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Operation Clean House: Toy Chest Touch Up

A toy chest is a wonderful thing; it is large and hides giant toys from sight.  It also hides giant messes and can be a toy abyss if you neglect it.  When my son was an infant, it worked great because all infant toys are fairly large {to prevent choking} and pretty easy to arrange neatly.  Once he hit toddlerhood, the toys got smaller and more abundant.  As the toys grew more abundant, so did our mess.  Mountains of clutter abounded in our home because my boy is a dumper!  He loves exploring and destroying as a way of play.  I allow it to some extent, but lately it has gotten out of hand.  The time has come for him to begin earning his organizing badge and this project was a great teaching opportunity for him to learn the value of order.
Take a look at how well we fake it!
Faking the funk by hiding the mess in the toy chest
Now here's me keepin' it real...
The mess hiding inside
I recently purchased some toy storage systems for our son's playroom {to be revealed soon}, and was inspired by such a simple solution to the toy chest tumbler.  My simple toy chest solution cost six measly dollars!  That's right six bucks transformed my toy chaos into toy joy, and my son learned a life lesson in the process!

Here's the storage inspiration {from IKEA}
With some of my other projects like the Master Closet, I needed my space and didn't want the little guy's "help".  With this, however, we were organizing his own toys, so I felt that it was important to for him take part in the process.

First, I laid out the empty bins on our coffee table.

Then I let him do all the sorting himself {with my guidance, of course}.  We took out each toy and determined together what kind of toy it was {a car, a ball, etc.}.  Once we figured out what kind of toy it was, it was his job to put the toy in its new home.

Doing a great job sorting!

Toys too big for a bin were separated {"I do it all by myself" as he likes to say}.

Toys that he outgrew would get put away {to be revealed soon too}.

Once my son learned how to sort his toys into their own boxes {cars, wooden vehicles, indoor ball play, doctor toys, looky-loo toys, and magnet blocks}, I needed to decide how to arrange them in the toy chest.  I went into the project thinking I already knew how I would arrange it {I assumed something similar to my inspiration...stacked in several short columns}.  It wasn't that easy.  I had to re-think the original arrangement after I sorted, took inventory of the larger toys, and removed the infant toys he had outgrown.  Some of the larger toys that we decided to keep were almost the entire length of the toy chest, so I arranged the bins to accommodate that by lining them up into one long column along the front length of the toy chest.

Here's the finished product.

And the boy's eye view of the fun.

Look at the difference again side by side.

I love looking at the inside of the toy chest now!  In the days before our six dollar makeover, my son would literally climb into the toy chest to dig for a toy that he wanted.  Now, he doesn't need to!  He can clearly see the inside of the bins, pull out the one with the toys he wants to play with, and off he goes.  This bin system also helps to keep clutter mountain down to a mole hill.  I thought about labeling the bins, but since they are see through, I held off for the time being.  Who knows, I may get in a label making rage and throw some on later, but for now, it's a great system that is beautifully simple and wildly inexpensive.

My son did a great job!  It just goes to show that young kids can learn how to organize {with parental guidance}.  Also, involving kids in organization projects is not only fun for them, but also teaches them to do what Mommy {or Daddy} does to take care of the house.  He definitely earned his organization badge with this project, and he's a natural!  It must be hereditary {wink}!  Organization is one gift that I am more than happy to pass down to the next generation.

Is your toy chest turning into a toy abyss?  Are you pulling your hair out trying to organize the smaller toys so they won't get buried?  Try some simple dollar shoe boxes for cheap, effective organization and keep your kids out of the toy chest once and for all.  What else have some of you done to tame the toy chest mayhem? Please share your stories and comment below!

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