have children who have lots of coloring books. I had them on shelf but it just got to messy and so i got a big rectangle bin and but all the coloring books in that standing upright. Now the kids can go through like a filing system they pick the one they want and put it back when they’re done. It has never been a mess since.
All of my kids each have 2 or 3 totes depending on the size of the toys. so they don’t get each others totes messed up they all have a different colored lid.
Canvas bins and baskets have worked great for us- they fit perfectly on the bookshelf we have that doubles as a changing table and look nice too. 🙂
I use a lower cabinet in the kitchen as an art supply/play dough cabinet, so that those things are easily accessible and to encourage messes to stay at the kitchen table. 🙂
We live in a two story house. I quickly grew tired of carting toys up and down the stairs everytime we cleaned up. Now I’ve got a plastic tub in the living room. When we pick up toys downstairs we just put them in the tub. About once a week, the tub fills up and I take all the toys back upstairs to her toybox in one trip.
We have one of those built-in desks in our kitchen that we don’t use. So, I made a curtain on a tension rod and placed it under the counter, where a desk chair would normally be. All the kid’s coloring books, crayons, stickers, and paper are in plastic drawers in that little nook. I love getting use out of an otherwise useless space!
Good idea and definitely good use of space!
We have had great success with rubber maid bins. For one thing we keep a few out at a time and then we swap them out so that the kids have “new” toys every so often. We also take a picture of what goes in each bin and secure it to the front of the bin with clear contact paper. It makes clean up a lot easier. If we are having a dinner party or something we can take the bins and put them away for the night since there are only a few. 😉
I forgot another tip I use…for puzzles we use ziplock bags, I cut the front of the box off with the picture on it and assign it a number, then put it in the bag, then I mark each of the puzzle pieces in that puzzle with the same number. No more mixed up puzzle pieces and wondering where it goes. 🙂 Oh and it helps to write out how many pieces go with that puzzle at the bottom too so you know if it is complete or not.
I used to do the same thing when I taught Kindergarten and now I do it at home 🙂
Get your kids involved! As your kids get old enough to put toys away let them help keep it organized and put away. I think it helps them have better ownership over the toys! And I can’t help but say…. bins, bins, bins!
I do struggle with affordable ways to keep toys organized (the bins and drawers are expensive). One way I am finding to keep the smaller toys for my older child together are to pick up small plastic bins at the dollar store, and that helps keep little dolls sets etc. together, and doesn’t cost me an arm and a leg
You might try checking thrift stores…they always have baskets and bins for way cheap. 🙂 Plus if you wanted them to have some uniformity you can spray paint them (if they are baskets) so they are all the same color, or tie them in together by hot gluing a button, ribbon, or bow , or flower on each one in the same style, pattern, or color.
Great idea, Jenna, about spray painting them all the same color or adding something to them to give them uniformity!
We do the same as you with the plastic drawer bins, but we have pictures of each type of toy on the outside of the drawers, so that the kids are more likely to get the right toy in the right spot.
Rubbermaid type totes work great for Legos! 🙂
We had an old dresser that wasn’t being used and so we put that in a closet to organize paper, crayons, pencils pens and coloring books. It keeps them from spreading out.
We have really been convicted lately to get rid of most toys though. They have so much and if there is a problem keeping them put away, they really should go.
Thanks so much for this post today, just what I needed.
We also use plastic bins and have them labeled with pictures. Around Christmas time my kids help me sort their toys and choose places to donate them (some go to our church nursery/toddler room or to family friends having a new baby, etc.) I also have plastic tubs for games, play-doh, and coloring supplies so we can get one out to bring to the table and everything goes right back in when we’re done.
In the living room I have wicker baskets slid under the bay window shelves. In their bedrooms I have rectangle clear totes that slide under their beds – filled with cars, books, barbies, etc. I have the rolling carts in closets with additional toys, coloring books, craft supplies, etc. Still find my house feels cluttered and unorganized!!
