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Organizing Kids Toys So Mom Can Stay Sane {Part 1}

Nothing overwhelms a mom like the wake left behind by a tornado of kids toys. Toy clutter drives me up the wall. The worst part is, it doesn't stop. Kids toys aren't like diapers that stay for a season, they stay around, change and evolve as the kids grow up! From birth to teen, toys take different forms, but it all means one thing for mom...clutter. I will take the tips on organizing toys I shared before and give you the nitty gritty details here on how I organize my kids toys {and keep my sanity}.

Bless Blast this Mess!

When silence takes over the house, it's never a good sign. Silence usually preceeds trouble in my house. It's my cue to check up on my son, and more often than not, I find a mess.
When I see the madness, it's enough to make my hair fall right out, but it doesn't have to be that way. Although I believe in letting kids play freely, I also believe in training them to put toys away properly.

Disclaimer: This is the mess I found after our system has been in place for almost a year. It's an ongoing training process, not a one and done task. You have been warned.

Containment & Categorization

Here's where we get down and dirty. Use this simple formula to take the pile from maddening to magical.

  • Sort the mess into categories
  • Assess the categories
  • Contain according to quantity
  • Store efficiently
  • Label creatively
The Ikea Trofast storage system is by far my favorite way to organize kids toys because of its efficiency and versatility. Efficient in that it can be my toy storage and table top all at once, and versatile in that the clean lines go with any decor and the container size combinations are almost limitless!

Ikea offers a variety of different bin colors, but I chose to go all white because I knew that I would use colorful labeling. I organized from the inside out by planning ahead. It took a bit longer, but in the end it will last us longer and keep us from going back and making corrections. Save yourself some time and money, and think it through ahead of time. My free room organization planner can help!

The labels I used are a bit crude if you own a craft cutting machine; alas, I am without the benefit of a fancy schmancy machine. Dry erase markers in a spectrum of colors works just as well and costs less too! Now let's take a closer look at my categories.

Building Toys {build}
I used the tallest space to house toys with the most pieces and grouped them together into one category, building toys. Notice that the bins are sized relative to the amount of pieces they contain.

Using a dry erase marker, I drew simple pictures to represent which toys belong in that container. In this instance lego duplo, wooden train tracks, and mega blocks.

Placement in the bins is a non issue. As long as the correct toys are in their proper bins, I don't care what they look like inside the bin. That makes it easy for my son to maintain.

Although this space is the tallest, my son can still reach the top bin, and the top is tall enough to put certain items that I want to keep out of his reach. It works for now while he's still a little guy.

Educational Toys {think}
The next column of toys is reserved for educational toys. Puzzles on the top, counting pegs in the middle and other miscellaneous learning toys on the bottom.

The bins are so useful for stacks of puzzles and I don't have to buy one of those metal racks that cost over $10, the bin I use costs $1.50 and it fits perfectly into my storage system. Gift!

Sometimes you have to account for randomness, but often they still somehow fit into a subcategory. That's what I did with the learning toy bin. Letter blocks, interactive laptop toys, and that toy with buttons and knobs that make animals pop up.

I tried to use simple one or two word labels for each bin and category and wanted each of my columns to be action words, hence "think" for this column.

Art supplies {create}
The last and shortest column in this tiered unit is the creative category. I purposely used the shortest column so that the top could be used as a writing surface. He can pull out what he needs and create all in one spot.

Even though these bins are shallow, there is more than enough room for all the art supplies we have in the top bin. The bottom bin can hold tons of scratch paper, coloring and activity books for him to peruse.

You may have noticed that each column is a different color. I did this for several reasons. First, I did it for my son, so that he knows where each bin goes if he pulls them out. Second, it's pretty!

This is the way I organized just one unit of toys. I'll spill the beans on my other unit and give you more inspiration on how to get those toys organized once and for all. We've got lots of toys, and as another birthday approaches, I'm already prepping our son for his first purge fest. More on that to come too!

Were you inspired to organize your toys differently? What other categories do you use to keep kids toys at bay? Tell us in the comments.

Update: Read part two here!
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