When I was pregnant with Kye I went to a friends house for our maternity pictures and I was blown away by her home. You, legit, couldn’t tell she had any kids! That really impressed me, and knowing how to organize toys became a personal goal of mine for my own home.
I always strive for my home to look “kid free.” It’s a lofty goal with multiple children and an overload of kids’ toys but here are my best tips on how to organize toys and prevent the dreaded toy takeover!
Originally published November 18, 2013
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How to Organize Toys and Prevent the Toy Takeover!
1) Storage, Storage Storage
The first thing is first on how to organize toys: when it comes to decorating our home, I keep storage at the front of my mind. It’s a great idea to try to only purchase furniture pieces that also offer storage options so I have spaces that double as a toy organizer. This is the best way to make the most of our home space and maximize storage potential whenever possible.
I also don’t immediately fill up all the available storage I have. I know we want more children so I’m mindful to leave empty places so we can fill them when the time comes.
2) Everything Has a Place
Literally. Everything! The easiest way to prevent toy clutter is to designate a spot for each and every toy my children have. If something doesn’t have a “home” then it’s likely to end up as clutter around yours!
Not only does everything have a place, but I do my best to keep the toys organized. All toy cars have the same home. All Little People princesses live in the castle. All play food goes in the play kitchen in the playroom. Board games in the closet. Etc.
If the kids have a toy with many pieces, I make sure it’s stored in a place where all the pieces can be kept together. Missing pieces are no fun… but searching for them is even worse!
4) One at a Time
I don’t always follow by this rule but I try to. I have the kids choose one thing at a time to be playing with. That way I don’t turn around and have a family room covered with toys.
By limiting the number of toys that are being used, it’s easier to keep them organized and put them back in their proper places at the end of the day.
5) Clean Up, Clean Up
The clean up song is my friend 🙂 From a very early age I start singing the song with my children. When they are infants I sing the song as I clean up their toys and as soon as they are able to they help in the clean up process.
Even if it’s me guiding their hands myself when they are too young to do it alone, the important thing is to start early and teach them how to organize toys!
Britt is not even two yet and can fully clean up her kids’ toys on her own. Kye is four and doesn’t even need the song anymore 😉 It’s so important to encourage kids to help around the house, even from a young age!
By everything having a place and by limiting the amount of toys they have out, it makes clean up a breeze and keeps it something younger children can do by themselves. No clean up for mama!
Even as the kids get older they are expected to clean up their toys on their own, we do believe in paying for chores (here is why!) but cleaning up your own mess? That is a responsibility, not a chore to be paid for!
7) Limit What You Buy
When shopping for my young children, I’m mindful of our available space and try to only purchase toys that I know we have a place to store them. I especially like smaller toys as they are a breeze to store!
I also like to buy my kids additional toys that go with ones they already have as storage is also simple since those new toys will go along with the old ones! This makes it simple to organize kids toys by categories since similar toys can easily be stored together. I like to organize kids toys in a way that makes them easy for the kids to find, put away on their own, and play with and enjoy too!
New lego sets can fit perfectly with the old ones in the lego table. More baby doll accessories can go with Britt’s baby doll stuff in her closet. It’s a great way to reduce clutter!
6) Throw Away or Pack Away
I am a bit of a hoarder when it comes to kid stuff. I know we want more children so I don’t give anything away yet (although I won’t ever hoard to the point of needing a storage unit!) But I constantly go through all of my children’s toys.
If things are broken, they go in the trash (unless Daddy can fix it and it’s worth fixing!). If they have outgrown a toy then I pack it away. Always be sure to remove any batteries before storage! I have tubs in our attic with all my baby clothes and unplayed with toys just waiting for future children to enjoy.
How to Organize Toys: Putting it Into Practice!
Here are the areas where I have toy organization in place in our home:
In the living room we have a coffee table, end table, and bench that all have basket storage. Right now I only use the bench for toys but can use the other areas for toys eventually if needed. I keep the kids musical instruments here as it’s something they play with often! I also keep other small toys that are easy to pull out when we have guests.
I am all about creative toy storage ideas and love that this is literally in plain sight but still very much put away! It’s proof that storage ideas for toys and kid-related items aren’t limited just to closets.
We also have lots of cabinets in our entertainment center area and right now I have one shelf with a few toys in plain sight on it. Again, there is plenty of room to add more but for now this is all we need!
In our front hall closet, I store many other toys. We live in South Georgia so we don’t really have a need for a coat closet and I appreciate the added space! I keep all of our kid-friendly games on the top shelf. This way they are out of reach for the kids but where Kye can see them and choose a game for us to play each night as part of our bedtime routine.
As our collection continues to grow, I’ll have to either add another shelf in the closet or rethink our game storage spot! As my kids have gotten older I’ve relocated many of the kid friendly games to lower shelves as I like to organize kid friendly items where they can easily see and reach them for quick play, especially with games as it encourages sibling time together.