When my five boys were smaller, we had the colored bins in the wood holder. Every week, I went in and organized these toys (and drove myself crazy) with it. Now that they are older, they are into action figures, Legos and Bionicles. They are allowed to spend their birthday money on these things, too. When we were walking around and talking at Walmart one day, they said they needed new containers for their toys. I suggested we go to the “container” aisle, and we saw the ziploc (food) containers. There was several in a package, very inexpensive, and they were just the right size for their toys. They even had coupons glued to the label! So, they thought they were pretty cool buying their own containers and using coupons, just like mom. I like these containers because they fit under beds and in small spaces. I let them believe this was their idea as it has given them power to think outside the box… truth is, I just gave a little nudge. I have not had little pieces lying around, either. It worked!
My favorite toy storage idea was one my husband came up with. We bought a nice, heavy duty tackle box. Our girls use it for all their Barbie accessories. It makes clean up and organization of all the little pieces wonderful!
Great idea for Barbie stuff!
Love this post and always looking for more organizing ideas. Two alternates to bins below.
We use a large dresser/chest in our son’s room and keep the bottom three drawers for toys. This works well because he can just open the drawers and toss in toys when cleaning up. The stuffed animals live in a pop-up hamper. Next up will be shelving for the lego models. Lego storage could have its own blogging category for sure!
In our baby’s room we shelved the closet top to bottom leaving the clothes rod and room for hanging items; luckily baby clothes are short:). We put small baskets of bibs, hats, socks labeled on one shelf, stacks of burp cloths, blankets and sheets on one shelf and larger tubs on the floor. As she grows up and her clothes get longer, we can remove one shelf at a time as needed. This has worked great for us.
Very cute.. this would work with lego pieces too!
I like the idea of a pop-up hamper for stuffed animals!
I try to avoid accumulating so many toys. My daughter receives enough toys, games etc. from family, that we have decided to celebrate holidays and events with “experiences” (and memories) as a gift, rather than more toys. We plan a special day with activities that we normally wouldn’t do or go places that we normally wouldn’t go – whether for a day or a weekend. My husband is great and works many hours, so this is great for us to spend time together as well. I take pictures and it is so much fun to look back through the albums together and remember the fun we had. It really has helped us realize that quality family time is more important than “stuff”!
I love this Becky! Good for you!
We built two new sheds in our backyard. One is for the kids and their outside toys. They have also put art and craft supplies out there. It gets them out of the house and into their own little world 🙂
While I don’t have children yet, I am trying to hone those skills before they start to show up! I love the idea of storing all of the different types of toys in plastic drawers, that way things don’t get lost! That is also the way I try to keep my house organized, by using tubs for gift bags and wrapping paper, knitting yarn, camping stuff, etc.
My favorite organization trick for toys is using a over the door shoe holder. You can put almost everything in there. When my daughter played with Barbie’s she use to place one in each slot completely dressed and then the one next to it would be that dolls favorite clothes and shoes.
blessings & giggles!
With 4 children, we used to have many, many toys. I finally organized all the toys into various totes and rotated them to see what was played with the most. Those toys that rarely got played with got donated. We now have fewer bins of toys and the children are more imaginative with their play. We love to live simply and are always looking for more ways to simplify and organize our lives.
Rotating only certain toys into the “available to be played with” stash – that way there’s always “new” toys when boredom sets in.
