On a list of things that make me a little loco, these two rank fairly high:
- When the playroom is such a wreck, I can’t even see the floor.
- When my kids don’t have any interest playing with their toys because 30 different toys and activities are thrown all over the room, and they don’t even know where to begin playing with what. They consequently give up trying to play and annoyingly beg for a movie instead.
So after Christmas 2016, my husband Jamie and I dedicated an entire day and brought every toy/puzzle/book into our living room and tried to complete as many sets of toys as possible. So many of Hadley’s toys were useless because the pieces were in different buckets throughout different rooms, and this was just silly. For example, she’d fairly ever played with her Mr. Potato Head because as a new three year old, she had no idea what pieces went with it unless they were all together.
Anyway, I then went to Target and Dollar Tree and bought about $40 worth of organizational stuff. I bought around 15ish of the $1 plastic shoe box bins at Dollar Tree and a few medium-sized plastic totes at Target (for things that wouldn’t fit in a shoe box, like Barbies).
From there, everything got organized. Books went on the bookcase in her room, several toys were thrown away or donated, some went into our basement storage area, and then rest (around 10-15 toys) with into our playroom (which is technically our sunroom off of our breakfast area).
And haaaaallelujah! So clean. So organized. So wonderful to see Hadley and Sadie better playing with their toys.
We wondered how long this would last and secretly figured that keeping everything in their individual bins would be a chore we likely wouldn’t keep up with longer than approximately four days.
Sure enough, 14 months later, we’re still rockin’ and rollin’ with this little system that we seemingly pulled out of nowhere!
The night before Hadley’s 4th birthday back in November, I went through the playroom after she was asleep and took about half of her toys and put them away in our storage area. I knew she’d be getting a slew of new stuff in the morning, but I didn’t want this to mean that our playroom would now be overloaded with stuff when she was likely only going to play with her new stuff.
We did the same thing before Christmas and will continue to do the same before Sadie’s birthday, etc. It’s just nice to have a manageable amount of toys in the playroom that the kids can focus on playing with without there being this tornado of junk, none of which they have any interest in touching.
Another added bonus of having toys in a storage area is that we’ll let them pick out a “new” toy about once a week, which thrills them and keeps them occupied if I need to work on something and they’re bored with what they currently have. For example, a few days ago I wanted to pull out some of Hadley’s old clothes and start washing them for Sadie to wear this spring and summer. The girls were nagging me and bored from being inside (it was in the teens outside… again…), so I told Hadley to pick out two toys from the playroom that she and Sadie were bored with. We put those in the storage area, and then they each picked out something “new” to play with while I spent an hour organizing clothes.
This right here is exactly why we keep more than half of their toys put away. It’s a total win/win for everybody!
Also, you should know that even though I’m a blogger, I am far from the most “Pinterest-y” mom in the world. I royally stink at crafts, and though I like to be organized, my methods are never very pretty or “Pinterest-worthy”. This is exactly why I wanted to share this method of toy organization with you, because I know so many of you are looking for realistic, inexpensive, functional options and really don’t give a rats you know what about whether it looks pretty or not.
To summarize, here are the tools to do some simple, cheap toy organization.
- Some kind of bookcase or cubed shelf (we have this nine-cube organizer as pictured)
- Shoe box bins (You can buy them for $1/each at Dollar Tree, but they crack easily. We would highly recommend ordering these from Amazon because they LAST and click closed so well.)
- A few bigger bins for larger toys (i.e. bigger cars, stuffed animals, Barbies, dress-up clothes, etc.)
- Your preferred method for labeling (we use a fancy shmancy permanent marker because, again, I am just not a “cute” organizer haha)
Steps (not that I’m telling you anything revolutionary here, but more of a display of how easy this is to finally get a grip on!):
- Gather and dump all toys in one area
- Put all toys together with the pieces that belong to them (try not to bang your head against the wall because this part gets tedious, you guys!)
- Throw away all toys that are broken or missing the majority of their pieces
- Donate all toys that you know your kid(s) realistically are not going to have interest playing with again
- Purchase organizational bins and sorts toys into bins (this is an investment in your sanity and a clean home!)
- Label bins however your heart desires
- Put away at least 50% of the toys in a closet or some kind of storage area, and then organize the rest throughout bedrooms, living room, or playroom.
- Voila! Enjoy a more simplified toy situation around your home.