What are some simple toy storage tips that are manageable with young kids?
Toy storage and organization is something that's always on the minds of parents. Trying to tackle it sometimes feels like you're on a treadmill to nowhere. You finally get one space feeling good, only to discover another one that's not working!
Inside this post I'm going to share some simple tips and favorite toy storage tools that have helped me (mostly) successfully tackle the toy chaos at our home!
Toy storage and organization are hard because they're a constant moving target as kids grow, find new favorite toys, and change! If only they'd stay in the same toy stage forever- you'd finally get it right!
Over the last 15 years as a mom of four, I've tried out a lot of organization ideas and have found some that work consistently for our family.
I'm excited to share some toy organization tools & tips that have been helpful for us in this post!
Why is toy organization important?
1. When toys are organized, kids play with them more!
It's your child's job to play, so when their toys are organized, you are helping them be more successful in their job!
Imagine getting to work and having all of your papers and materials strewn all about your office. You'd be so distracted by the chaos that you wouldn't be able to focus to get your work done. You might not be able to find anything either. Our kids are the same!
Good organization = better play.
2. Having an organized play space can also make clean up time easier.
It's important that everything has a spot and kids know where the toys go! Kids and adults can use less brain power as they try and figure out where to put things. There will already be a system! When it takes less effort to clean, you'll have more buy in from kids and they'll be more willing to help.
3. When your home feels organized, you also feel happier and more relaxed. So do your kids!
Kids take their cues from their parents and people around them. If they can feel your stress about their toys while they play, they're not going to have a successful play time. When you're less worried about a mess, knowing it will all get put back together easily, they'll be more relaxed too.
Reminder! Just because you have an organized house, doesn't mean it won't ever get messy! It just will be easier to clean up because you have a system in place to put everything away!
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Why is toy organization so hard with kids?
1. Kids are kids.
Toy organization is hard with kids because they aren't robots, they're kids! How they want to play will be different everyday. This means how toys are organized and what is stored can change. Their brains are still developing and they're also not emotionally mature enough to manage all of their feelings about the whole toy organization experience, so that can be hard to balance as a parent when you don't want a cluttered and overloaded house and they want to save every McDonalds toy.
2. Changing interests.
Kid's interests are constantly changing and the toys they like to play with can change too. Your child might be obsessed with Pokemon and you finally helped them get all their cards organized... and then they decide they never want to play with Pokemon again.
I've been there. It's hard.
3. Kids are growing.
Kids are learning and developing at a fast pace, especially in the early years! Toys that they loved as a two year old are sometimes less interesting to them at age three when they're ready for more complex toys.
4. The revolving door of toys and holiday gifts.
Your toy area can feel like a revolving door as birthdays and holidays come and go and kids get new toys to play with. It's hard to get a handle on things and get organized when you're frequently adding new things in.
Toy storage can be an ongoing challenge as toys come in and go out, but if you set up good systems and have flexible storage pieces, it gets easier!
How do we decide what toys can stay in our home and what toys need to go?
We share our favorite toys and toy philosophy here.
A few times each year we look at our systems and toys and decide what toys can stay and what toys need to find a new home. This can be hard sometimes. Kids have emotions and get attached to toys (even toys they don't use any more).
When we can, we try and work together with kids to make decisions about what stays. Working together can be challenging but rewarding!
How do you organize a cluttered playroom?
Cluttered playrooms can be overwhelming! They make kids and adults stressed out and make it hard to play. Taking time to put an organization system in place can save you time, money, and a big headache!
Here are some simple toy storage tips for playrooms!
When you're getting organized and trying to make your playroom less cluttered, here are some places to start.
1. Take out all the the toys and group similar items together.
2. Look at your space and decide what toys you have space for and where they will go.
3. Decide which toys get to stay in the playroom and which ones need to go somewhere else or be given away?
4. Look at the containers you have and decide what toys work the best in each of them. I try and put one type of toy or category of toy in each bin to keep it simple for clean up.
5. Buy additional bins or baskets if needed.
6. Bonus! Label your bins. When my kids were littler I labeled them with pictures and now I label them with text. I love these bin labels.
If you want an organized playroom where kids are motivated to play, you need to make sure you don't have more toys than your space allows.
When toys are organized, kids play with them more! If this is your goal, be thoughtful about what you allow to stay in your space.
Three favorite items for playroom organization
I love to use these different tools to organize toys in playrooms.
1. IKEA Kallax Shelving Unit- This reasonably priced shelving unit is spacious and great for storing toys. We've had ours for almost 10 years and it's still going strong! We've stored it inside closets, in the family room, and in a spare bedroom. It's versatile!
2. Clear plastic containers- These are actually large shoeboxes! They're great for toys that you want kids to be able to see. I like to use these for toys that are pretty organized and colorful.
3. Wicker Baskets- These are helpful for toys with a variety of parts or pieces that you don't want to see. I love tossing things into these (like Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head pieces) and not seeing the mess from the outside of the basket. We got ours at Target.
4. Sterilite White Book bins- These book bins can be used for a variety of things. I love them for books because they make it easy for kids to flip through them and find the book they want! So many of our Instagram followers that are teachers recommended these and I've loved them for the last two years!
5. Fabric bins- These baskets are light and easy for kids to move around. The 13x13 size fits perfectly in my IKEA They are also a solid color on the outside so you can't see the mess inside. I like these for dress up clothes, accessories, dolls, etc.
Simple toy storage tips in a family room
Family rooms (or living rooms) are often the gathering spot in a house! Families typically spend a lot of time there and when guests come, you hang out there. If the main area of your home always feels cluttered and disorganized, it can be hard to relax and have fun together and play.
Let's dive in to some tips to help!
Here are my top tips for storing toys in a family room (or living room) if you want to feel like it's not just a giant toy room.
1. Group similar toys together. This makes clean up easier.
2. Use open top baskets or bins for easy access and quick clean up.
3. Tuck things out of sight or in a corner (like behind a couch, in a cupboard, or on a shelf), to pull out when needed.
Storage ottomans can also be a game changer for storing toys.
In my family room, I store all our toys in baskets in the space behind the couch. You can't see them from the door when you enter the room, so it makes me feel like the room is a cozy family gathering spot, not just a mess of toys. Kids bring the toy baskets out to play and then we can move them back when we tidy up the space at the end of the day! Easy!
Our family room is next to the kitchen. The kitchen is usually where I hang out. The kids always want to be near me. By having the toys so close to the kitchen, I can still be productive during the day and kids feel confident with me nearby to go and play independently. Yay!
Organizing toys in a small bedroom
Toys in bedrooms? Is that ok? Every family has their own rules, but in our house, kids have toys in their bedrooms! Here's how we organize them!
Why keep toys in bedrooms?
1. You can shut the door and the mess can stay there!
2. Kids have stuff to play with during quiet time in their rooms.
3. It's nice to minimize the clutter in other areas of the house.
4. Kids have a private (or semi-private) place to go and play when they need some down time.
5. Kids have a place to keep their special toys.
Three favorite storage items for bedrooms
I love to use three different tools for toys in small bedrooms.
1. Underbed storage boxes- I use these for LEGO bricks, dolls and doll clothes, and a few other specific toys. They're easy to pull out for play and push back under the bed once play is done. They can also double as a big sensory bin when we need it.
2. Tall Gray Sterilite bins- I use these for closet shelves. Each bin is for a specific type of toy (Duplo, Hatchimals, Little Live Pets, Barbies, etc.) and has an open top for easy clean up. Before I purchased these, I measured my shelves and got the right size to fit. If a particular collection of toys gets too large and doesn't fit in the bin any more, it's time to say goodbye to some of the toys.
3. Storage bench- This doubles as a fun reading spot or place to store dolls while also having bins to keep various toy accessories. We just buy 13x13 fabric bins from Target to put in our bench. Ours store Calico Critters and LEGO sets that kids are still finishing or don't want to take apart.
As a busy mom of four kids, I don't have tons of time to monitor clean up time or have a complicated organization system in kid's bedrooms. These three simple tools have been helpful for our family!
How do you store too many stuffed animals?
My daughter used to have so many stuffed animals on her bed that there wasn't much space for her to sleep!
We needed to find a solution that worked for both of us and didn't involve giving all of her stuffed animals away!
We found a stuffed animal bean bag storage chair and it solved our problem immediately!