We have 2 boys – 11 and 8 and I think we could build an addition to our house with all of the Legos that our boys have! One weekend, I finally took the plunge to organize their behemoth mountain of Legos since I could not bear the idea of hearing endless requests for finding this-n-such little Lego to build something. We have 3 basic items that have helped tremendously. 1. A wooden rack that holds the open plastic toy bins. Each bin holds one color of Lego – mostly the larger blocks. The largest bins hold black, light gray, dark gray, and white Legos since we have the most of those. 2. Medium plastic drawers (like in Jill’s picture). Each drawer holds Legos of a particular color. These can be used in place of the open bin system in #1 and they fit nicely in a closet. These drawers are also perfect to hold the Lego building instruction books. I organize the instruction books by theme by using large Ziploc bags. e.g. all of the Star Wars building instructions are in a bag together – this makes for easy retrieval! 3. Small plastic drawers. You’d find these in the same section of Target/Walmart as the larger drawers. These work brilliantly for the little Lego pieces! We have lots of these so that we can separate little pieces by color. These are also perfect for separating Lego accessories – body parts, hats, tools/weapons – you can even have a drawer for just Star Wars guys if you want! Although this sounds like overkill, and although it took a large chunk of time to do the sorting, I am a liberated mom! Not only do my boys have a specific place to put their Legos, they know where to find what they want when they want it. They can easily locate the building instructions for whatever set they want to rebuild, they can easily put away the pieces when they are done building, and they can readily find all of the pieces they need when they want to build something – whether it be free-building or building from and instruction book. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to help locate some random Lego piece and for that, I am so grateful!
Wow Missy! This is a great idea, especially if you have Lego fans in the house!
Love this idea! As a “lego” mom of 4 boys – the oldest 16, the youngest 3 – we also have a huge amount of legos. Right now, the 2 youngest just have access to 1 bin of them as I was tired of picking them up. I have often thought of how to keep them sorted by color. I really like this idea! thanks!
I think sometimes the only key to organizing is “dumping.” Every birthday and Christmas the kids have to fill a garbage bag worth of toys for donation.
My favorite way of organizing and storing toys is to rotate them every few months. Toys could be placed in rubbermaid containers and transferred to either the garage, basement, or other available area. In this way, the fresh toys seem like getting brand new ones and there’s less cleanup involved as well. Keep on eye for sales on organizing containers in such places as Wal-Mart and Target. Yard sales are also a great place to find inexpensive baskets. Clean coffee cans, chocolate milk mix canisters, and tote bags can hold all kinds of things.
I like rotating toys too! It keeps the playroom tidy and when we rotate, it feels a little like Christmas…the toys have a NEW feel to them again!
I enjoy having nice big bookshelves! We love books, and love having them on the shelves where we can find one easily. On some shelves, I have baskets with toys sorted according to category….looks nice and is practical.
I try to always declutter before Christmas and birthdays.
Small “gently” used toys get donated to pre-K and kindergarten teachers for their treasure boxes. Classroom teachers are always appreciative of these items and educational toys for center use….
Larger toys to friends, or garage sale boxes for local cub scouts.
Books, furniture, storage containers, etc. to church, if needed. The Sunday School classrooms get new toys, and can declutter their older toys.
I also donate books to school for kids that need books at home that can’t afford or need extra reading help.
Rubbermaid bins of various sizes are used for everything around here. If I’d known, I would have bought stock in Rubbermaid back before I had kids:)
Last week I bought a clear, rectangular, deep storage box with a lid that my 4 year old can remove herself and put in it all the coloring books, activity books, sticker books, etc. This box lives in a bottom cabinet that she can access herself. I got a matching box, but more shallow, for all the crayons, markers, colored pencils, etc. which stacks in the same cabinet on top of the deeper box. We have a similar box for all the Play-Doh related items. I also have a 1 yr old who has different toy “needs” (if there is such a thing). So his grab-n-go baby toys that end up strewn about the living room floor multiple times on a daily basis, live in a rectangular, decorative basket that fits on the shelf under our coffee table. It works great. He can pull the basket off the shelf himself, or his sister can get it down for him to distract him from taking her things. And clean-up is accomplished in under a minute. I also rotate different things in and out of that basket for him.
I am lucky enough to have a large server that has deep drawers, one for each of the grandkids! Books, small toys, games and craft supplies fit nicely into it!! we also have one corner of a guest room for bins for bigger toys. Thanks for all the other ideas…my mind is churning!!
