Since moving to our house last year, I have tried to figure out a good “system” for organizing my children’s toys. Their playroom is one of the first spaces you see when you walk into our house, and while I have stopped apologizing for their messes, that doesn’t mean I want it to take over the entire house either.
In July, I decided to take a big step in re-evaluating how my kids play with their toys, and trying out a new system. Two months later, I think I can safely say that it’s been the most successful way to organizing kids toys yet.
We used to keep all our kids toys organized by category in bins (books, Legos, blocks, puzzles, etc.) In fact, I’ve seen a lot of parents organize their kids stuff that way. It usually works, but then what about all the other stuff that gets added as the day progresses? Books would join play food and then would mingle with the dollhouse. It was a lot of pick-up time spent for the kids and us at the end of the day when we cleaned up.
Let’s go through the process and flashback to July, when I decided to empty all of the toys onto the playroom floor. It was pretty scary, but that’s how it usually looked by the end of the day anyway!
It was pretty crazy pulling everything out, but it was the only way for me to see everything and observe how my kids play.
I grabbed extra baskets and hampers and first I sorted everything by category. My categories were stuff like:
- Stuffed Animals (Ugh! My pet peeve!)
- Blocks and Wooden Toys, Tinkertoys
- Mr. Potato Head (We have quite an impressive collection!)
- Play kitchen accessories
- Dollhouse accessories
- Baby toys (Nagini’s stuff) and miscellaneous
- Art supplies
Now, normally you would think that you are done, right? Everything’s nice and sorted. But, in the span of a day, my kids are not going to only play puzzles. They’ll want to read books and maybe run around with a couple of stuffed animals.
Aha! And that’s how I sorted their stuff. I added a little bit from each category to a single bin. There’s more variety, and there isn’t a huge pile of just one category everywhere!
Below is an example of what’s in one of their bins:
Aquadoodle, wooden puzzle, blocks, and books for the older kid and for the younger kid.
I kept Mr. Potato Head, play kitchen, dollhouse, and Duplos in their own bins. If the kids want to play with them, we pack up the other bin first. I might do an experiment and add a little bit into each bin to see if that changes anything.
Since organizing toys in smaller categories into a single bin, it’s worked out really well for our household. There aren’t tons of things everywhere
Here is the space in August:
Here is the space taken last week:
Is this a 100% foolproof system? No, but we are not as overwhelmed now. Sometimes a toy or three will migrate from one bin to another, but I know that our kids toys will keep evolving and I’ll have to do a little bit of sorting once in a while to make sure it’s all in working order.
Other things to consider:
- We don’t really buy toys for our kids. If we do, they’re usually more open-ended toys. And we really try to avoid plastic toys that make lots of noise. I think we might have one leftover baby toy that does that!
- Art supplies are given with supervision (since my kids are 1 and 3), so I store them in our office.
- If my kids want to play with another toy, we pick up the current bin. Most of the time.
- I am not strict about the messes that get made, but I am strict about sharing, and that we clean up together at the end of the day!
If you have any tips or other thoughts, please leave me a note in the comments!