Sep 28, 2011

10 Tips to Keep Toys Organized

My kids are selectively deaf.  They love to play with their toys and love to take everything out, but they hate putting the toys back.  When I tell them to clean up they take it as; "Let's take out more toys!" or "Ok, mom wants us to go mess up another room now."  Kids don't hear the same things we do or they don't want to hear the same things.  

Keeping a bedroom, living room or playroom clean and organized is such a horrible and difficult task, right? Wrong!  It's actually fairly easy when you strategize and think of some great and creative ways to help your space.  I'm not a professional organizer nor is my house clean by any means, but I have come up with a few ways to keep things organized! Especially with kids toys.

1. Separate all of the toys - I do this weekly or bi-weekly.  Things get misplaced, broken or thrown where it shouldn't be very often.  More often than not when that happens, your child will be looking for that one toy that found it's way to a place it shouldn't be.  Have some bins/baskets on hand as well as plastic gallon storage bags, a sharpie and a garbage bag.  Use one bin for things you want to give away/sell and organize the rest to what you want to store in them. (i.e. Play food, Craft supplies, Polly Pocket houses/accessories etc...) Use the small plastic storage bags for the pieces that are too small. (i.e. Polly pockets, clothes, barbie clothes, etc...)  Label each bag or bin as well.  

2. LABELS - Use labels on each bin with an identifying photo, if your child can't read.  This can help them to know where the toys go once they're done with them.  Another creative idea is to use those small $1 chalk boards you can get at Michaels or AC Moore.  You can easily switch the contents and just erase/re-write the new contents of the bin without having to make a brand new label.  Simple and easy...also effective.

3.  Wall storage - For those of you with limited space, think about going up...on the walls.  You can use wall storage for books, small toys, small bins, stuffed animals and so much more organization.  You may think that wall storage would look cluttered, but not at all.  It actually adds a little more to the room.  As long as you keep that wall storage space organized and de-cluttered, it won't look that way.  You can also use the top or bottom of the closet for storage. 

4. You can't keep everything -  Parents AND KIDS should know this.  I know from experience because I used to be one of those moms who kept lost toys in their own little bin.  If something was broken or not with the set, I'd put it aside in hopes that we'd find the other pieces.  Guess what happened?  The other pieces magically disappeared. (Or maybe got flushed...and I wonder why my toilet doesn't work.)  Chances are, you'll never find all of the pieces so just throw it out.  It will help the clutter and will give you less mess to clean up in the future.

5. Use under the bed boxes - Also good for a small space, you can get clear under the bed boxes that you can use for childrens toys as well.  I would do the same label system with the words and photo of what should be in the box to help with organization and clean up when it's time to clean up.  

6. Use those plastic  storage drawers - If you have too many figurines or toy cars to store in gallon plastic bags, use the plastic storage drawers.  We have two sets of those storage drawers just for my girls' figurines, doll furniture, toy cars and so on.  The kids can see what are in the drawers and they can easily get out what they want. (And put them back too, right?)

7. Make organizing fun -  There's no harm in telling your child that if they clean out the toys they don't want/want to sell they can get something new.  Maybe a coloring book or crayons. (Something that doesn't cause clutter! LOL)  Just don't promise them a new barbie dream house or a brand new lego set.  Something small.

8. Make cleaning fun -  I try to make a game out of cleaning.  I set a timer and tell my girls that whoever cleans up their toys first gets a little prize.  I give them stickers or crayons or something small and inexpensive for the clean up.  We also have a chore chart that they get to put their favorite stickers on when they clean their room.  Make a game out of it, sing a song, have fun when teaching your kids to clean up their toys!

9. Camouflage organization - This is good if your toys leak out to the living room or family room.  Get those ottomans that have the storage inside or the benches with the storage inside.  You can even get some really creative and coordinating storage bins to fit under your couch or coffee table.  People don't have to know you have toys in other sections of the home if you keep them organized in a way that isn't obvious!

10. Use baby wipe boxes - We've always saved the baby wipe tubs. (Hey, I'm an artist and crafter!)  They've really come in handy.  My kids help me decorate them and they hold little pieces that you don't want to get lost.  These tubs are so helpful.  

All in all, it's very possible to have a clean playroom, kids' room or living room if you think creatively and actively take the steps to de-clutter.  Even though there aren't enough hours in the day, even one day a week or a month actively helps the clutter from accumulating.  

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hot Wheels® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.