For American Girl doll outfits, a daughter uses a over the door shoe holder, putting each outfit in a pocket keeping the outfit together. We have under the bed storage plastic containers that hold my son’s match box cars in his room that he can pull out when he wants to play with his town rug that is part of his room decor all the time.
We use the plastic buckets like Jill’s for Barbies and labeled them: purses/shoes/hats, food/dishes/clothing/bedding/small furniture/etc stuff and the Barbies go in plastic containers: girl barbies/kens/children-skippers
We used a bookshelf and bought inexpensive cloth buckets on clearance at Wal-Mart (dorm ideas) for Playmobil toys and labeled the toys.
I use plastic dishpans for books esp the soft cover kids books–easy to flip through and find and easy to put away.
I think you have to experiment some and find a system that works for your child(ren). Some kids can handle sorting out every little piece while others need a simple as possible approach. I wish there was a toy vacuum that could come and clean it up, but that is part of learning–putting it all away 😀
I make use of containers that held baby wipes. They are great for all those little “treasures” that get lost in large containers. It’s a great way to recycle them, too. Now that my kids are older and out of diapers, I find I miss those containers when I am looking to store new toys.
wipes containers are great for storing crayons, markers, pencils, child size scissors etc. I also use a couple for extra shopping bags in my kitchen. 😉
I love wipes containers for refrigerator magnets!
We have a big built in book case in the front room and two of the shelf have baskets for toys. I found pictures of the toys (little people, balls, car, misc, etc) using google images and printed them out. I used my fancy laminator that was wrapping it in packing tape, punched a hole and tied it on the baskets. That has helped keep the toys organized and also helps when friends come over they know where things go as well. There is a post about on my blog, it hasn’t been updated in a long time, only so much time in the day and maybe someday I will get back to it.
Wow! What great ideas. I think I could really use this book! We use plastic bins and storage boxes as well. My best tip is that everything needs a place – especially so that the kids know where to put things back. We also do a lot of shifting of toys and donating like other people have mentioned.
When my girls were little had lots of Barbie stuff and small Polly Pocket items. I just used the Ziploc bags appropriate for whatever I was trying to organized. There is a space to take a Sharpie and write on it what’s supposed to go in that bag. It’s great for Barbie clothes, shoes, and for Jewelry–use the snack size. Then all of this stuff can go in a nice looking basket. When it’s time to play–everything is organized–even Barbie gets a bag.
Currently my motto is to ‘simplify.’ I have an 8 month old, and he has one blue bin filled with toys so for right now that is our organization. I have had to control my desire to get him all the toys in the world and hold fast to a few that he can play with. As his one year birthday approaches I have some ideas of toys for him (which will extend past the blue bin), at that point I will have to decide the method for keeping the toys, I might swap the old toys (put them in storage) and fill the blue bin with the new toys. I know I will designate one area/corner of the living room for toys/baby items. And for those of you who might think one bin of toys is not enough, he is crawling now and everything of mommy and daddy is like a toy to him.
we have some big tubs… one for Thomas Trains, one for all the play kitchen food and accessories in the general play area
then each of the kids have some shoe box size boxes for the legos and little pieces toys (Army men, starwars for my son, little pet shop, strawberry shortcakes, etc for the girls)
lately, thought even that doesn’t seem to be working… I might have to go the plastic dresser route! 🙂
We use a wooden shelf thing from IKEA in one kids’ room. The other kid has a similar thing that we discovered isn’t good quality in her room. The one from IKEA has plastic bins that slide out. We really liked this one because later we can put wooden shelves in and use it as a bookcase. Organizing toys is not my strong suit. Things are usually pretty jumbled.
I use the open colored bins where each bin has it’s own type of toy. I also use the cube-type self system with fabric bins. I really dislike toys bins/toy boxes as toys tend to get lost down in there!
