Toys are a hot topic for me, people are always asking me about them and so I created this blog post to help you figure out how to manage all the toys in your house!
How to store toys
Personally, my favorite method for storing toys (and the one we use in our home) is by the IKEA Trofast. (Full disclosure- I make nothing for recommending these IKEA products but the Amazon links below are affiliate links.) I have found that this unit is easiest for storing my children’s toys.
There are drawers that slide in and out on smooth slides or you have the option of using shelves. It is a very sturdy piece of furniture and not totally unattractive. The bins come in different sizes so you can store all different sized toys and games easily.
My next option would be the Kallax unit also from IKEA. For me this isn’t the best option because the storage bins are a bit bigger and can be more difficult for kids to handle, but it is a little more fancy and comes in a variety of configurations. For example, you can add additional shelves and drawers. The Kallax can be much more expensive though, and there is less flexibility for larger toys.
But, like in all things in life, it’s a trade off.
Try and store all the toys together in one area of your home. I am a big fan of toys being stored in the playroom if you have one. If you don’t, the bedroom is a good second choice.
Either of these two options are better than storing all the toys in the living room. Why? From my experience I find that toys being kept in the living room tend to take over the space very quickly.
Left unchecked, toys tend to multiply. Every few weeks it is a good idea to sort through the toys and assess the situation. This is to ensure the amount of toys do not take over the space where you are storing them.
When the number of toys gets out of control they rarely get put away and are at greater risk of getting stepped on or broken. So, keep the stockpile of games and toys at a number that is easy to handle.
What To Do With Odds and Ends
The thing about toys, is that it is easy for pieces to go missing, so it is a good idea to make toys easy for your children to clean up.
- Label bins with writing and or pictures so kids know where specific toys go.
- For items like board games make sure the pieces are securely stored in the boxes so that you don’t have a million missing pieces, thus making the game unplayable. (See below for tips on how to store games and puzzles)
- Make sure that toys with small pieces are contained in their own bins and bags, especially if they are stored in larger bins or bags.
Board game and puzzle tips
A few of my clients like to store board games in clear large plastic bags instead of boxes that are all different shapes and sizes. They find it easier to keep games in the bags inside one large bin.
I like this approach – this trick can also be good for puzzles. A great tip is to keep the top of the board game/puzzle in the bag as well so you can identify which puzzle it is quickly.
Other clients prefer stacking drawers for board games, and get a few of them that all stack on top of each other and then kids need only to pull out a drawer. Either way is ok – it all depends on what works best for you and your family.
To keep puzzles more organized
- For puzzles for smaller kids you put velcro on the board and on the piece – this also helps improve motor skills
- For larger puzzles you can take a stamp or use a marker to draw a shape on the back of each piece so you know which pieces belong to which puzzle and can easily sort them if they get mixed up. (So one puzzle has a red circle and the other has blue squares)
The key to organizing toys is being willing to help your kids to clean up their toys and to teach them the system of how to store them.
Instead of saying, clean your toys, (which they don’t really understand!) break it down into simple steps for them:
- Take the magnets and put them into this bin
- Put the games in that bin
- Gather the books and bring them to the shelf
By breaking down the task for them you show your children how to break down the task. You can teach them that even when the task seems so large you don’t know where to start – you need to start somewhere so pick something and go!
Once they know where things go – it will be easier.
Just a heads up from someone who’s been there – don’t expect your efforts to be resistance free! Once the system is learned and memorized your children will surely feel more confident and independent (leaving you with more time to relax and enjoy your organized home!)
Now that you have thought about the different methods and places to store your toys, it’s time to start organizing!
- Start off by sorting everything into categories such as board games, blocks, dolls, cars etc. Make a designated pile for trash which will have anything broken beyond repair, one pile for things you want to repair, and one for anything to be recycled.
- Once you have done that, take a look at each item in the pile and ask yourself and your child – do we need this?
Yes, though it might sound scary, this is a great exercise to do with your kids. To make it more comfortable going ahead with giving away or throwing out some toys allow them at the beginning to have 5 safety toys. That means that they can choose 5 toys that cannot be discarded no matter what.
Remember, this is about them and not you. You may have favorite toys (for example a rattle from when they were a baby) but if your child doesn’t like or want it, it’s okay to let go. Obviously, you have the last word in this matter, but be careful how you use this power – use it for good and not for evil!
What to do with unwanted toys
It may be sad to let some things go – but here are a couple of solutions on how you can let them go.
- Donating them to your child’s school
- Donating to a playroom at a local synagogue
- If you are connected to a shelter, you can donate toys in good condition there. When your kids understand that other kids can benefit from their old stuff it makes them feel better letting go.
Like I said before – any toys that are broken or missing pieces that cannot be replaced should be discarded.
One last thing to keep in mind, when new toys come in, say at a birthday or holiday time, you are going to want to prep your kids for this. Staying organized with toys has a lot to do with limiting the amount that comes into your home. When given a new toy ask your child where new toys will go, and if new toys come in which old toys go out. Having these conversations casually when the stakes are low is a lot easier than when you are unwrapping gifts at a party.
To help avoid clutter check out these gift ideas that are clutter free.
Framing clutter free gifts in the correct way is essential. Make it easy for your kids to choose clutter free gifts. Ask: “Do you want a cheap barbie that won’t last long or we can hit the arcade, and get some ice cream?” Or even the playground for someone one on one time can be a great offer! Whatever excites your kid!
Try out some of these methods to discover which way works best for you and your family. It may take some time but once you find a process that works best for you it will change the way you organize toys forever. Good luck!
Let me know what your favorite way to store toys is in the comments section below.
PS – Want to learn more about organizing toys? Listen to my podcast Journey to Organization to hear some more tips and tricks!