Written by Dina Holland
One of the number one requests I get from parents I work with is around toy storage. Kids these days have SO MANY toys. Between holidays, birthdays, very generous grandparents and that darn dollar section at Target, every parents I work with is struggling with how to get toy collections under control. If this sounds familiar, read on!
STEP ONE: EDIT, EDIT, EDIT and then keep editing. If you have older kids (ages 6+), asking them to give up 2-3 larger toys and 5-7 smaller toys before their birthdays and the holiday season serves the dual purpose of making room for new additions and teaching a valuable lesson of charity. Many parents are apprehensive to even broach the subject but I find that once you get them going, they will surprise even you with what they're willing to part with! Children under 6 have a much harder time understanding the concept of “giving away their toys” so for them I recommend parents pull some lesser used toys out of the rotation. If they ask about a particular toy that you’ve pulled, that toy can magically reappear after a nap. But if after a week they don’t make any mention of a toy, I think it’s safe to donate. Start today! You'll still have time to donate to this fall's Parent Talk sale and make room before the holidays approach!
STEP TWO: SELECT A STORAGE SYSTEM THAT WORKS FOR YOUR SPACE AND WITH YOUR KID'S TOYS My 2 go-to toy storage solutions are the IKEA EXPEDIT and ITSO bins from Target. I love the flexibility of these units! Most kids have a mix of small and large toys and I find the EXPEDIT perfect for holding both. LEGOS, toy cars, Little People, etc can be corralled in bins and baskets. I like mixing ITSO bins from Target with Land of Nod's Top Box Storage Collection.The ITSO bins fit the EXPEDIT cubbies so snuggly, it makes me giddy - zero wasted space. And the Land of Nod Top Box bins are colorful and transparent, making it easy for kids to find what they're looking for. Larger toys can sit in the EXPEDIT's open cubbies.
Here's this concept at work in my own home.
If you don’t have room for a stand-alone storage unit just for toys, provide your child with a few dedicated baskets that you can lineup along a wall in your family room. Some of my favorites can be found here. Whichever storage solution you go with, I think it’s important to store like toys together and label bins (use pictures for younger kids). This helps empower kids to find what they want and facilitates easy cleanup.
STEP THREE: CREATE A SYSTEM FOR DEALING WITH BIG FLOOR SPACE EATERS If your playroom is overflowing with super large toys that no storage solution can tackle, try removing all but 2 (say a train table and an art table). Move everything else into storage and create a library like system for your kids where they "check-out" toys. I print out photos of these larger toys and have them laminated onto flashcard sized cards. Once a week (and no more) they are allowed to use their cards to request a toy. Once a toy comes out of storage is has to stay there until the following week. You'll find that the same toys get requested over and over and others never do. Those never requested toys should be on your donation hit list! I hope you find these tips helpful!
Ultimately, you have to find the right balance for your family. I don’t think you should let your kid’s stuff take over the house but I also don’t think you should try to erase all signs that they live there either. After all, it’s their house too! A home with young children has an energy all its own and with thoughtful planning and careful editing I think you create a beautiful, functional and safe environment for all to enjoy.
Start clearing out some of the toy clutter and send your donations to the Parent Talk Used Clothing, Toy and Gear Sale! Head over here for the details on donating, consigning, volunteering and shopping for the sale.
About the Author
Dina Holland, mom of two young boys ages 3 and 8 months, Needham resident, fellow Parent Talk member and blogger and designer at Honey & Fitz. She works primarily with young families on creating comfortable, kid friendly homes that are sophisticated enough for the adults in the house but tough enough to withstand active little ones.
Disclosure: There are no affiliate links in this post.