I’ve been receiving emails and messages for months asking me how I organize my kids toys and today is the day! I’m finally here to share our toy organization system with you. And I think you will be very surprised at how simple it really is!
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I’m a huge believer in keeping toy organization systems super simple. This is not the time to micro-organize items. If you want your kids to maintain this system (which is the goal, right?), then setting up a system that is easy to maintain is essential.
I’ve found that there are 7 basic steps you need to take when planning out a toy organization system that will work for you, your kids, and your home. If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, then you know that I’m a big proponent of making your systems work for you. More than likely, if you try to completely copy a system you find on Pinterest, then it will likely not work for you. However, getting inspiration from lots of sources and then combining the best ideas that fit your home will more than likely pay off in the end.
Before setting up your toy organization system, make sure to follow these 7 steps, create a plan, and then put it into action!
The first step to any good organizing project is to purge. You can’t organize clutter and their are certainly toys that your children aren’t playing with anymore. Getting rid of those items will help you to make room for those items that they do use and love.
I wrote an entire post about how you can help your children purge their own toys. I believe that getting your children involved in the purging process is a great life lesson in learning to let go of things they no long want. Children tend to have a hoarding mentality. They want to keep “all the things!” Everything is special. But teaching them the skill of deciding what to purge will take them a long way as they grow.
2. Decide WHERE You Want to Store Toys
You need to decide where you want to store the bulk of your toys in your home. In our last home, we had a designated playroom. It was nice, but I felt like it was constantly messy. And because there was a door that we could close, I feel like we were much more relaxed with cleaning it up each day.
Now our boys store all of their toys in their bedrooms. We spend about 5-10 minutes before bed cleaning up toys. It’s really kept toy messes to a minimum. They are only allowed to have out one thing at a time in each room so there is usually only one main toy to clean up (legos, trains, etc.)
If you don’t plan to keep toys in your main living space, then having a small toy basket located in your living room is a good idea. Toys will inevitably find their way into most areas of your home. Having a place to throw toys when you need to do a super quick pick up is a great idea. We keep a small basket next a chair out of the way. The boys know that at the end of the day when they are picking up toys, they also need to check this basket for anything that belongs to them and put those items away. This system isn’t glamorous, but it sure does keep my living room looking much cleaner!
3. Base Organization Off Your Child’s Age and Skill Level
The toy organization system also needs to fit the age of the child. My two year old’s room is organized with all open bins. This makes it super easy for him to just toss in the toys. If he had lids on the containers, picking up toys would be much more complicated.
Using open bins and baskets for younger children is best. This way they can just toss in the items quickly. As children get older, their toys seem to get smaller. I find that these smaller toys like K’nex and Magnetic Tiles are best in latch style totes. (I also use latch style totes for LEGO storage which I will be sharing about more next week!)
I recommend sorting toys into similar items, but don’t plan to micro-organize them. What I mean by this is that you want to keep it simple. My 2 year old keeps all of his Lego Duplos in two large totes. If I made him separate them into each individual set separated by containers, it would be all on me and my husband during cleanup time and would probably take us 30-45 minutes trying to figure out which pieces went into which bin. However, he doesn’t care if the sets are separated so why should we? He can help us pick up all of his Duplos in less than 60 seconds with the simple system we have in place.
4. Invest in Quality, but Affordable Storage
I’ve tried almost every toy storage system under the sun and I can tell you that spending a little more on a quality system is worth it! I personally don’t like to see toys sitting out even in my boys’ rooms. I would much rather they be hidden behind a fabric bin or tote or, better yet, in a closet!
I’ve found that the cube units work best for us. The Kallax system from IKEA I believe is where this system began, but now you can find similar items at Walmart (Better Homes and Gardens collection) and Target (Threshold). I’ve purchased all of our cube units from either Walmart or Target because it’s just more convenient and they will ship to your home for free. We’ve had our cube units for several years now and I can tell you that they hold up to the wear and tear of little boys! 🙂
I’ve purchased my fabric bins mostly from Walmart. They fit perfectly in the cube units. After a few years of use, they do start to show a bit of wear, especially if you have heavier items stored inside. But mine are still going strong and I have no plans to replace them anytime soon.
Stuffed animals can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t set limits. I found these bins from Target to be a great storage option for stuffed animals. Both of my boys have one in their rooms and they do hold a decent amount. I’ve also told them that once this bin is full, they can’t get anymore without getting rid of some. This bin is their limit (besides the few they keep in their bed). Teaching kids limits on the amount of things they own when they are little will make a definite impact as they grow older.
You can definitely utilize cheaper storage, but you will more than likely spend as much replacing broken or worn down baskets or bins.
5. Label, Label, Label!!!
Once you have your storage system set up and you’ve sorted everything, you have to LABEL! Labeling the storage is essential for kids to be able to find what they want and put things away properly. It teaches them that every item has a home.
I utilize labels with both words and images for my two year old’s room. He can easily find exactly what he is looking for with the images. The words are also helping to build his language and reading skills even if he doesn’t know it yet! 🙂
For my 6 year old, I’ve only used words. He is a proficient reader now and can easily read what’s in each bin. If you are using bins that can easily be switched around when sitting on a shelf, I recommend labeling both sides. Children aren’t paying attention to the label as they are picking up. They are just trying to get the job done as quickly as possible. So I’ve found that labeling both sides is helpful.
I’ve included a link to the labels I use in my boys’ rooms as a PDF download here. But you can easily make your own!
6. Rotate Toys
If you don’t have the space to keep all of your children’s toys out and available, then toy rotation is a great option. We keep a few less used toys or even toys that are a little messier on the top shelf of the closet. We bring a bin or so down every week so that my boys have a chance to play with the toys in those bins.
Setting up a toy rotation can seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. Make it work for you and your kids!
7. Store Large and Obtrusive Toys Out of Sight, If Possible
My boys have those large and obtrusive toys too! Tractors, race tracks, police cars, firetrucks, diggers, you name it! Those items can be some of the hardest to store. I recommend keeping these items in a closet or another out of sight location. They can make a space look cluttered and messy very quickly if they are left out in the open.
I have an older mainstay cube unit from Walmart that is inside a closet. This is where I store those larger toys. It gives me plenty of space to store those larger pieces without them being within eyes sight in my son’s bedroom.
I hope these tips help you as you set up a toy organization system in your home. Let me know in the comments below your favorite organizers for toys!
Looking for more organizing inspiration? Check out these posts: