With the children at home for the school holidays, massive amounts of toys scattered all over the floor are a common occurrence in my house. Daily. And several times a day. The one thing I’m now really grateful for is that we have a system in place – a toy storage solution, if you like. My children’s toys are organised by type, or category. And if you’re reading this and think I’m sucking the joy out of their lives with my obsessions to keep things organised, I can tell you that they actually thrive on having some sort of system going. Because everyone knows what they’re doing and how to find things! And we’re very rarely in a situation where they can’t find something. Because everything has its own place.
So call it a system, call it a ‘hack’ (I kind of hate the term), call it OCD (a lot of people do call it that, to be fair), but here are some things we’ve implemented and that work for us. Could they work for you?
1. Use storage boxes for the smaller items your children have a lot of
For us it’s toy cars (2 boxes), train sets (3 boxes), animals (1 box), dinosaurs (1 box), and lego (1 box). When my eldest boy was little, he started to really like and collect Hot Wheel and Matchbox cars. They’re so tiny that when he was looking for a specific one it was impossible to find it! So I had to get him a storage box just for his cars. Slowly and over time, the collection expanded, and now we have one for small cars and one for bigger cars. As he grew a little older he got into trains. And then animals and dinosaurs. (Oh, the dinosaurs!) Different ages and different phases, I guess. But now (thanks to good old Ikea) we’re glad we have several boxes where we can keep everything organised. And I use a couple of smaller ones too for all their colouring bits and pieces!
2. Keep all their ‘sporty toys’ together
Our Middle Guy never really showed too much interest in his older brother’s cars or train sets. He’d play with the animals from time to time, but it was always very clear that he just loved to hold a ball in his hand. I say hold, but I really mean throw. Or kick. And later on, hit. So we now have a big basket full of tennis balls, soft footballs, table tennis balls, rackets, basket balls, rugby balls etc. Oh, and that’s just what lives indoors, in the living room. I bought a professional-size football bag (one of those that football coaches take with them to matches) for all the stuff that lives in the garden – footballs, cricket sets etc.
3. Gather all board games and jigsaw puzzles onto a shelf
Games like BBQ Party, Bugs in the Kitchen, Twister, Droughts, Memory, Connect 4, and a few others live in this ‘category’. And on a dedicated shelf in the boys’ bedroom. It’s quite high up, just to avoid the Littlest Guy getting his hands on anything he shouldn’t or simply taking everything out at the same time and mixing all the pieces together. Ok, this does happen. Sometimes. And tidying up is a real pain, but board games do come in handy in the winter months or rainy days!
And not just board games – jigsaw puzzles are big favourites in our household too. These are all boxed items, so I find that a natural place for them is on a shelf or cabinet. All of ours live at the bottom of our bookshelf in the dining room. They are perfect for our youngest boy, so I leave these somewhere where he can easily help himself.
4. Put all soft toys in a basket
To be honest, I don’t quite remember how and when we accumulated so many soft toys. Teddy bears, hand puppets, little tigers, lions and elephants… I just really don’t quite know how they got there! I’m pretty sure I’ve never bought one for the children! Or have I?! It’s great to have so many soft toys, of course. It means they always have a pretend pet when they engage in imaginative play. And that they can always have a new favourite to take to bed with them for a cuddle in the night. But the basket they currently live in is nearly overflowing, so I think I little decluttering is in order here.
5. Have a catch-all system for all other toys
Over the last 8 years, my 3 children have collected a lot of stuff. It’s not just the things they love, want and that we buy them, but also the toys that they get given as presents or that they bring home in party bags from the various birthday parties they are invited to, for example. So we have a real mixed bag of toys, quite literally. We have two, in fact. Two Ikea baskets where I collect all the toys that don’t fall in any of the other categories or storage areas! I declutter these quite often, as I notice that some of the things never really get taken out much, despite us keeping these baskets right there in our living room, where the boys spend most of their time.
How do you keep your children’s toys organised? Do toys create a lot of mess in your house? Do you find you spend a lot of time tidying them up?