Ah, toys… The bane of my (reformed) perfectionist tendencies. There they are, strewn across the floor. Stabbing the soles of my feet. What’s that under my pillow? Oh, of course, 13 Megablocks and a Care Bear.
Most days I think our kids would be happy playing with a box of tampons and a bucket. But for the times that just won’t cut it, they have their toys. And while we have culled a lot, they still have more than enough to keep them occupied. The difficulty is keeping them organised.
So before you can worry about organising the toys, you do need to declutter them first. If nothing else, this step will help you rid your home of broken toys, multiples, toys missing vital pieces and toys your kids no longer play with.
This step alone will make the toy box(es) feel much more manageable, and the idea of getting organised much less daunting. Now you’re ready…
3 Super Simple Tips to Keep the Toys Organised
1. Keep Like with Like
Sort the toys into piles of similar type. For example we keep together:
- building blocks
- musical instruments
- Little People and dolls house furniture
- Barbies, clothes, shoes, bikes, similar sized dolls
- baby dolls, baby clothes, bottle, stroller
- board games, card games, puzzles
Then for the things that don’t really fit in any particular category, have a pile for miscellaneous toys. In our miscellanous basket we have toys like the shape sorter, counting toy, etc.
Then decide what you will be storing each of the toy types in.
In terms of what to use, I am a big believer in using what you have on hand. Generally there’s no reason to go and buy a heap of “storage solutions” – just get creative in how you keep the toys.
- tin lunch boxes are great for cars, mighty beans, Little People
- shoe boxes or gift boxes are usually sturdy and great for Barbies, dolls clothes
- a promotional calico shopping bag hung on Isla’s wardrobe handle holds the baby dolls, dolls clothes, bottles, wraps
- dress-ups are kept in a drawer in Isla’s wardrobe
- an open-top basket holds our miscellaneous toys. (It limits the number of loose toys by limiting the size of the basket. If it gets too full I know it’s time to declutter/sort again.)
It doesn’t matter what you use to store the toys, only that they are sturdy, big enough to hold everything without resorting to the shove and easy for kids to identify. In theory, this makes it easier for them to help tidy away.
2. Everything in its Place. (Divide and Conquer!)
Once you have the toys in their boxes/baskets/bags, it is time to find a place for everything.
This will look different for every house – depending on where the kids play most frequently, where there is storage space and where is most accessible (or least accessible for certain things).
Some tips for the best storage:
- Try to use a cupboard or bookshelves that are close to the play area – it makes tidying up much easier.
- We use the cupboards underneath the TV as toy storage:
- One cupboard holds the miscellaneous toy basket and large toys such as the Magna-Doodle, the timber hammer and pegs set, Buzz Lightyear and Woody dolls.
- Another holds the building blocks (all stored in their original carry bags), dolls house, the Little People and their car.
- One more holds the other large toys (a kid-sized guitar, boat, counting pig toy) as well as the boxes that hold the Barbies, the cars and the musical instruments.
- Puzzles, board games and card games go on a shelf out of reach, otherwise they’re destined to be spread over the length of the house.
- Colouring books are kept in an accessible drawer, along with the pencils and paper.
- Books are on two shelves in the playroom – and this is by far the messiest part. The books come out daily (multiple times) and are consequently shoved back by me or the kids before bed.
By having a place for everything (and sticking with it) you will see three main benefits:
- The kids will eventually learn what belongs where…
- Meaning it will be easier (again, in theory) to teach the kids to pack away tidily.
- The space is likely to stay tidier for longer, as packing away is much more straightforward and you are less likely to just shove things anywhere.
3. Rotate! Rotate! Rotate!
I don’t know about your kids, but mine tend to play better (more engaged, less tossing, less boredom) when they have fewer toys to choose from. Maybe it’s not as overwhelming to their senses?
Regardless of the reason, I have found it helpful to rotate bulky toys and things you have a lot of (like books, puzzles, dolls clothes) seasonally.
Split the bulky/numerous toys in half, leaving out anything that is on high rotation. Store half in the playroom or toy storage area and half in a plastic tub out of sight. You can then rotate them in and out every few months, giving your kids the opportunity to play well with the toys they have, only to rediscover old toys when they are rotated back in to play.
- the kids play better with what is on offer
- it cuts down on the clutter, particularly for bulky toys
- means tidying up will take less, simply because there is less to pack away
I know these tips are most useful to those of you with younger kids, but currently that is all I know! I’m hoping the lovely folk with older kids may chime in with a comment below, to share how they keep on top of the toy situation.
Do you have any go-to tips for keeping toys under control in your home? How about for your older children?