Do you feel like a toy volcano had a violent explosion in your house sometimes? How in the world do we contain all the legos, dinosaurs, teddy bears, puzzles, and trains when they just keep comin? Kids get gifts; month after month the piles grow, and they leave you with a limp after stepping on yet another toy left out on the floor. We’ve managed a system that helps tame the abundance, while allowing our home to still be kid-friendly, and lets mama breathe easy too. Keep reading if you’d like to see how we do it.
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I don’t keep many of my kids’ toys in their bedroom. To me, I want their bedroom to be a space that feels comfortable, organized, and generally calm. Why? Because this is the room I need them to sleep in.
Just like my own bedroom is my sanctuary, I won’t keep a desk or work materials in there. I never want my quiet rest space to have the distractions of work around. For one, it lends to clutter; and a cluttered bedroom gives me anxiety - not a sense of calm. For two, I don’t want to be tempted to get to working if I don’t need to be.
Back to the toys. I will keep stuffed animals in a toy chest and one toy box full of large toys in the bedroom. Otherwise all the dinosaurs, super heroes, cars, games, and everything is either in the main living space or stored in a closet, really. Here is my strategy with toys and keeping your house looking and feeling cozy, while also making it kid-friendly at the same time.
Having toys somewhat sorted helps children learn skills like matching & sorting that actually help their development. It also helps them know where to find what they want instead of asking Mom for the 237th time.
Step 1: Bins & Baskets Galore
Having lots of storage for toys is going to make clean up time and keeping the house looking neat much easier. Select storage bins that match your decor and keep them in areas the kids play the most. Because I want my boys playing where I can see them, the bulk of our toys are in this main living room area. Sorting toys is helpful, but don’t be stickler about maintaining that perfectly or you’ll drive yourself batty.
As you can see we have 2 big grey baskets for random small toys - we do keep ninja turtles and dinos together, and we like all our superheroes to live in the big round basket. It’s a breeze for my 2 and 4 year old to toss toys into these at clean up time. The plastic bins work much better than the canvas ones I had previously that just got trashed when my kiddos decided to pretend they were boats. Bins also help hide the piles better than just placing toys on a shelf.
Using smaller bins for things like crayons and paper help them be easily accessible for the kids while keeping them within some type of aesthetic with your home. Having bins and storage space helps children learn that things have a place, and when they can participate in picking up after themselves, they will learn responsibility and contributing to the family home.
Step 2: Rotate Toys In & Out
I refuse to have all toys out all the time. This probably comes from my teaching background, but definitely comes in handy at home. If your like us, your children have been gifted loads of toys. Likely more than they really need. And we know children can tend to get bored with toys as well.
Storing away toys and bringing them out on rotation is an excellent solution to the boredom issue and helps you have less toy explosion everywhere. I have 4 bins of toys stacked in this pantry space. Sticking to a weekly rotation hasn’t worked consistently for us BUT, when my kids are antsy, fighting, or we are stuck inside; we can simply pull out a bin of toys, and they are like new to the kiddos. Because these toys are constantly accessible, they seem extra special and it is just a lifesaver to not have to have a home for these out in our living space at all times.
Step 3: Declutter & Donate
Along with having an abundance of toys...and the fact that little children grow up crazy fast; we do need to take time to get rid of excess on occasion. I’d recommend finding a schedule that works for you; maybe quarterly or once a year (Spring Cleaning anyone)- and taking an hour or so to go through your child’s toys to let got of things that are either no longer working, or they’ve really outgrown (why do I still have baby stacking rings?) Some families adopt the strategy of getting rid of one toy whenever the child gets a new one, but that’s a bit too rigid for our family. You can choose to include your child in the process or do it on your own. I might suggest including your child if he/she is 3 or older, just to be sure you aren’t getting rid of a particular favorite. It could be a great opportunity to teach your child concepts like abundance, generosity, excess, etc when they choose to let go of something they own so someone else can enjoy it.
Besides giving it to a thrift shop, consider donating to daycares, local shelters or churches. Another idea is having a toy exchange with a group of mamas so you end up taking home something “new” at no cost. Of course you will want to toss toys that are broken or missing pieces, soiled or used beyond good condition.
These strategies help us maintain a home we enjoy, is easy to pick up, and looks cozy as well. If you enjoyed these ideas, please subscribe to our email list where we share more fun ideas and mom hacks. If you’d like more help at home, please check out my Manifest Mama Course - a 6 Module Course to elevate your mom experience so you can rock it out with more confidence and joy!
Malia was born and raised in Kaneohe, Hawaii and graduated from Azusa Pacific University. She spent the majority of her career as an Early Childhood Education Teacher/Administrator.