If you live in a smaller home and have toddlers, you have probably run into the dreaded toy storage problem. We are drowning in toys right now, and it makes our first floor a deathtrap when you’re trying to walk, especially while holding a newborn, so I had to do something! Here’s how I tidied up the toy storage in five easy steps!
First, you have to get rid of some stuff. This is hard when you think they might play with it again. I went through and pulled out ALL the toys (after bedtime of course or it never would have worked), and got rid of anything broken, junky, or stuff she hasn’t touched in a long time. If it was stuff that our newborn could use later I put that in a storage bin to store in the basement.
I had my husband pick up four of these Sterilite bins at Target, $6.99 each. They’re sturdy and I like the flip lock on the sides.
This is the part where you might start losing steam, but if everything is pulled out it should be easy, so don’t give up! I divided all of her stuff into little piles. Books, figures, puzzles, balls, trucks, small toys, and large toys. She has a play kitchen, and way too many accessories for it right now so I put a few pieces into the kitchen and the rest went in the small toys pile. I labeled these bins from IKEA with vinyl, and this piece is in our laundry room, which is out of sight and great! When we want to play with this stuff we just go and pull out a bin and then put it back when we’re done for a new one. This is also really helpful when I’m doing laundry because it keeps her busy and in my sight!
3. Determine Zones
We call this area “Gracie’s Apartment”. It has her play kitchen (nice and narrow for smaller spaces),and her play table* with storage in the middle (awesome for art supplies). Can I just also say this table is SO sturdy, doesn’t tip, and is super easy to clean? It’s our second play table and I love it. She also has a library cart for her books and some toys she’s currently playing with.
This area is in the living room, her toy box is in the family room, and the storage area is in the laundry room.
Larger ride on toys and tunnels are in the garage or the basement since there’s much more space to play.
4. Choose Functional Furniture
We chose this toy box* from Amazon because it matched our furniture and it looked like it would work in our room without appearing too much like a toy box. We were so pleased with the result. It’s nice and spacious inside and holds a ton of toys. Also, it has a soft close which is SO important with little fingers! For the price ($69 with Amazon Prime) it was definitely worth it.
5. Make it Accessible
My most important suggestion is to get your toddler in on the organizing. Since she could walk, we’ve been teaching (training) Gracie to put her shoes, toys, etc… away and she does such a great job. We give tons of praise, and she literally runs around the house picking stuff up and cleaning. Mind you, she’s picking up because she also loves tipping over her shopping cart and throwing her toys everywhere while she sprints through the house, just in case you thought she was some angel toddler that just sits quietly. 🙂
This library cart is my favorite thing ever, and one of the best gifts we ever received. Target? I think? Not only is it a library cart, (This is my goal if I return to work, I’m a former English teacher with library certification, and I would LOVE to work in a school library setting) but it slides out of the way to keep our house looking somewhat respectable.
The bottom of the cart has her books that she’s currently reading, and the top is where I put all the random stuff that our little chipmunk is obsessed with. For example, she LOVES cards and mail. We have most of them memorized, and that Valentine’s Day card is from last February. We still read it. She also will take any postcards or mail that she deems interesting, so we keep her pile there so she can go through her “mail” every day.
I hope this post helps to inspire or encourage you to tidy up the toys! Toddlers are cute, but they have a tendency to take over the house, especially if your house, like mine, isn’t large enough to have a dedicated playroom.
(*this post contains Amazon affiliate links)