Where it started...
Why use a stuffed animal bean bag chair?
Our stuffed animal bean bag storage chair has been a game changer! No more stuffed animals everywhere! I ordered the medium.
It helps keep all the stuffed animals reigned in and gives them a place to live that isn't all over my daughter's bed or constantly visible. I don't want to see them all the time!
Kids can easily add stuffed animals in the bean bag or take them out and zip it back up. You can also add in a blanket to give your bean bag extra padding.
The stuffed animal bean bag doubles as a cute place to sit and read books.
It makes it easy for kids to do a quick clean up of stuffed animals in their room too. I love it!
How it looks now...
How do you store magnetic tiles?
Here are some simple toy storage tips for magnetic tiles!
Having a quick and simple storage solution for the magnetic tiles makes playtime and clean up easy!
Our magnetic tile storage solution is simple! We use Plastic bins that can go under a bed or on a closet shelf! Easy!
I love the 16 Qt Clear Sterilite bins because kids can carry them from room to room and they are stackable. We have 2-3 bins for magnetic blocks and clean up is a snap!
We also love Magformers and keep them in our family room in an open top basket on a shelf. Baskets are great for toy storage because kids can usually pull them down without much help and put them back.
What's an easy way to store LEGO bricks?
We have a super simple toy storage tip for LEGO bricks! Each family has different needs when it comes to LEGO storage. It's important to figure out what works best for you and your budget, space, and organization style!
How it started:
With four kids that are LEGO fans, we have a lot of LEGO bricks! When kids were little we started off with small clear plastic bins of LEGO that could stack easily in closets or on family room shelves and be brought to different spots around the house.
How it changed:
As our family grew and we had lots of littles running around, we didn't want to have LEGO bricks in easily accessible places for young babies and toddlers to try to eat or get into.
This is when LEGO bricks were all moved into big kid bedrooms. Doors could be closed and little siblings had a harder time accessing (and destroying creations).
What it looks like now:
Now, LEGO bricks are stored under beds in large under-bed storage bin and bedrooms are designated as LEGO building zones. This keeps the LEGO mess and creations contained to specific areas and makes clean up easier!
Kids roll the under-bed storage bin out when they want to play with LEGO and then they put the lid back on and push it back under the bed when they're done.
What if they want to build somewhere else?
If kids want to build with LEGO bricks somewhere else in the house, they can grab a small empty plastic storage bin from their closet and fill it up with some bricks and take the bin anywhere! Once they're done, they put the bricks back in the small bin and dump it back into the large bin. Easy peasy!
We don't organized our LEGO bricks by color, size, or style because that isn't something that our kids need.
Our under-bed LEGO storage bins are simple, easy to use, and an inexpensive!
Don't love our idea? My friend Beth at Days with Grey has a different LEGO storage system that works for her family.
How can you display LEGO creations?
You have kids who love to create with LEGO, but you're tired of them taking up every surface on the floor and counter? What can you do?
We found a great way to display LEGO creations and we can't wait to share it!
A pegboard LEGO display wall is a great solution for getting LEGO creations off the floor and in a spot where kids can admire their great work!
It also keeps them away from younger siblings who might try and knock them down.
A year or so ago we ordered a Large Modern Pegboard from Tex Wood Builds on Etsy. We picked the size based on our wall measurements and then ordered a few extra shelves to be able to add in when we needed them.
I love how my son can reach his LEGO creations to take them off the shelves and play with them and then easily return them.
We no longer have a dresser covered in LEGO masterpieces that we are worried will get knocked down!
Do you have other favorite ways that you store or display LEGO? We'd love to hear about them in the comments.
What's the best way to organize games?
Games are a thorn in my side these days. With such a range in ages of kids and consistent game usage at our house, we haven't found the perfect system for us yet! I'll let you know when we do.
Here are some game storage ideas that other families love:
Zipper Pouch Game Storage via Busy Toddler
Storage Case Game Storage by Practical Perfection
What about storage for arts and crafts supplies?
We have so many favorite tools to help you tackle this!
Every family organizes and uses their home differently! Hopefully some of these simple toy storage tips were helpful for you and gave you some ideas for your house!
Did we miss anything? What other questions do you have about toy storage? Let us know in the comments!