Thursday, September 20, 2007

Controlling the Chaos: TOYS

I am an obsessive crazy woman organizer. I love to have a "place for everything" and I definitely love when "everything is in its place".

I have been battling the TOYS in my house for a few years now! I admit, like most American households, we have too many. We try to keep up with giving some away and getting rid of unused ones, but even when we do our home is filled with them. Now that I have three little ones, the toy chaos grows because there are toys for more varied ages!

I finally decided that I had to do some major organizing. I wasn't happy just putting various things in baskets all around. I can be sent over the edge don't like finding doll house parts in the toy chest for stuffed animals, ya know?

I began realizing that most toys could be grouped. There were dress ups, little people, cars, Mr. Potato Heads, and on down the line. We had been "trying" to keep the groups together, but with no really good system. Things were always getting lost or misplaced.

I decided that the toys were going to be put away in bins by groups, so I headed to the store and bought a TON of bins. Slowly, I put groups of toys that made sense in the bin and labelled it. Now that toy HAD to be put away in THAT bin.

I bought big bins for toys such as Geo Trax and small bins for the Disney Toy Story figurines. I was giddy with delight quite pleased with my new system as I watched it fall into place.

Now I needed a place to put all of the bins. I did not have a closet with the proper space or shelving. I pondered the idea of bookcases. That would have worked, but instead my handy husband built me some adjustable shelving in the basement and here is the final result:

One of the hardest parts of this was determining the toy groups and how to divide it up, so I am going to list my labels for you, so you can begin to look at your toys in terms of "groups". Perhaps some of these will be useful:

Balls: this includes all of the small balls around, including the ones for the baby's Fischer price toys.

Musical Instruments

Barbies: this includes the dolls and all clothing. I was going to try to put all of the clothing in its own container, but even I know when I am going overboard.

Geo Trax: has one large bin right now and one small bin for overflow track. We need a second large bin. You can see in the picture that the new Rainbow Bridge isn't fitting.

Doll Clothes

Dress Ups: began as one large bin, but we really have a ton. (love yard sales) I made a smaller bin for shoes, one for purses, and one for scarves (a favorite of my girls). This is nice because some days we just bring up the purses and shoes.


Little People: this includes all of the little people animals and people for the garage, dollhouse, zoo, and Noah's Ark. I resisted combining them. I had this crazy obsession nice idea that they should all be kept with the original groupings. I let go...and it has been GREAT having ONE container to bring out with all of the characters. They enjoy having the animals when playing with the dollhouse and vice versa.

Mr. Potato Head



Small Vehicles: includes Match Box cars, Thomas the Trains, and other small cars. (If you have a lot of Thomas trains they will need their own container)

Larger Vehicles: This is for the dump trucks, bulldozers, race cars, etc...(yes, my girls LOVE cars)

Stuffed Animals and Baby Dolls

Baby Toys: safe ones for D!

Misc: Yes, this is the dumping ground. It is a large bin with etch a sketch, shape sorter, and other stuff that needed a grouping. It is nice to save this bin for a rainy day.

Other large toys are just placed on the shelf: The Little People sets, the HUGE cement mixer, Barbie cars, etc.

NOW, for upstairs, I don't like the plastic bins and I use baskets. Same idea, no labels, and A LOT less toys. These baskets contain books, diapers, board games, puzzles, and there is one bin of toys. (This shelf is from IKEA)

The obvious benefit of this is the clean up! Clean up has been so much easier and we take all of the bins back downstairs before bedtime. Our house is clutter free before we go to sleep at night!

During the day, we just bring up a few bins at a time. I have noticed that my children's play is much more focused now! They don't jump from toy to toy! The bin system helps them focus on the toys because they know that they have to put those bins away in order to get a new one. (depending...)

This has been the best system I have found for our house, but I am always looking for new ideas or ways to improve! Feel free to leave a suggestion.


MorningSong said...

Great details. We did the same, not nearly as organized as you've done. I also noticed that our kids enjoyed their toys more when they were not as accessible.


Short Stop said...

You are SO organized! The baskets in your upstairs look GREAT! Thank you for sharing your tips. Organization is something I'm learning...doesn't come naturally to me at all, but I think I'm slowing getting it. Tips like these really help!

weavermom said...

GREAT ideas!!

Mississippi Songbird said...

That's a great system!
Thanks for sharing

Lori said...

That is an awesome idea.
I do much of the same thing around here...just not quite as many different tubs.
I have lots of baskets and tubs for toys too .
To de-clutter Megans and Derek's room I got two tubs that would fit under her bed.
We also have a toy room downstairs that I try to keep organized.

LilyLakeMom said...

Great post! I love bins and baskets too, and our toys are in the same kind of categories. Thanks for sharing your pictures. I am very disorganized by nature, but with all the kids and their 'stuff' I've had to learn to get it together! Everyday, I still have to consciously remember to put the toys, etc. back in their designated spot, but it makes life so much easier. I've been down the path of disorganization and chaos and it is a miserable way to live.
Now, I may have some laundry piled up and a bit of dust...but I have got plenty of bins!

Penless Thoughts said...

Sounds like a wonderful system. I am one who says "A place for everything.....and everything in it's place". I like things nice and orderly :o)

Michelle said...

Ok.Great post and I'm showing my dear DH!!!haha.*Laura would be proud!!!*McKenna's toys are all over the place,Time to invest in containers instead of just the toy box & coffee table.

Kris said...

I'm loving this! We have a similar bookcase upstairs with fabric bins, but they are looking a bit worn. I might need to go basket shopping! We also need the shelves downstairs, too, Right now, it's a hodge-podge! Thanks for the ideas!

Amber said...

I've been meaning to tell you, I love this idea!!!

0:) Amber