I promised this a couple months ago and finally am getting around to posting about how I organize toys. With five daycare kids in addition to my own daughter (who just had another birthday and therefore recently acquired more toys), organizing toys is something I do on a regular basis. I think this is one of the most challenging areas to organize, because first of all, kids don’t typically help keep their spaces organized, and second, they can quickly acquire more and more (and more) stuff!
Today I’m going to share how I organize my daughter’s room, and then will share our daycare “play room” and storage for extra toys in the next couple of days. But first I want to share a few general pointers about toy organization that I think are helpful to keep in mind:
- Organize When the Kids Are Out Some will advise you to go through toys with your kids so they have a say in what stays or goes. Sometimes I get Faith’s input, but generally I find it works better to organize when she’s NOT around. Kids collect a lot of “junk” (fast food meal toys, freebies, etc.) that they don’t play with past day one, yet they aren’t always very cooperative as far as making the decision to get rid of toys they don’t use. I have removed things from Faith’s room on many occasions and often she doesn’t even notice. On the rare occasion that she does, I may say something like, “You don’t play with (that toy) and I put it downstairs to make room for the toys you do play with.” If she can tell I’m firm in my decision (whether toy related or not) she’s not as likely to push the issue than if I seem wishy-washy. Eventually, out-of-sight, out-of-mind. (Faith helps me organize at other times so she’s still learning the value of doing so, and I talk through what I’ve done in her room when I’m finished so she knows each item has a “home”. She even goes through her things at times to determine what she wants “to sell”.)
- Minimize the Amount of Toys I’m not saying sell half of your kids’ toys (though it’s a good idea to at least annually go through and determine what’s not worth keeping). But kids can only play with so many things at once, and the more that is in a space, the less they can “see” and the less they’ll be able to help clean it back up when they’re done. It can just be too overwhelming to cram too many toys into a space, regardless of the age of the child. I advise putting toys on a rotation, which is what I do for daycare toys and somewhat in Faith’s room as well. Keep a variety of things out, and store the rest for a month or so. When kids seem to be getting bored and not playing with what’s there, swap them out for something else. It’s like getting new toys every month or so without actually buying anything! I always like to have books available, a few “learning” toys (puzzles, shape sorters, magnet letters, blocks, etc.), and some role-playing toys (kitchen stuff, babies, workbench & tools).
- One In, One Out I don’t follow this rule specifically, but the general idea is that periodically you should go through your things, whether it be toys or whatever, and decide what doesn’t get used and get rid of it (donate, sell, etc.). Some follow this rule with toys, clothes, jewelry and the like. If you bring something new home, then you have to choose something that goes out. Again, I don’t purge exactly in this way, but I am not a “pack rat” and tend to get rid of things I don’t use without prompting. Whatever “rule” you set for yourself, just be mindful of what is used and what isn’t, because in any space, if there’s just too much stuff, you’ll always struggle to organize it.
- Think About How Your Child Plays When you’re going about organizing your child’s space, think about how they play. Do they like to color on the floor or at a table? What toys do they most commonly play with? What things do you want to encourage your child to play (read books, draw, build with blocks, etc.)? Keep these things in mind as you look at how to organize their room. Maybe furniture needs shuffled around to make the best use of the space. Maybe shelves need swapped out from another room.
- Keep in Mind Age Appropriateness There are age recommendations on toys for a reason, so follow them. Not only are these listed for safety purposes, but introducing a toy to a child at an inappropriate age can do a few things. If you introduce a toy to a young child that’s intended for older children, they a) won’t likely understand how to appropriately play it (or maybe their intellectual or fine motor skills aren’t ready for it yet) and b) by the time they are at the right age for that toy, they’ll be bored. Kids grow up too fast these days as it is, and the last thing I want is for my daughter to bore of toys by the time she’s in 1st grade! It’s also a good idea to remove the “baby toys” as your child gets older as well so that they can have age-appropriate toys that challenge them to learn new skills and information (emphasis on “age-appropriate” again!).
My daughter’s room (PAST):
|Canvas shoe organizer used for Barbie storage|
We have two cube shelves from Target in our house, and I have rotated them around and found them useful in a variety of ways. Initially I had this low one in Faith’s room for her books and toys. The height perfectly fit under the windows so as not to block the view, but still provided ample storage for her things. I did decide, however, that when she couldn’t see the toys (the ones that were in the canvas cubes) that she was less likely to play with them, so I now do not use those for toy storage. They also took a beating as kids tried to shove toys into them, so while they’re “sturdy” in that they won’t easily rip or tear, they can get bent out of shape.
My Daughter’s Room (PRESENT):
Hopefully that gave you some ideas to get you started! I realize this is a girl’s room, but these concepts can easily be adapted to a boy’s room. See you back tomorrow for more toy organization ideas!