Spring Clean Sweep: Tips for Organizing Toys

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For the most part, the toys we deal with right now are pretty easy to wrangle.  As the kids get older and toys become more complex, I envision color coded bins with easy-to-read labels (possibly photos) to assist in organizing them.  For now we are dealing with baby and toddler toys, so I use a basket system with a few specialized tricks that make clean up a cinch!

Each big toy clean out begins with one thing: gathering ALL the toys into one spot.  For this session, I grabbed every single toy downstairs that doesn’t stand alone.  Kitchen, living room, sunroom– no room was left untouched.  I dumped the toys into one large pile, creating kiddie utopia:

{I realize that half of you will think that pile is huge, and the rest will think, “that’s IT?”  Keep in mind we had several larger toys– an easel, play house, toy piano, etc. out of view.  Plus some toys upstairs.  Unless you think that pile is huge, in which case forget I said anything about other toys.  *wink* }.

Here’s how we wrangle them, step-by-step:

1.  Line up our toy baskets:  I have a large basket in each room to make for easy end-of-day cleanup, so in this case I gathered all of them in one spot.

2.  Put toys with small parts together:  Mrs. Potato Head got her arms back, puzzles received lost pieces, and piggie got her coins.

3.  Pull out any pieces that belong in other locations: play kitchen tools in the play kitchen, music items in our music bin, crayons in our art bin, etc.

4.  Decide what stays, what goes, and which toys end up in purgatory: anything we no longer needed went to the consignment pile, and anything that wasn’t appropriate for their age yet or they hadn’t used for awhile but might in the future went to purgatory in the basement.  Note that each time I do this I accidentally leave one of the “go away” piles in plain sight so of course THAT is the pile they find and play with.  Works every time. 

5.  Now you have a slimmer, put together toy pile!  Organize the rest into the large baskets.  I went through and made sure each basket had some sort of ball, doll, baby toy, etc.  Then I sorted the rest of the toys into the baskets, and put the baskets back in the rooms from which they came.  DONE!

Specialized toy storage ideas:

I store puzzles two ways, and I love them both for different reasons.  One way is in puzzle bags, which make them easily portable.  The other way is a Melissa and Doug wire puzzle holder.  Got it from Amazon for about $12 and it is AWESOME.  Since most of our puzzles are M&D, it works perfectly.

Musical instruments go in a bin.  It’s nice to have them live in one place, PLUS sometimes I am not in the mood for hearing them so this makes them easy to…. ummmm… “misplace” for a few days when I need a break.

We love art in our home, so we quickly outgrew just one bin.  Now we have a bin each for painting, coloring, and craft supplies labeled with vinyl letters like the music bin above.

As for books, that’s another post altogether, but here’s how I store books in the playroom.  Books on shelves don’t work in the playroom because the kids just pull them right off.  Books in baskets make corralling them much easier!

This big toy cleanout session took under an hour.  It wouldn’t have taken as long except I had some “help” which added a few extra minutes of time.  And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Look, even Cookie has recovered:

Now, time for a nap.

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