When we first moved into our home, I had zero organization for M’s toys. I didn’t even have a shelf to put them on, so everything was in a few odd shaped baskets by the fireplace (think a laundry basket, an oval wicker basket and an ottoman lol). It looked a hot mess. If anyone knows me, they know I love organization, and having the toys in a pile not only looked terrible and drove me nuts, but it wasn’t fun for M to play with anything because it was hard to distinguish what toys were available and he was too little to rifle through everything. BUT, I have an awesome system for organizing my kid’s toys now and I can’t wait to share it with you!
First things first, our main level is on the smaller side, with our kitchen, dining room and living room essentially all one room. So if the living room is messy with toys, the whole main floor is basically messy. Both Kiel and I hate clutter, so the fact that my hubby is on board helps big time with keeping our house clean.
The first thing that I did (and do once a month), is edit all of the toys in the living room. Instead of having all the legos in a huge bin in the living room, I cut them down by half and stored the other half downstairs in the playroom. I also toy rotate, so this is a great way to keep toy clutter down while introducing ‘new’ toys every few weeks. Trust me, kids love it lol. I have a few construction trucks and then other odds and ends to play with and I keep everything organized in its own bin. The other toys are kept in a tub downstairs and I’ll go through it once a month or so when it’s nap time and switch out toys. I used other bins prior to these and actually had them all labeled, which really helped when my hubby was helping to clean up. But since the bins have always been the same contents basically, we no longer use the labels.
So my organization system is super easy and makes tidying up a breeze, which is really important because if it’s not easy to clean up, odds are the kid’s will have a hard time helping and everything will end up a jumbled mess. So I have a handmade wooden tanker truck that M plays with everyday on the shelf, alongside a few books (which I will also change out once a month). The books are corralled to keep them tidy and I only have a few in here plus 1 colouring book.
The next shelf has one large fabric bin with the odds and ends toys. Again, I go through and edit this whenever it starts to look really messy and nothing is being played with (I actually just went through all of the toys a few weeks ago). As you can see there are a few plastic farm animals, a little backpack my Grandma made, a few stuffed animals. Just little odds and ends that get worked into playtime. The other smaller wicker basket hold’s Lo’s baby toys. I like to have them separate so they can easily be found and again, having a place for everything makes clean up easy and it makes playing with toys even easier.
The bottom shelf is the most used, I have one bin for all of the trucks and construction things M plays with daily. All things car related get tossed in this bin, but I don’t keep every truck he owns in here or else it’s just too much ‘stuff’. He can easily take the whole bin and dump it on the rug to play with everything. When it’s clean up time, he knows that all trucks and construction stuff go in the bin and he’s great at helping clean up after himself. The other bin is for mega blocks and like I said, we have big tub downstairs with the other half to play with.
There is a giant exosaucer that Lo loves to bounce around in, plus her play mat and little bed. Then we have the play kitchen. I also recently went through and removed a ton of play food and utensils from the kitchen because there was waay too much and M really didn’t play with it much. There would be food everywhere and it would just get dumped and left. So I rounded up 2/3’s of it and put some downstairs to play with and the rest was put away for when I toy rotate. Honestly, having fewer things to play with has made it so much easier I think, because M has played with it every day since.
Currently we have a bunch of wooden food items, a few cooking utensils and some dish ware to cook with. I have little bins in here to put things away too. Underneath the kitchen is M’s little toolbox. He has a little drill, bits, a saw, etc lol and he loves this little set. It’s played with often and usually on the kitchen stove actually, but when toys are being cleaned up before bed, I usually tuck it underneath the kitchen.
Another tip for keeping a tidier play area, is to clean up through out the day instead of one big clean up at the end of the day. This might be because we have such a small living room that having toys everywhere all day would drive me nuts, but I tidy throughout the whole day. I’m not crazy about it lol – we get messy and toys are everywhere as soon as M starts playing (which I love, playing kids are happy kids), but before lunch and dinner we tidy up the toys, before we leave the house to run errands we tidy and before bed time we clean up.
Since our living room doubles as a playroom for us (we have a play area downstairs but we use that more in the winter time and are on the main level most days), and I don’t have a lot of storage in the house, I made my own toy storage and made it work for us. The ladder bookshelf was an online purchase and was originally dark brown. I painted it white and it is our little workhorse. That’s where all of our toys go and I really don’t have another spot to tuck things away in here. The bins keep things concealed (the less visual clutter, the better) and I as I said, I use a basket to corral the few books we keep down here.
My husband always jokes to me that I’m obsessed with labels and having a place for everything – but honestly, knowing where something is supposed to go is great for kids. It takes away the guesswork and when M wants to play with something, more often than not, he knows where to find it.
So quickly – here are my 4 tips for organizing baby + kid’s toys:
1 | Edit the toys! Pare down to a few of each item, bin the rest for rotation or switch out with other toy bins.
2 | Make a home for everything. Organize toys by like (ie. legos, dolls, trucks, etc) and use baskets to corral items, label them if you want as well (labels take away any cleaning up guesswork too). Keep a few books in a basket or designate a small shelf for just them to keep it organized. (Baskets are perfect for changing storage needs, they can be used for anything and switched out when needed.)
3 | Tidy throughout the day and get in the habit of cleaning up one area before making a mess in another (this is more for older kids with different toys, M only has a 4 different types that he plays with lol). When we play in the downstairs play room, M goes nuts with all of the ‘new’ toys, and it’s like a whirlwind, so we try and put away as we move on to different toys).
4 | If you lack room or storage, think vertical! Our ladder shelf has a small footprint in our living room but holds almost all of M’s toys. The open shelving means I can customize it as my kid’s grow too.
^^ Also, in the spirit of keeping things real, this is what our living room looks like with a toddler and a baby most of the time lol.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me (I love this kind of stuff! #nerdalert) or if you have organization tips of your own, I would love to hear them – leave them in the comments below!
Cheers! – Megan
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