Updated: Aug 16, 2020
A four step guide to handle toy organization and storage to make your life easier and ensure those toys are played with, not forgotten!
Once kids joined our family, our amount of "stuff" easily doubled. We're often quick to accumulate new clothes every few months, different plates, travel containers, water bottles, and toys for every stage, interest, and age. I'm here to share some tips and tricks on how to handle toy storage to make your life easier and ensure those toys get played with, not just forgotten!
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In my opinion, there's two main ways to handle toy storage:
Free for all- Majority of the toys owned are offered at the same time (not necessarily in a single space- you might have some toys in the family room, some in your child's bedroom, etc.) Think a toy chest filled with toys.
Toy rotation- A carefully selection of toys are offered at one time in an orderly space. These toys are replaced to follow the child's interests.
At my house, we choose to rotate our toys. Rotating toys is simply when you put some toys out for now and store some for later. I'll share more specifics on setting up a toy rotation system soon, but first you'll need to come up with a solid way to organize and store your toys.
Rotating toys is simply when you put some toys out for now and store some for later.
Place all the toys in one room-
Choose a room with a door that you can close it to keep the kids out if this task takes longer than you've anticipated. I also suggest waiting to start this until you have a big chunk of time to get it all done. Travel to each area of your house and collect any and all toys. Yep, bring a laundry basket if you need to pile everything in. Warning, this can be a pretty overwhelming step but it does get better from here.
Sort into categories-
These categories aren't set in stone and will likely change as you organize. Some categories you might choose from:
Type: Animals, vehicles, people, blocks, puzzles, dramatic play
Skills: Logic, language, writing, math, cultural
There's no right or wrong way to categorize your toys, do it in a way that makes sense for the type of toys you have. Begin by creating several different piles based on similarities and gradually combine your piles. Having sticky notes nearby to casually label each category will help ensure you don't forget what each pile means.
While you sort, don't forget to remove toys that are broken, incomplete, or no longer age appropriate. Donate or get rid of any toys you no longer want or your child no longer plays with. If there's a younger sibling you'd like to save toys for, create a bin of "baby", "older toddler" or "young preschool" toys so they're organized but out of the way.
Decide how/where to store each category-
I've dedicated the closet in Em's room for toy storage, but these toys aren't just for her. Majority of our toys are open-ended toys that will grow with the child. We do have one bin of "older toddler" toys that are too young for Em but too old for our new baby stored in our garage.
I've stored each category in a clear, under the bed storage container. I wanted a container that was long and tall enough to hold majority of the items we own, that could stack, had a lid, and was clear to see inside but I wish I could have found a non-plastic alternative.
I've simply printed some labels for each category, laminated them for durability, and taped them to each container. I wanted labels that were clear and easy to read so when it's time to rotate toys, I don't have to spend a lot of time searching for what I'm looking for. Take the extra time to create labels (even if they're just sticky notes taped to each bin), it'll make your life easier!
Low on space?
Rotate toys- Aim to offer 9-12 toys at a time. You also don't need to offer all of a toy at once. For example, place a few handfuls of LEGOs in a basket, you don't need to offer the entire 100 piece package.
Own less toys, make sure the toys are quality toys that will grow with your child- Stick to quality, open-ended toys that your child can play with in many different ways. Don't waste precious storage space for toys that do all the work for your child.
Use areas such as under the bed, under the couch, in the garage- Think creatively! Install shelves if possible or store extra clothes in an under the bed storage container instead of the closet.
Try storing toys inside shoe racks on doors- This is a great hack for storing smaller toys (as long as you use a door your child doesn't have easy access to).