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May 21, 2007

organizing toys

Here's an email I received about organizing toys. Can you relate to this one?

"Hi...Just wanted to let you know that I really enjoy your blog………I love to organize and I am constantly looking for new ways to organize stuff…My major problem is toys!  We don’t have a playroom or basement in our house. Our “playroom” is a sectioned off area in our living room. How can I organize my daughter’s toys in a neat way and also keep my living room a “living room”? Her toys are taking over! I try to declutter and get rid of any toys that she has out grown...but it is just overwhelming!!!!"

I think anyone with kids can relate to this problem! Toys, toys everywhere!!! So what's a Mom to do? Here are some ideas.

To change the situation, you can either add more storage or have fewer toys (or possibly a combination of both.)

For storage options, you could go as elaborate as adding built in cabinets to house toys behind closed doors. If you make this investment, consider sizing the cabinets to hold baskets and bins of toys, with like items grouped together. Look for cabinets with adjustable shelving, so as your daughter grows up and has new interests (and toys) your cabinets can easily adapt to these changes. You could use a similar strategy with a bookshelf or storage cube and baskets to hold toys.

You could also considering adding furniture pieces that double as storage. Look for something that goes with the decor of your room, and no one will ever know toys are lurking inside. From storage ottomans to coffee tables with drawers to trunks there are a number of options for pieces that can serve double duty. Closed storage where items can be stored in bulk is probably the best option to make clean up easy for your daughter, and to keep the room looking suitable for grown ups when play time is over. If your daughter is playing with toys with small pieces, you can group these toys together in smaller, lidded containers that fit inside your bigger storage pieces. Remember to keep in mind the size of your daughter's toys, and what she's likely to grow into, before investing in a storage solution.

Once you have storage in place, it's a matter of living within your storage limits. If toys are also stored in another room in your home, like your daughter's bedroom, inevitably they'll find their way to the living room. (Isn't it funny how easy it is for toys to make their way to the living room, and how hard it is for them to find their way back to where they came from?) I know. It happens here, too! Here's a simple fix. When your living room toy storage starts to overflow, grab a handled container (and your daughter) and haul a load of toys back to the bedroom. Be sure to leave some breathing room in your living room toy storage containers each time you take a trip to the bedroom—you know, to make space for that next set of toys that mysteriously make their way out of the bedroom and into the living room!


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I just came across your blog and wow – awesome tips and resources! One company I found helpful was ORG (However, I may be a little biased because I work there LOL!) But they have really good solutions for home organization units. I used their do-it-yourself line, Easy Track, all throughout my house and it worked great. I think it would even work well to just have a small unit in the corner of a living room for those extra toys and books that you’re talking about! Thanks again for all your great tips!

lesli streets

i rotate our toys. i too don't have a play room rather all of the toys are in our family room. i found that if i took some toys away for a time (stored in the garage) they would play with the ones left. then after a couple of months i bring back the toys from the garage and take the ones they had out there. the boys thought they got new toys! they loved it. i have one set of drawers i had built in a knook (sp?) and one large cupboard for toys in a built in unit (under the tv in the built in entertainment center). if the toys don't fit it there they don't have them. the only exception is a few things that i can hide behind the couch (like a fold up tunnel and play stoller). i also bought two cubes that serve as footrests or sit in the corner of the family room & those house any of the other frequently played with toys. So a few built-ins and two storage cubes (walmart furn. dept) and a little room between the couch and the wall--that's my toy storage in our family room. i have enjoyed rotating the toys too. that way i don't feel like i have to constantly buy new ones to keep their attention.

Julie in FL

I rotate our toys too! I just haven't yet figured out how to store all the BALLS.

Julie in FL

What kind of balls? The round kind. Well, except for the football. More precisely? There are 6 balls made of foam about 3-inches in diameter. The aforementioned football. Two that are about 6-inches and one 4-inch. I originally had them piled in a gift bag. The gift bag was not so sturdy so they now reside on the floor of our playroom in a pile (mostly).


I like to store indoor balls in a crunch can. They're colorful and flexible and when full, stand up well. We used to have a ball pit and all the extra balls went in one of these.
I also like the idea of something like this, too: An empty five gallon paint bucket would do the same trick.

Julie in FL

Is it easy enough for a 2-year old to get to the balls in the bottom?


My kids were older than two when I used the crunch can so it's hard to say for sure. But the medium sized crunch can is just 17" high. If you want something that is easy to get into and you'd prefer your 2 year old to get out one ball at a time, I'd go for a shallow container big enough to hold the balls in a single layer or double layer. Does that make sense? If you're not worried about all the balls coming out at once, something taller like the crunch can allows you to use less floor space to store the balls, but it does make it necessary to empty the contents if you want the ball at the bottom. :)

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