Organizing toys in the living room

I hate toys. I don’t really hate toys themselves, but I hate how disorganized they can get. See the below picture as evidence. 

And before you are tempted to say I am a horrible mother for hating toys, I should say that I am very glad my children have toys. Over the years, I have attempted to be selective in what toys I have brought into the house. I prefer toys that can be used for building and inspire imagination and creativity. I love LEGOs, play kitchen toys and toy trains. 

But the problem with my preferred type of toys is that they have lots of pieces. And lots of pieces require lots of storage. And organization. Don’t forget organization. But organizing toys isn’t easy. 

I have been trying to organize our toys for years. I have tried buckets and bins. We even have used bookshelves for toy storage. (One thing I learned in this area is not to use tall bookshelves for small child toys. They can’t reach them.)

But as much as I have tried to organize our toys, there have been two problems.

  1. I did all the organizing and did not include the kids.
  2. Our toys have legs – specifically the names of the small children in my house.

This past week, I made another attempt to organize the toys in our house. (See the above picture as to why it was necessary. Again.) This time, I had my son help me out. It took longer than if I would have done it myself, but I’m hoping that he will be more likely to stick to the new organizational plan, despite how his sisters may try to change it.

While we were at it, I had him sort through and get rid of the toys they no longer play with. While some of them did take a little convincing, I think we are both happy with the toys we got rid of and the ones we kept. (The toys we got rid of have joined the other toys in the garage that I am getting rid of. Read about my garage challenge here.) Last week, I mentioned that I hate getting rid of toys, but I don’t want to keep toys that we don’t play with if they are taking up space that we can use for toys we do play with and for toys we could get and play with. So to that end, we set our mega bloks out on the street. 

While it was hard to do and made me sad to see them go because some of them were at my grandma’s house when I was a kid, I like that we have some space back. I also am glad to know that someone else will have fun with them.

So how did we attempt to organize the toys this time? Take a look.

We rearranged the small green containers and moved the train tracks out of their tote on the bookshelf. Now all of our trains fit into one bin, with the exception of the large pieces that still live in the round blue bin. (I hope to eliminate this bin as well, but it will take a bit of time.) My son also took some of his Hotwheel cars out of the car bin, also on the bookshelf, and put them into the green bins. My hope is that with the train tracks and cars in these containers, they will be put away quicker and in the correct places. I also grouped some of our other toys together by type.

I put my daughters’ play food into a larger container. The one they had was too small for all of their food. 

The bottom of my son’s workbench was a disorganized mess. So I used a small crate and put all of his tools in it. I also used a flat pencil holder to house his small collection of Nerf ammunition. For all the random, and unexpected, pencils I found on his workbench, I gave him a round pencil holder. 

While the solutions we employed were simple and, really, quite small, they have made a big difference. I guess the moral of the story is, it doesn’t matter how simple a solution is, if it works, use it.