I often wonder why Rubbermaid drawers/boxes/containers etc. aren’t hailed as necessities when first time parents take their babies home. We would not survive without them! Specific boxes for GeoTrax & a set of drawers for all the play kitchen necessities keep our living room a living room & not a dying to be found another day room. Larger, but much more shallow boxes are home to a plethora of kinex pieces in our kids’ bedroom, not to mention the bigger, deeper one for Imaginext castle & accessories!
We simply use plastic bins in the living room that our young children can reach into and grab out as well as put things away. Where I needed to get organized this year is in the craft supply area. So, we have a closet in the laundry room with shelves and I’ve placed similar items in clear bins so the kids can think about what they want, see it and tell me which bin to get down. It makes me more likely to do crafty things when it’s more organized for me and the kids:)
Home organization is where I totally fall down on the job. With 5 kids 10, 8, and triplet 6 y/o’s, I can’t keep up. A dear friend thought she’d help by bringing over huge bins, but that has definitely not worked well. They either don’t play with stuff in the large bin (cuz they don’t know where it is). Or they dump them all out and can’t walk in their room. We are in the midst of redecorating the girl’s room and I’m trying to work in more organization type items. These are some great ideas! Thanks!
Great ideas-thanks for posting this question Jill. We do something similar to others– our kids have clear shoe boxes with a picture of the toy/game and the name of it taped to the outside of the box. We also installed wire closet organizers in each of their closets, so they actually have shelves that can hold their toys and games. We also have wicker baskets that we use to pick up the little random toys (matchbox cars, trains, etc). My daughter has 2 empty drawers in her dresser where she keeps her american girl doll clothes and extra books/ drawings she’s working on.
Right now, I am struggling with the bigger “toys”– the American girl accessories (crib, high chair) or the train track/ race tracks. They take up so much space, and don’t really have a home. I would love words of advice on that!
Sunny, my girls had American girl dolls and accessories. They kept them in their room, with the smaller accessories in a basket. It wasn’t terribly creative but it worked ok!
Sunny, see Kari’s suggestion above, too!
I have a storage cube/coffee table that is in our family room for all the toys of my 2 year old would play with while her brothers and sister are at school.
For the boys toys, I have the plastic drawer system in their closet. There is one for cars, legos, and farm toys.
For my daughter who loves horses, we have a desk, that she isn’t quite ready to use for school yet, but the drawers contain the little toys her sister isn’t allowed to play with and all the horses!
For all the craft, coloring books,and playdoh stuff, I have added the stackable plastic dividers that you would find in a office (like a in/out box). They divide the coloring books, paper, school work books. For the bigger crafts, I use the bins that stack but you would usually use for onions and potatoes. These are all in one side of my pantry. I also have a latch on the door, becuase I have a little ones that like to make me pretty pictures with finger paints and markers on walls!
A great -aunt made for us a Beanie-Baby Keeper for each of our children since Grandma was keeping them in Beanie Babies. This large fabric square covered with pockets had its own dowel rod and hanger; a stuffed animal went in each pocket and it hung on the back of the bedroom door. When playtime was over, clean-up was a breeze!
I use plastic dishpans I bought from Dollar General, they are white, easy to clean and just the right size. I put them in each of the kids’ rooms and downstairs too. They even fit well underneath the coffee table. The kids can pull the bins out, take them to different rooms and put their toys away. They blend in better with our decor than bright/bold kids toy boxes. They can also be emptied out and used to wash something in or soak your feet so they are multi-purpose:) And everything must have it’s own “place” in our house too.
Mesh hampers are great for stuffed animals. You can just stuff them in. We also use an over the door shoe organizer for Barbie dolls.
