Toy Organization: We’ve Got All This Stuff, Now What Do We Do With It?

With all the great toys available today, it’s certainly expected that kids will have a hard time keeping their things neat and organized! Planning and arranging your house can help you control it from becoming a disaster – and even help guide your children to living more organized lives.

First, think about specified play areas around your home.  Bedrooms, especially for younger children, should be strictly for sleeping or “quiet” activities.  Toys that can be allowed in bedrooms could include books, crayons, coloring books or paper to write on as well as puzzles and stuffed animals – pretty much anything that a child can do alone yet is not physically stimulating.  This will enable your child to learn that when they spend time in their room, it is time that will be spent sleeping or playing quietly.  Additionally, by minimizing the amount of toys that are kept in the bedroom, it should be much easier for a child to pick up after himself or herself on a daily basis.

There should also be a specified area within the house for all physically stimulating toys.  If a designated play room is not available, then a family room or spare bedroom can be utilized.  This area should house all of your children’s toys, other than those that belong in the bedroom.

The outside of your house should also be considered an organized play area.  If the yard is fenced, select appropriately the area in which the playset or house is located, as well as where any outdoor toys can be stored (in a shed or on a patio).  Each time your children are done playing outside, all outdoor toys should be put back in their resting places.

Once you have differentiated the areas of your home, it’s time to get to organizing.  Following you will find some great ideas for toy storage to help keep the toys off the floor and encourage your children to help keep your house from constantly appearing to be a total mess:

  • Store toys will small parts such as puzzles, Legos, or other building sets in see through plastic containers.  The original boxes these items come in rarely hold up to the wear and tear of every day play.  Put shelving on the wall so that children can store the containers neatly in view, but up and out of the way.
  • Purchase or make a large toy box (with seating on top if your space is limited), so that children can quickly pick up larger toys and get them off the floor and behind closed doors.
  • Get plastic garbage cans with lids (size dependant on the type of toys you want to put inside) – they make great toy boxes and are generally inexpensive.  Additionally, if you are so inclined, you can make an art project out of decorating these cans to match the space in which you will be keeping them!
  • In your child’s bedroom, netting can be strung up on the wall and stuffed animals and other large, light items can be stuck behind so that the toys are visible, but off the floor and stored neatly.
  • Trunks and old dressers or chests are a great place to store old clothing for dress-up.  As you find fun dress-up items (either in your closet or at the store), throw them directly in the dress-up bin.
  • Wicker or plastic laundry baskets are good for odds and ends that don’t store well anywhere else or are used often by your child.  Also, plastic laundry hampers are great for use outside where water toys can be placed inside even if they’re still damp.
  •  Set up a space to be used as a painting/arts and crafts center – the laundry room or basement may work best.  You can also set aside space in the bathroom or kitchen cabinets for arts and crafts supplies.  Keep all art supplies in these specified areas and ensure that everything is put back immediately following the art session – if you do this from the start, your child will learn early how to take care of these messy items and they won’t end up all over the place.
  • Make it a habit to go through your child’s toys with him or her and pick out some that can be donated to a worthy cause.  Your child can be proud knowing a boy or girl in need will now have a toy to play with because of their generosity, and you will get back some needed space at the same time.
  • Be a role model – keep you own “toys” organized (closets, desk space, etc) and your child will learn from you as long as you set a good example.

Once everything has its own space, it will be much easier for your child to keep his or her toys organized.  Keep in mind, while its nice for your child to pick up his or her toys on their own, if you want them to also help with other household chores, it’s only fair that you pitch in and help them complete the toy pick-up task – just be sure to let them know that it is their responsibility and you are acting as their “helper”!