In the bottom of the closet I took some awesome Ikea stackable storage bins that we used to use to store out pet food (yes, I cleaned them WELL!) and converted them to toy storage. These things have a TON of space and have lids that open easily so the kids have easy access to their favorite toys.
I store all of Kye’s small cars in one, Lincoln Logs in another, wooden trains and tracks in the third, and their wooden blocks in the fourth one. I also combined all of there small Disney figurines and stored them in a bucket along with Kye’s Imaginext train set, army men, and another car track set.
In addition, I stored Kye’s bouncer ball on a hanger and hung it up in the closet. I also rolled his car mat and stored it to the side of the bins along with oversized pillows for play time! Organize kids toys with what they enjoy or play with most in an easy to grab spot that also makes it quicker to put away.
When designing the kids rooms I continued to keep storage in mind. I think all of my children will always have similar looking closets because I love how much storage space I have!!! I personally do not like clutter at all…I like everything as covered as possible. Even books!
I keep a bookshelf (from Ikea) in each closet with all of the kids books on it. This is Kye’s room and he has pretty much all of his storage cubes filled with toys. I keep all the potential choking hazard type toys in his room as a safety measure with Britt.
I also have a hanging storage thing (from Ikea) that keeps all of his random stuffed animals in it. I’ve also hear of people using a shoe organizer for toys, which is definitely a good idea, especially for a small space!
I have his larger toy cars at the bottom of his closet. Along the shelf at the top I keep a tub filled with his next-size-up clothing. (I buy ahead for my kids with their clothes when I find discounts) I also keep his dress up clothes and suitcase on that shelf!
Kye’s furniture has storage baskets where I can store clothes and toys to keep them out of sight. Some have clothing items that couldn’t fit in his drawers and some have toys.
I also use one of the cubes to store his clothes for school each week. I pick out all of his clothes for the week on Sunday nights and put them in order in the basket so they are ready to go each morning. Keeps our mornings running smoothly and helps me make sure he wears a variety of stuff!
Britt’s room is very similar to Kye’s in storage. I use the same self for her books and the same storage cubes in her closet. Her baskets mostly have clothing in them though rather than toys (life as a girl, right?).
Since her clothes are shorter they don’t hang so low and I’m able to store more toys above the cube storage as well. I bought a hamper from Target to toss all of her stuffed animals in and I keep her Princess Castle on the floor for easy play.
On the shelf in her closet I don’t have many toys. I keep quilts up there and a tub for her next-size-up clothing as well!
When we bought Britt’s kitchen I knew it would sit out in her room for awhile and I made sure it matched the colors of her room. I didn’t like the idea of a toy sitting out like that all the time but at least it coordinates, right? We do plan to move it to the new playroom once it’s finished!
Britt’s baby furniture doesn’t have any basket storage like Kye’s but I use the bottom drawer in one of her dressers to store toys. I did the same thing when Kye had this furniture as a baby and I like having a quick place to grab toys as well as an easy way to clean up.
When we built our home it was important to me to have a playroom for our children. I grew up having a kids playroom and it’s something I wanted for my own kids as well! Right now our playroom is in the bedroom that will become Kye’s room someday. Zach is in the process of finishing the permanent playroom now (Hoping to be done before the end of this year! Yay!)
Since this is not our permanent playroom it’s not as clutter-free as I’d like, but I still try to have a place for everything and to keep it from looking “junky” Whenever the kids finish playing we always clean up…every ball goes back in the tent. Every lego goes back in the appropriate drawer. Everything has a place!
Before I leave them alone in the playroom I ask “what’s the rule?” and they (well only Kye right now!) responds “don’t make a mess!” I LOVE play. I think kids learn a LOT through play. But there is a BIG difference between a playful mess and a destructive mess. I’ve seen other children make a mess just to make a mess. Dump out toys just to dump them. Be destructive.
It’s disrespectful and I want my children to respect their belongings. We don’t give our kids toys except at holidays and I think that does help them to learn respect for them. If something breaks? Oh well. I don’t run out and buy a replacement. I don’t mind the room being messy when I come to help with clean up. As long as they are being respectful and the toys are scattered about because they were in play mode, it’s fine!
Ride on toys are SO big and bulky! I keep them lined up in the dormer window for now!
I have multiple tubs in the closet to hold stuffed animals, larger toys, potato heads, books, etc. I don’t actually store anything on the shelving as it’s just a space we haven’t had to utilize!
How to Organize Toys: Final Thoughts
I love that when people come to our home they will often say they can’t tell we have children. Of course our children run and greet them at the door so they KNOW we have them, but I like that our home doesn’t look like a daycare. I take pride in our home and take steps to prevent the dreaded toy takeover!!!
So there you have it, my top tips on how to organize toys! Got any tips that you use to help minimize the mess????