In today’s post, I want to talk about toys. Obviously, you need toys to entertain your kids. And, undoubtedly, even if you try to keep your toy collection on the smaller side between grandparents and birthdays, eventually our collection grows. And as the collection grows it can feel like you have more and more toys and yet your kid is playing with them less and less.
I’m going to share some toy storage tips and organization hacks to help you stay on top of your kid’s toys so that they can provide your little ones some of the fun and engagement you want without you feeling like you’re drowning in them.
I am ride-or-die by toy rotation. I honestly think it’s the FIRST and MOST IMPORTANT step to not having a home overwhelmed by toys. It’s something I learned when teaching preschool and have adopted in parenthood. I’ve written an entire post on how to use toy rotation, but I’ll give you a quick overview.
If you’ve never used toy rotation, it is the idea of only letting your kid have access to a portion of their toys at once and the rest are in storage. When your child has too many toys available they can get bored of them. There’s something called “toy fatigue” which basically means that their favorite toy can start to look like a boring piece of junk. Not to mention, having too many toys out can also be overwhelming and often leads to less engaged play.
So, instead, by rotating toys, you keep the selection new, fresh, and concise. There aren’t too many choices. And, every time you rotate the toys, it’s like they have all new things to explore.
Again, I have an entire post all about toy rotation including some tips if you’re trying to rotate with older kids.
Use a Shelf Instead of a Toy Box
A shelf in a play space as opposed to a toy box or basket is on key to keeping things organized. Having a toy box is a nice idea in theory because you can just throw all the toys in for easy clean-up. But, it’s not conducive to engaged play because your child can’t easily see the toys at a glance, and the pieces needed for each toy/activity aren’t always right together.
The concept behind a toy shelf, particularly in Montessori parenting, is that toys are presented in an easy, simple, decluttered way for your child. All the pieces needed for each toy are together so play is easy. It’s also low, at your child’s level, so they can easily help themselves to the toys they want. It also helps immensely with toy rotation (see above).
IKEA Spice Rack for Books
I LOVE these IKEA spice racks because they are actually PERFECT for kid’s books. I like it because I can put out enough books to keep him entertained but I’m not putting out our entire collection. I know if I put out the entire collection, then every day he’d pull them all down and every day I’d be putting them all back.
Store Unused Toys in Like-Item Bins
So, one key to toy rotation is obviously storing a good portion of toys away. And, make sure to watch my toy organization video linked at the top of this post to see exactly how I store them. But, the basic idea I follow is taking all like toys and putting them in like plastic bins. For example, I have one with “Toys with Wheels,” on that’s “Building Toys,” one that’s “Fine Motor Skill Toys,” and so on. This makes putting away and finding toys during rotation and cinch.
Have a Dedicated Place for Unused Toys Out of Kid’s Reach
Not to sound like a broken record, but toy rotation really helps to keep the toys from overwhelming the house. And, part of that being successful is only letting your kids have access to a small portion of their toys at once. So, I highly suggest finding a place to store the rest where kids can’t get to them. I use the basement, but an attic, garage, or child-proof closet works. I personally bought this muscle rack and it’s AMAZING. Super easy to switch up the sizing and NO TOOLS required to put it together.
Use a Mesh Laundry Bag for Toys with Small Pieces
Another hack I love using to keep toys with smaller pieces in a mesh laundry bag. I bought this bulk set on Amazon. So many kids’ toys have all these little itty bitty pieces and they get lost and misplaced SO freaking easy. Not to mention, the boxes they come in break and fall apart. But these mesh bags help keep everything together in a really simple easy way.
They are also great for keeping pretend play items together, I use one of the big ones for all our kitchen play stuff.
Store Puzzles In a Pantry Rack
A quick hack down here for storing puzzles is to use a pantry rack, these are usually used for like cutting boards and pot tops, but they are great for wooden puzzles.
Have a “Little Pieces” Basket
I always keep a small basket near the play area. Going back to one big problem of kid’s toys which is that so many of them have so many little pieces that get lost very easily. They get misplaced, roll under the couch, end up in the wrong bin, etc. So, whenever I see a random toy lying around I throw it in this “little pieces” basket. Then every few weeks I take 10 minutes to bring this basket down to where I store all my toys and place them back with the toys they go with.