I LOVE to organize and with 4 kids and a mobile home-space is limited. I am always looking for ways to get more space out of areas. For kids toys we have a 5×3 cube (from target) that we’ve bolted together and to the wall in the hallway by the kids rooms. Easy access and my rule is that they just keep the toys out of the hallway. I also have over the door “shoe” keepers which hold not only shoes but hats, mittens, sunglasses, portable DVD accessories and more. This keeps stuff accessable but out of the way. Since I needed more room for sippy’s and bottles I bought shelf dividers for my cup-Awesome. My best advice…purge. As a child I collected elephants and I had a ton. My husband wasn’t a fan of the decor and I was outgrowing the collection. At first it was hard because I didn’t want to offend the givers but then I realized two things: 1. most givers (including myself) cannot remember what they got last year for you let alone 10 years ago and 2. those givers rarely come to my home…would they notice if I didn’t have _ item? Also for my kids I have asked family members to not get them stuffed animals as they have already reached their limit.
I just remembered a magazine article on recycling… Here are organizations that take gently used stuffed animals and gives them to children. I think you have to pay shipping, but I’m going to look into them as a great way to clear clutter in our house and put smiles on less fortunate faces 🙂
Thanks for the great website reference!
We use several of the strategies listed above. We have some canvas totes in each area of the house that has toys… thus making it easy to keep each room cleaned up. We have some fun shelves that are used for puzzles, cars, games etc. And a cabinet in the basement for family games and matchbox sets. Coloring books and paper are kept in an extra lower cabinet by the kitchen table, tho crayons and markers and pla-doh are kept in the pantry so that an adult has to retrieve those. AND we often sort through the toys and donate items as are youngest out grows them.
I still have a lot to learn about organization, but we also use tubs & bins at our house. I’ve also let my oldest daughter have a “cubbie” a lower shelf in our china cabinet in our kitchen where she can display all of her treasures and I don’t bother them as long as they are put in there. I’ve used a hanging sweater organizer in the closet by our back door for playdough, coloring books and other art supplies. My girls can reach what they need and I still have a spot for my shoes underneath. As for all of the kids meals toys we’ve collected, we are slowly teaching our girls about really examining whether they will play with the toy and if not (which is usually the case), we keep them in a box (that is up & out of reach in a closet) and use them as Operation Christmas Child shoebox fillers, “gifts” to open on long trips or on an airplane or I’ve given them to our daughter’s preschool for their prize box.
Wow! Lot’s of wonderful ideas! I have used lots of clear storage bins over the years. Fortunately, we are about out of the toy stage — this go around.
We used to have a toy box that looked like a storage trunk. It was a perfect place to store all of my daughter’s dress up clothes.
We also have a lot of fun with costumes (Halloween) and re-use them many times. I keep each costume along with all it accessories in a large pillowcase. Then all of the pillowcases are stored together in one big storage bin.
Oooo…I like the pillowcase idea!
I like to rotate toys so that they seem new and fresh to the kiddos! I also have a bin for each child with toys their age so they can each have some things to call their own.
I have plastic totes for toys too big for plastic drawers, but I also have a basket that holds books. When my two big girls were little, we had a lot of books get ruined, so when my two little girls started reading books this basket worked well. It sets by their ‘recliner’ chair.
This is an area I definitely could use the help in. We do have separate bins for cars, dress up, blocks, tea party, and animals. However, the kids still take out more than one bin at a time when playing.
One trick I did learn for puzzles though is that each box has a colored sticker dot, and the pieces each have that same color dot on the box. That way when the kids have more than one puzzle out at a time, it is easy to sort the pieces again by matching the colored dots on the pieces to the colored dot on the box.
Great puzzle trick! Thank you for sharing!
My current form of toy organization is baskets everywhere. It is rather chaotic. I have tried lots of different ways, but my 5 year old is very messy and nothing seems to keep it organized.
With 4 under the age of 7, the battle for toy organization is never ending. Our best contender at the moment also seems to be the plastic drawer and tub system, with pictures tapped to the fronts for the little non-readers and the words right below it for the bigger guys. Our play room is in our basement and we have one extra basket up in the living to catch the stragglers that make it up. Once a week the kiddos take turns bringing the basket downstairs and sorting the toys into their correct drawer. The front way closet also has a set of the drawers all labeled for coloring books, work books, homework helpers (flash cards, foam clocks, rulers, laminated number grids) and then a plastic shoe box up top with the paints and play-doh so they have to ask to play with these things. We also have a 12 slot shoe organizer that I have various supply boxes tucked in a few of the slots, each a different color so each kid has appropriate aged crayons/markers/pencils etc. I love the other idea for doll clothes, and books. Time for more planning………..
