Where Do We Put The Toys?
Thoughts and Ideas on Toy Storage
It happens. You go into parenthood thinking “I am going to be the parent who limits the options of toys, who doesn’t buy the cheesy loud light up crap everyone else buys”. Good for you. And good luck. Even if you do manage to avoid lights and noise, you will never avoid the ability of a child to wreak havoc on the living room, kitchen and bedrooms in a matter of 20 minutes. Embrace the mess for part of the day and then don’t excuse it, have a system. Get that room back in order, my friends. With the right storage options and a little routine, you can have a “Hurricane Baby Disaster Zone” tidied up in 15 minutes or less.
There are two main situations here. You are either a stay at home parent and you have grocery shopping to do, meals to cook, rooms to clean, laundry piles to tackle, doctors appointments and oil changes and weeds and well, you get the idea. OR you are a working parent and you come home and you have a lot of those same things to tackle AND you just want to spend time with your babies. Not cleaning. Toys on the floor quickly become the least of your worries because “They will just play with them again!” or “My kid doesn’t even help!” or any of those reasons. But at day’s end, after the kids are asleep and the dinner has been eaten, doesn’t it sound nice to sit down and do your thing (read, work, watch a movie) with your feet up and not feel like you are surrounded by the chaos of the day? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could sit down and see the floor, not step on the ungodly sharp object that no child should actually be playing with. Yes, yes you do, I know it. You cannot say you wouldn’t love that. Let me help you out here. 3 tips, thats it!
- Create a schedule/system that works for you! For example. I stay at home. So we clean up once around lunch time, and once right before dad gets home. And then I do a quick clean up right after bedtime routines before I am ready to relax.
- Get your kids involved!Any help from your kids is good help. Kiddos love to be helpers, they love to be needed and they love when you express feelings of thankfulness towards them. Cleaning up is an opportunity to cover all of these things. It may look like 20% your child’s help and 80% your own, but that’s fine, do we really want to wait an hour while our children get side tracked by the blue rubber snake that they have never cared about until now? Nope. We want a quick clean up. Encourage your child by handing them toys and pointing where they go. Eventually, even a 2 year old will remember general ideas and directions for clean up.
- Buy/Utilize storage systems that are easy and conceal quick!A lot of people assume that to be ultra organized all the time you have to keep all the toys categorized and color coded and yada yada. Sure that is fun and I may be guilty of doing that to my child’s toys once in awhile BUT for a daily routine, that is not a reasonable expectation. Think generalized organization. “Big odd shaped toys” go in the big box. Cars, trucks, trains, and anything that can be used with those go in one under the couch bin, while all blocks, legos, wooden people, and plastic happy meal toys can go in another. If your child plays with certain toys all the time, or you have an excessive amount of one toy, it might be more reasonable to keep it separated.
So This (about 1 hour of morning play)
Can become this (Timed clean up 10 minutes and 34 seconds & that was not rushed)
Here is what we use in our living room to keep our toys contained, yet accessible. Because we have a kid and we don’t mind that people know that when they walk into our home. And if you bring your kids over, we want them to wreak havoc among the toys as well!
We have open shelves, mostly because of the signals our tv, xBox, blu-ray and every other piece of technology needs to work, so we had to be strategic with storage. Baskets are the obvious answer. And a large crate for the large non-categorizable toys that are weird shapes and just don’t store easy. We like to make sure to have our things and toys/activities for the kids so it’s not a total kid zone. We chose two shelves for our movies and records, two for our technology this and thats, and three for Leo, two baskets, and one for books and puzzles that lay flat.
We don’t keep a lot of like things together constantly. It obviously gets strewn about quickly with a two year old, so the railroad tracks are really the only thing that stay separate. Leo uses these morning, noon and night. He knows where they go because he gets mad if they aren’t all together, because he needs all of them, all the time. It was an easy fix. Outside of train tracks, he pretty much doesn’t care. We go through once every month or so for our sake and just clear out and reorganize, so if you come to our house on that day you will think we are a-z and color coordinated freaks – not so.
We have two under the couch storage units. These were purchased at The Container Store and are actually for storing ties or socks. They keep things easy to see and not in one big pile. Blocks, cars, trains, duplos, melissa and doug figurines – there is a mish mash of everything. I love that the grey is close enough to the couch color that it flows nicely. They are also, just the right measurement to be able to push far enough back that they aren’t highly visible, yet big enough to be easy to reach for Leo.
And here is a close up of our big nonsensical toys, crate. You can see the placement of the crate in the 5th photo in the body of this post. We keep it on a bookshelf right when you walk in the door. I like that it keeps the open shelves tidy looking. It is in reach for Leo, and has handles on either side that make it easy for him to bring on and off the shelf.
Because everything has a basket and a place, even the big toys. It makes doing a 15 minute sweep SO easy. you do it three times and then you’ve pretty much figured out which place you like which toy to be in, you put it there quick and voila. As for getting your kids involved, when there isn’t a strict system, it is much easier to encourage them to help. Leo knows the toys go in the crates so throwing them in actually becomes fun for him. Sure, I do majority of the work but hey, if a two year old is willing to help and understands we can’t do the next fun thing until it’s done, then I would call that a success. Wouldn’t you?