Children these days (including my own) have a lot of toys and not all of us live in massive houses. I love having an ‘organised’ house where I don’t have to see everything but when someone asks me to locate something, I can put my hand on it without too much searching. And, this includes my daughters’ toys. This is a learning journey for me so I thought I’d share what I’m learning.
Here’s what I’d recommend:
Have boxes for specific items so it’s easy to find them, so, for example, all the toy cars go into one box, all the dolls into another, musical instruments into another, handbags into another and so on. If these are different colours it’s even easier when it comes to putting things away. If all your boxes are the same colour, label them with pictures of what should be inside – this way, both you and your children will be able to find what they are looking for and be able to put them away in the correct box. I have found that the Ikea Trofast units and the Ikea Kallax units to be brilliant. These come in lots of different heights and widths. Initially, we had them so that our children could use the top as a work station for colouring and creating, but over time, we discovered that they weren’t using them for this and instead toy clutter was gathering on top, so we stacked them, which created more floor space. Our girls are a little older now and they can reach up to get most of the top boxes. I’d also recommend having one box for each of your children where they can keep their ‘special’ toys. Toys that they aren’t happy to share yet with each other or treasures they are collecting.
My husband is very handy with his hands and he made a rail in the toy room for us. It has been invaluable during the age 2-4 period when our girls wanted to dress up all the time. We had collected quite a few dress up outfits and when we kept them in a storage box, I would find the whole thing would be empty on the floor every day. When they could see the outfit they wanted hanging up, they were able to be more selective without creating extra work.
It’s very hard to get the balance right in a toy room unless you have a massive room (ours is in our box room). You need space for your kids to play in but you also need space for the toys and there are some toys that demand a large amount of room like prams, doll houses, road rugs, and workbenches. If you have a dollhouse for peg dolls, attach it to a wall at your child’s height level. Then it has a permanent place in your room and it’s not always falling over or getting damaged from being moved around. We have a large storage box in one corner of our toy room which holds the folded down buggies/prams, large dolls, cots, baby baths etc. My girls know to go there when they want to play babies and I know where to put things away when they are done. There is no point having them looking pretty in the playroom if they only get played with once a week. They take up a lot of room if they are displayed nicely and usually it’s just your children who will see them.
I love that in big storage boxes, you can hide away a lot of toys and not worry about what they look like inside the boxes. However, there are some items that I won’t put in boxes. Books get dog-eared and forgotten about and puzzle boxes open if not placed flat – the pieces going everywhere. So books and puzzles get placed on shelves. Generally, I put puzzles and games (that have a lot of pieces/cards) on high up shelves so my daughters have to ask for them. This way, they only get one at a time and it makes for easier tidying up.
I don’t like using plastic but I find that good quality zip-lock bags can be re-used over and over. There are some items that would just get lost in a storage box or there’s not enough to fill a whole storage box. I have one storage box for miscellanious toys but I like to keep them somewhat organised too. I have found clear zip-lock bags to be the answer. Ikea also stocks these in lots of different sizes. We keep things like finger puppets or small bouncy balls in bags in this box.
I have found that having an organised toy room means there is more floor space for my girls to actually play in the toy room and not just store their toys in it. When the toys are all over the floor, it rarely occurs to them to clean it up to make space for the next game. Instead, they will bring more toys out and start playing with them on the landing or in the kitchen. That’s why I take 5 minutes at the end of every day to put all the toys that have been left out back in their places. If you do a little every day, it rarely becomes a big job.
Outside of having a place for everything, there are two other tips I want to give…
I’ve written a blog on this before here. Generally, a large influx of toys will arrive in your house every Christmas and for each child’s birthday. Between these dates, there’s usually a small trickle of toys being added into the room. If you don’t keep an eye on things, you won’t have space for everything, therefore, I’d recommend doing a toy spring clean the same amount of times that you have a toy influx. So for example, I should do it 3 times a year to compensate for 2 birthdays and one Christmas. There are only so many toys your kids can actually play with, toys break or kids outgrow them. Set aside a couple of hours and the job will be done.
I’ve also talked about this before in a blog. There are some toys that maybe were given to your child but your child never took any interest in it. You don’t want to throw it out in case they grow into them. Or there are other toys taking up room that your child hasn’t played with recently but they still love. If you have an attic or space under a bed, fill a box with these toys and put them away for 3 months. Then take them out and swap them with other toys. You’ll find your kid has a new interest in the toys that were put away.
Keeping a tidy house is hard work and even harder when you have little people whose main aim in life appears to be to create mess! I hope this helps.