Lots of great ideas posted. We have a very large shelving unit that my husband built for the the kids’ playroom. (It’s a Pottery Barn knock off, but way cheaper when you make it yourself!!!) Much like many of the previous suggestions, we use clear, plastic, labeled bins, that are stored inside the cabinet. For larger items like board games, we forgo the bins, and just allot one cabinet where they can all be housed together. Same with the puzzles. When the boxes to puzzles get ripped beyond compare, we organize in plastic bags. The key is that everything has a place, and as long as the kids know where that place it, there is no reason they can’t put it away (sounds good in theory, anyway! 😉 And we try very hard to abide by the one in – one out plan. In order for something new to come into the house, they have to pick one thing to go.
I use the Target cubbies with the collapsable, fabric cubes in their playroom along with bookshelves and plastic totes and plastic boxes. Last year, I painstakingly printed off labels for each bin and put the label above the cubbies and on all the plastic totes and boxes. My (then) 2 year old daughter took off every single label, stuck them together in a stack, and brought the stack of labels to me. I love that funny kid! But I never did reattach all those labels!
Someone else’s comment reminded me of this. We’re also realizing that our kids have TOO MANY Toys. So for their birthdays this spring, instead of buying them lots of new toys (they’re turning 6 and 3), we got them just one really special gift. It’s easier for organizing and easier on the budget. Plus the special gift is something they’re going to enjoy and want to keep for a long time, not just until their next birthday.
I love using ClosetMaid Cubeicals & canvas cubes!!! These are great for all of those little toys that you just aren’t sure where too put. This storage system is inexpensive & very easy to maintain. Label each basket with words or pictures so your kids can clean up on their own.
I have a 1 y.o., a 2 y.o., and 4 y.o. Sometimes it feels like I live in Toys R Us! Like many others, I have opted for the picture/word labels for our toy containers. I use a wooden system from IKEA with their white bins. I use velcro to attach my labels so that I can easily change the contents so my kids feel like they’re playing with “new” toys. The labels make it easier for play date guests to help clean up too!
I was getting really annoyed at having to pick up little pieces of “4 hour life-span toys” (i.e., McDonald’s Happy Meal toys and Dollar Store treasures). Finally I started putting these pieces in large ziploc bags and making busy bags that only come out on car trips, waiting rooms, etc. When my third child became mobile, I collected all of the possible choking hazards and used them to make I-Spy bottles.
I’ve realized that the best way to keep toys organized and under control is to not let them accumulate. I’m working on getting better at getting rid of toys. . . lots of work to do in this area!
Thanks for getting this conversation going; there are a lot of great ideas out there!
I love the “I Spy” bottle idea!
I know this was yesterday’s discussion and I don’t know if anyone will still read this, but after reading through many of the comments, there are a few inexpensive containers available that work great for storage. I keep all sorts of containers from food. Oatmeal canisters work great for magnet letters for on the refrigerator. Take the label off and draw or trace a picture of what is inside. I use store bought frosting containers for all sorts of organizing – crayons for on the go work great. The containers fit into the cup holders!!! Nestle quick has a fun shape container and it’s plastic, but it works great for markers, colored pencils, etc. I use ice cream buckets for lego’s – it’s up to the boys how many buckets they want and what colors go into the buckets. And I have a 2 1/2 gallon bucket, that I picked up at the local bakery for the matchbox cars and the small farm equipment that makes their way into our home. Just a few inexpensive organizing ideas!
Robin – just wanted you to know I read your post. I, too, am a day late. Great reusable ideas. Great ideas everyone!