Toy Organization for Dummies (Like Me)
“Let’s Get Organized” Series – Installment 6
Welcome back, lovely readers!
If you are new to my “Let’s Get Organized” series, allow me to catch you up. We’ve touched on kitchen organization from fully stocking your pantry to eliminating your paper clutter to tidying your kitchen shelves. I shared some ideas on how to neatly display your child’s artwork in your home, then tackled a BIG problem area (for me, at least): closets.
This week, I thought I’d delve into another big, uh, “area of opportunity,” let’s call it. Toys. Toys EVERYWHERE. I’m not exaggerating here, the Peterson twins have managed to distribute their loveys throughout each room in our home. Would it suddenly strike my daughter’s fancy while using the potty to drive her Sofia remote control carriage around? OK, maybe it would. Clearly it is challenging for me to tap into a 4-year-old’s brain. Nevertheless, I am not interested in tripping over said item in the middle of the night when nature calls.
Around Christmas, our family hosted out of town company and had small get-togethers which was reason enough for my husband to grab giant Hefty bags, shoving in almost all toys in my twins’ possession. Before you feel really sorry for me (because you know what kind of backlash this would involve), let me clarify: these garbage bags were deposited in our garage. (You may recall from a prior installment my admission that the Peterson family garage would need its own organizational series.)
Well, almost 2 months have elapsed since Christmas. You may be wondering how many of my children’s beloved garbage-bagged toys they requested during this time? 2.
Now, I am most certainly reluctant to dispose of most of these items. After all, the majority of those items were gifts from people of which I am very fond. But I am reminded of the Marie Kondo way of thinking. Do these toys “spark joy?” Do my children look at them and get excited? If not, chances are they need to move on to greener pastures with children who would appreciate them. This, of course, does not take away from the joy that the toys had given them. I must shake the feeling that departing with these items is somehow a betrayal of those I hold near and dear. (Oh yes, guilt rules my world in that way.)
The Great Toy Purge
My mission will take place under the cover of darkness when my tots are sleeping because I’m not a glutton for that sort of severe punishment.
Step 1: I will bag up and donate all of the infant toys that still take up valuable space, although a small part of me feels that I’m tossing the memories of those toothless, grinning babies. Hmmm, I’m over it now! This narcoleptic twin mama does NOT take for granted the extra hours of sleep I’ve gained since my children have exited toddlerhood. Nor do I miss the regular Exorcist-style projectile mucus barfs that were nearly impossible to get out of my clothes. (And my husband’s clothes, and my dad’s…..)
Step 2: I’ll toss all of the junk toys. I’m talking about the Happy Meal toys, old toys that have broken or missing parts or the items that have unknown sticky/discolored/just-plain-scary funk for which I have no interest in busting out major elbow grease. Again, as a reminder, no one has asked for these since Christmas, so they must not be too essential.
Step 3: I must determine which toys might be more important when the kids get older. There are some baby dolls that my daughter is not interested in now, but she may go through a doll phase when she gets older. I know of a few very cool remote control items that my 4-year-old son recently found challenging to maneuver. In several years, I bet he will find much more enjoyment than frustration with these toys. I’ll box these up and to the basement they’ll go, visible and nicely labeled so they will not be overlooked.
Step 4: Betray your friends and family. Now that you’ve sorted out the stuff that’s either too young or too old for your kid and tossed the junk, you’re left with the gut-wrenching job. Time to get real. There may be a perfectly lovely toy that your perfectly lovely friend bestowed upon your child. When that birthday package was opened in front of lots of pairs of expectant eyes, your child was unimpressed or worse – disgusted. You go through the exhausting ritual of covering for your (spoiled) kid by lying that little Susie is so tired or hungry. The party’s over, and years later, that perfectly lovely toy remains untouched and unloved. Guess what? That will very likely not change. Time to pass it along to another tot who will appreciate it.
Step 5: Categorize. OK, I know this is not revolutionary. But if your toy situation has spiraled out of control as mine has, you’ve got to go back to basics. I’m going to grab big ole boxes and start sorting every remaining toy, like with like.
Step 6: Begin the toy rotation! Of what’s left, half of the toys will remain in boxes, labeled and relegated to our crawl space. The other half will be the group of toys currently “in play.” In other words, these will (gasp) return to the interior portion of our living space.
I’ve figured out what to save and what to pitch. Now, I’m left with (still) a bunch of toys and no real plan as to what to do with them. As usual, I head to the web to get some additional tips from the experts. As luck would have it, the best of the best just happened to be consolidated onto one website! Design Dazzle, where have you BEEN all of my life? Toni Roberts has compiled some truly awesome organizational ideas such as:
- Stacking plastic bins and labeling the outside with photos of each toy type. Simple, affordable and space-saving tip from familyeverafterblog.com. Obviously a terrific organizational tool for little ones who can’t read yet.
- Use a shoe organizer to store stuffed animals. This is great! My daughter is going through a big stuffed animal phase, so this tip from erikabrechtel.com should help her keep up with her “babies” much more easily.
- Put up a magnetic strip to hold Matchbox cars. My son has a wide array of cars, many of which were passed down from his dad and big brother. This brilliant solution from Design Dazzle would make a nice display and could eliminate some of the “Mo-om, where is my (fill-in-the-blank) car?” annoyances.
- Utilize under-the-bed shoe storage bins for toys. In this creative solution from serenitynowblog.com, blogger Amanda bought one of these bins and placed inside empty shoe boxes to give it some shape. The shoe boxes can hold small toys, accessories, or many other possibilities!
If you have children who are into Legos (mine aren’t yet), make sure you check out Toni’s site because she features some storage ideas to keep Legos from taking over your house (quite a feat, I’m sure).
And there you have it! Thus ends my “Let’s Get Organized” series, for this year at least. If you have any tried and true toy organization tools or techniques, I’d love to hear from you!
Please come back and visit next week for a recap and a peek at my progress along this journey. Thank you for coming along with me and for the support you have given me along the way!