If you’ve ever stepped on a lego on your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night, then you’ll love this post. Here are my best tips for how to declutter + organize kids toys they don’t end up all over the house!
HOW TO ORGANIZE KIDS TOYS
There are many things I was not prepared for when having kids, but the top contender is their clutter. I had no idea I would one day negotiate how many sticks my sons could bring home from the park. I was not prepared for all the “little things” such as the dollar store swag from party bags, tiny Play Mobile milkshakes, miniature notebooks, and hamburger erasers that break down into even smaller pieces! It makes me completely nuts. I remember watching Mommy Dearest when I was a teenager and thinking, “Whoa.” And, now I kind of get it. Sometimes I have to fight the inclination to scream, “No more tiny erasers!” Yet it seems like every time I sneak these “little things” out of our home, one of our well intended parents will buy them another set that contains 150 individual pieces.
If you are laughing and nodding, then read on. I’ll show you step-by-step how to organize your kids.
FIRST, GET EVERYTHING OUT
Wait, it’s probably mostly out, right? Isn’t that the issue? Okay, put it all in one room. All of it. Two kids? Five kids? Still put it all in one room. Kids like this part, so get them involved. Say to them, “Let’s get all the toys in the house and put them all on the playroom floor.” This will make perfect sense to them.
Next, ask your kids to put things into piles of like with like. They usually enjoy this part, too. Tell them they need to put things into collections: all the Legos together, all the blocks, all the sticks, all the rocks, all the potions, (the struggle is real). If you have lots of different Play Mobile sets like we do, group those into separate piles by set: the tree house with the tiny fishing poles, the ice cream truck with its endless mini cutlery and confections. Once you are done sorting, toss garbage and recycle paper scraps. Have them take all the sticks and rocks and pinecones and anything else that belongs in nature, into the backyard. I tell my kids these things belong in their clubhouse, or in a special place they designate outside. They are usually okay with this.
Now comes the harder task. Ask them to go through each pile and take out the things they don’t like to play with. They may look at you like you’ve lost your mind. Be patient. Stay the course. I find my kids do better with this when I provide them with two bins and tell them anything they don’t want can either go to kids who don’t have any toys (i.e. donation), or into a “maybe box”. Tell them if they want anything from their maybe box later, you will get it out for them. This usually helps.
You will likely still see a mountain of stuff before you, but at least it will be in piles of like with like. Now it’s time to contain it!
When choosing containers here are a few tips:
- Choose containers that have just enough space for each collection so the bins don’t overflow, but not so much space they encourage your kids to add to them.
- If your kids have a hard time with containers they can’t see through then you may want to invest in clear containers. I used containers we already had for this project, but I also like these these bins from The Container Store, which you can use to divide up bins you already have, or use on their own.
- I also recommend taking all the lids off the containers because it makes it easier for your kids to put things away.
- Don’t be tempted to get bins that have a slot for each toy. This will just make things more difficult for your kids to pick up. The goal is ease. They should be able to chuck something into the bin and be done with it.
- Finally, if it makes sense, let your kids put their toys directly on the shelves or drawers without a container at all, like the trucks pictured above. It adds a pop of color, and makes them easy to get out and put away.
Take a minute to vacuum or sweep their rooms or playroom, wipe down their shelves and bins. This will give you a nice clean base when you put things away.
EVERYTHING IN ITS PLACE
Put all the bins in their places. Clear bins will prevent you from needing to take the extra step to label, but if you want to add labels, now is the time. If your kids can’t read yet, print pictures of the item type in each bin and tie or tape it onto the front. See the picture above. Don’t use permanent labels, because they will most likely change in the future.
SET GROUND RULES
Set some ground rules for their use of the space, such as a one in one out rule for new toys, and a daily time to pick up the room. They will most likely want to start playing with things right away because they can suddenly see what they have without having to dig through the rubble. That’s the sign of great organization! It helps you make time and space to play.
GAZE, ADORE & PLAY!
Look at the clean play space and take a moment to celebrate. Yes it will get messy again, but right now everything is where it should be. When it does explode, you know what to do.
I believe simplifying my kids play spaces and rooms helps us spend time together more intentionally. We have more time to play, connect, go outside and enjoy our lives. It also makes kids more conscientious of their possessions and more aware of others who have less.
WORK WITH ME
I work with moms to organize playrooms and kids rooms all the time. If you kids are home, I’ll involve them in the process too! You can check out my packages on my services page, and book directly online.
You might also like my post, “Kids Snack Organization.”