Have you ever noticed how kids play so well with their friends’ toys, but not always their own? Or maybe you’ve started setting aside toys for a yard sale and suddenly those toys, who’ve been abandoned for months, are the coolest thing ever? Most days if you popped by my house you’d see a wide arrangement of superheroes, baby dolls, markers, paper and Legos strewn about the floors. Kids live here. While I haven’t given up on having a clean house at the end of most days, I have embraced the mess that often comes with these beautiful little people during them. I am not an organized person, organization is something I have to work for. Between my two kids, babysitting and play dates, I have to stay on top of the toys or the toys will stay on top of me. One trick that we’ve found really helpful in our house is toy rotations. If you need a few tips on implementing this in your house or need some toy storage tips, stick around!
Firstly you’ll need good storage containers. I use open top fabric bins, lidded fabric bins and clear rubbermaid boxes. Choose containers that store easily, stack or coordinate with your decor so you don’t mind having them out when it’s your turn to host a grown up event! Dollar Tree, Target and Bargain Hunt are my favorite spots to shop for these! For the dreaded, but oh so loved stuffed animals I keep them caged in these handy, wall mounted outdoor planters. I received this tip from a fellow mom and it’s been a space saver! I grabbed these babies up at Aldi for $6.99 each!
Since we are short on storage space and don’t have an official playroom, I store toys in four areas. All four are not all-access areas so that when we have a friend over, 500 things come out, but each area is a key to the rotation. I have some of our containers labeled, but not all of them. I love all the beautiful labels that Pinterest has to offer and I love the way they look when they’re first printed and attached, but for us it’s not practical for every container. It seems to work well to be able to change the bins as we go. For the clear containers, I use a Sharpie, then when I change a bin, I use rubbing alcohol to remove the label.
The toys “IN” are in the kids bedroom and living room. The toys “WAITING” are stored in the guestroom and the toys “OUT” are in the attic. (Go ahead, imagine Toy Story 3 and the black plastic bag. I do every single time I pack away a keeper!) The attic is limited to those special toys you want to save for friends, family members or, let’s be real… grandkids (Am I the only one that does that? It’s just one small box!!!). My kids rarely notice when things go missing, occasionally they’ll ask about a lost stuffed animal or kids meal toy, but mostly they move right along. Just find a place that works well for your household.
I’ve found less toys “IN” are better. There are certain things you can always have available, in our house it’s Legos and baby dolls. I try to rotate toys while the kids are busy with a project, away at preschool or playing outside. When it’s time to rotate, I just swap out bins! It is amazing to me how much play happens when things are kept fresh. I can move our play kitchen from the living room to the guest room and it has renewed life.
Don’t forget to purge those bins! Every few months we do a toy sort. We empty all of our bins, boxes and containers and throw away broken toys, pull out things to giveaway and select any larger items that can be consigned or resold. When I notice toys aren’t being played with after a rotation, out they go! I have a very wise sister-in-law who has a deal with her kids, “Get something new, get rid of something old.” I TRY and do this with my kids, but I’m not always diligent about it and sorting toys is a great way to stay on top of things. Especially around birthdays and holidays.
What are some of your favorite toy storage tricks and tips? What works best for your household?