Now that my big kids are back in school and the Christmas decor is stored away, it’s time to sort and organize the toys!
It’s a given, as a family of 5, that we will have toys. However, at the end of the day when the kids are tucked in their beds, I love to have a tidy, albeit temporary, adult space to relax in with my husband.
Find a spot to store toys. In both our first home and current home, I turned our front coat closet into a toy closet.
I found that most of the time when guests came over we either stored their coats on a bed upstairs or on the coat tree by the front door. That made the closet a great place for toy storage. We added some more shelving to accommodate the various bins and toys. We sometimes have to get creative with our space.
Before stocking our toy closet, I pull all the toys out and sort them into logical categories. For us, cars and magna-tiles logically pair since they seem to get used together. Don’t get too specific with your labels. Try things like balls, vehicles, make believe.
Then I use clear plastic bins and label them. Although, my kids couldn’t read at first, the labels help me to quickly put away a rogue piece while tidying up.
If you want the labels to work for young kids, you could include a picture of what the bin holds.
Try to rotate toys. Not all our toys fit well into the main level toy closet, so from time to time as toys become old, I switch them out for new toys. Suddenly what was old is new again! I store toys in the basement or in our kids’ bedrooms. If your kids play in those spaces, they could use them there. It’s amazing what a change in location does for a toy!
For the bigger, bulkier toys that don’t fit in a closet or shelf, I find a spot to tuck them. Either behind a chair or in the corner of the room. If there is a designated place for the toy, anyone can place the toy away during our end of the day tidy.
Speaking of tidying, my kids know the clean up song well. Occasionally I sweeten the deal for my kids by turning on a 5 minute timer on the microwave or my phone and racing to clean before the timer runs out.
A tidy home at the end of the day makes this momma happy, and generally a 5-minute tidy does the trick.
Toy organization, like anything else, has to function for your family. We have found that labeled bins, a toy closet and every thing having a known home is the key to enjoying our toys. A generic toy bin seems to collect clutter and prove to be more fun to dump.
Occasionally I do re-sort as well as thin out our toys. I especially love to do this when new toys come in. The great thing about rotating toys is you quickly see what are favorites and which ones you can pass on.
What to do with old toys
If you have toys to pass on, check if your local library will take your wooden trains, blocks, legos, duplos and puzzles. Your children’s teacher may even love used games or building toys for indoor recess. Offer them to your local church for the nursery. Several local charities have thrift stores where the money made goes right back to serving the community. There are also some family shelters that may be in need of toys.
You could even consign them and save the money for next Christmas (it’s never too early to plan). Or use the money for your toy organization supplies!
Toys are a reality when you have kids, but they can be loved, played with, and have a place!