When I was pregnant and nesting, I spent hours organizing all of the kids’ stuff. I opened things my newborn wasn’t going to use for months or even years, set up beautifully organized crates of toys, and was so proud of myself for how neat it all was.
And then I had kids…
Fast forward almost 2.5 years later and my house has started to look like a Toys R US (RIP Toys R Us! I’ll always be a Toys R Us kid!) with toys in every room, clutter everywhere, and I can’t stop stepping on these dang legos!
After a late night rant of “I’m just going to throw it all away”, I decided it was time to find some good organizational systems to declutter the mess and make it easier for the kids to play. With all the stuff everywhere, I realized that my kids couldn’t even get to some of their toys and had forgotten about brand new things that they got.
I drew a line in the sand with all the stuff and decided it was the perfect time to spring clean all the junk! So if you’re over all the mess, check out my tips to get started and scroll down for some examples of real life moms who have MASTERED organizing the toys!
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Get rid of things
The first thing I recommend doing is to start getting rid of things that your kids don’t use, have outgrown, or are broken. Grab two boxes and your trash cans and pick one room to start with. You should have one box or bag for toys to donate or give to a friend who has kids younger than you, one that you can store stuff to sell on the Facebook marketplace or at yard sales or consignment, and anything that’s broke just toss it right out!
Sometimes we hold onto things because they have sentimental value or honestly because we feel guilty getting rid of things our kids have gotten as gifts but let that guilt go! If you’re kid doesn’t play with it, particularly because they have outgrown them, you don’t need it taking up space in your home!
Separate the Toys
As you are going through and separating your toys into toss, sell and donate, make a plan for what room you want to store which types of toys in. This makes it so much easier when you are putting things away to have them in one section of the house.
For example, we are currently homeschooling some Tot School so I try to keep anything that is more of a typical learning toy in our gym/office where we have whiteboards, easels and all of our craft stuff set up. I do NOT want play doh and paint all over my house so I keep it all in one space. I also try to keep more of the creative and imaginative toys in our playroom where the TV is. These are things like magnatiles, puzzles, or her doll house. My hope is that she’ll have more things that help her think in there so she’ll ask for the TV less. The kids’ bedroom hosts all the random stuff, tons of blocks, and more quiet time toys for before nap and bed. Oh and books are EVERYWHERE in this house (seriously, I just found some in the bathroom because you know.. Potty training!)
Having themes for where you keep your toys helps makes clean up easier as well. If you come across something that you know goes in one room vs another, you can just grab it and bring it into that room whenever you go. I keep a few empty bins around our home just for this reason. We have a bin at the bottom of the stairs where I can toss things that belong up there and, whenever we head up to the bedrooms, I can just grab the bin and bring it up!
Only keep a few things available at a time
One of the biggest struggles I found was that we just had TOO many toys out for play at a time. My 2.5 year old would get bored with what she had and not ‘have anything to play with’. Once I started doing a toy rotation, it allowed all of her toys to feel ‘new’ every single time. Now, the biggest struggle I have is when I bring toys downstairs for the baby, my daughter remembers them from when she was a baby and thinks they are all hers again (sigh.. toddlers).
Every single month, I have a simple rotation where I bring the baskets that I’ve created from room to room. I am lucky to have some built in shelves in our bedroom hidden behind a curtain so I keep soft boxes in there filled with books, blocks, music toys, dolls etc… When I do my rotation, I simply take the box of books from the bedroom to the playroom, the box in the playroom into the office, and the one from the office goes back to the storage spot. It takes me maybe 20 minutes one time a month and helps make things fresh again.
Have them help
One of the skills we are working on right now with my toddler (and heck the 11 year old too!) is cleaning up after herself. She currently loves to help around the house, sweep, mop, do laundry, cook… anything! But one thing she doesn’t love so much is when I say it’s time to pick up her toys.
We now do a 5 minute pick up throughout our day which helps remind her to clean up as she goes. Obviously the less stuff she has to pick up, the faster and easier it’ll be (and the less tantrums!)
Their toys are their responsibilities and yes, I know as moms we do most of the picking up, but I find I go through seasons when I start to feel bitter because I am ALWAYS picking up something off the floor and having the kids help, even if they don’t do it the way I would, helps not only teach them the skills but eliminates the stress on my end.
Tips from Real Moms
I asked over on my Facebook for moms to give me tips and share some pictures of how they keep their kids stuff organized and I wanted to share some awesome ones with you! I hope they give you some inspiration to get things organized and destress your life!
“One thing I've done before is to get two separate toy boxes. One full of toys one empty. Let the kids take out what toys they want to play with. At the end of the day, put them in the empty box. After a week or month (whichever you prefer) take what toys are left in the original box and either donate or sell. Shows that the kids aren't interested in those toys and makes room for their other toys. Depending on how often you buy toys for your kids, repeat either every few months to 6 months. It's not much on organization, but it helps to declutter.” - Brittany J.
“A “zoo” for stuffed animals with bungee cords or you put them inside a beanbag chair”
“A great way I got my daughter to get rid of toys was to say she needs to pick the ones she no longer plays with, so that we can make room for new toys she would want to play with. I would then sell them on kijiji and the money would go into purchasing new toys (xmas gifts, bday gifts, or she can choose to go pick out her own toys). Gives good practice for kids to be able to let go of things, as well as the meaning of money.” - Robin L
“Storage units! The ones on the left are great as you can keep stuff together. I have Lego in one, colouring and paper in another etc”-Rachael D.
“This is how we handle all of their projects! We can’t use magnets on our fridge, and it’s special for them to see their art up in the “gallery”!” - Kaytie S.
“I sorted my toddlers stuff by type and made six sets which I store in 12" cubes up in her closet, she gets to have one set out at a time, and I rotate to a new set roughly monthly. I have some seasonal) holiday bags of toys too.” - Carol C
“Baskets and those soft square bin things! This is just the "playroom". We currently live in England where most (if not all) houses don't have closets and rooms are smaller. So our kitchen "pantry" is a large bookshelf with baskets to keep things organized. I also have baskets in the cupboards to keep things organized and makes it easier to move one group of things to find something that i may use less often that i put in the back” - Angela W
So take some time today, make the commitment, set a 10 minute timer and just do a little each day. THe mess didn’t happen overnight and you won’t get rid of it overnight! Declutter, destress and clean up all the kid’s stuff!
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