If it seems like organizing toys is an endless process, it is! Children outgrow toys,
they break, and pieces go missing. Then, there is the toy multiplication factor.
Birthdays and Christmas add to our toy collections the most. Consider one
birthday party. Many children now invite their whole class or day care group to
their party, so feelings aren’t hurt. That’s a lot of gifts coming in!
Organizing Ideas and Products
I am going to outline some simple steps to organize toys and make “pick
up”: easy for every age. These steps have been tested on my children, my
grandchildren and numerous clients. They work! So here you go:
1. Empty the toy closet, baskets, and other toy containers. You may need to
go to a variety of rooms. Toys are often in a play room, children’s bedrooms and
other living areas. Gather them all in one spot. Even though this takes
time, many parts to a game or toy sets are not together in one room.
2. Group like items together. Puzzles, games, cars, dolls, dinosaurs, on and
3. Toss broken toys.
4. Donate toys that are no longer being used or that your children have
outgrown. This is especially important to do before birthdays or Christmas
to make room for the new toys that will be coming.
5. Use containers (baskets, bins, etc.) to put like toys together. Avoid the use
of deep chests or baskets as small pieces essentially get “lost” at the
A “Trofast” storage system from Ikea works well.
Also, a cube system like this from Target is a good solution
If you have a toy closet, simply put the bins in the closet. Arrange the bins
so the smaller children’s toys are lower and easier to reach.
You may consider repurposing a piece of furniture to store toys. A dresser,
armoire, or hutch can make for great toy storage.
Finally, over the door shoe bags are great for storing little cars, Barbies, action figures or art
supplies. They do not have to be placed over a door; they can be attached
to a wall. This one if from Bed, Bath and Beyond,
6. Label, label, label! Preferably with words AND pictures. The picture shown
below is using this clip label from the Container Store.
Take a photo of the toy, print and insert. Children of all ages can help with
clean up. Using a label with words and pictures makes it east for all ages to help with pick up!
7. I have left one of the most important to the end. Rotate toys. When
children have too many toys to choose from, they jump from toy to toy.
They will play longer with each toy if the selection is less. There is less
overwhelm in general. Use a bin or box and pack up 1/3 to ½ of their toys.
Place in a closet, basement or attic. Every month or so, take these toys out
and box up the current toys. It is so much fun to watch the children take
delight in their “new” toys!
Make it a Family Activity!
Engage your children in this entire process as much as possible. When they have
input as to how their toys are organized, where they go, and what the labels say,
they will take ownership. Set aside a 10 minute (or more) clean up time before
naps, bed time or whenever clean up is needed, put on a clean up song, and make “pick up” a fun family activity!