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Need help finding space for the new Christmas toys? Check out these tips from a professional organizer.

Project Organize Your ENTIRE Life: Principles of An Organized Playroom

Now that Christmas is over, the inevitable question lingers – what to do with all those new toys?  Never fear, our in-house professional organizer Annie has us covered with some pro tips and she’s here today to help us launch our month-long mission to make 2014 our best year yet. Here are her pearls of wisdom…

If you feel you’re in an ever-losing battle with your children’s games and toys, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. I’ve encountered few families who haven’t had some difficulty navigating the toy jungle.

Before we talk toy storage, I would be remiss if I didn’t call your attention to quantity. It is vastly important that the amount of toys and games your child has to play with is reasonable.

Not only does having a crazy amount of toys create chaos and intrude upon the likelihood that you or your children will be able to maintain order of them, it also overwhelms kids. They’re human, just like you and I. Their attention spans may be slightly less expansive, but they can still only do one thing at a time.

You can encourage healthy play, more effectively teach clean-up skills, and actually keep your kids more entertained if you limit the number of toys and games in the playroom. Figure out how many toys or games can reasonably fit within the space you’ve allotted, and put the excess in storage–preferably in clear, labeled bins.

You can give every toy and game a longer lifespan if you keep them on a rotation system; each time a toy is re-introduced into the mix, children will be utterly fascinated all over again.  See more on our ideas on how to set up said toy rotation system here.

I’ve found that a combination of shelves or cubbies and baskets or bins are ideal when it comes to organizing play items. That way, larger more sturdy items, such as board games or books, can sit or be stacked directly on the shelves, while smaller items, like doll clothing, wooden blocks, etc., can be collected into containers.

Board games are especially prone to loss of parts. Avoid this by teaching children to play with only one game at a time, and putting each away before pulling out another. You can also collect small game pieces in ziploc bags to avoid them falling out of the boxes.

Sort small play items in categories, and designate a bin or basket for each. Work with children to understand how to divide and recognize these groupings by implementing a kid-friendly labeling system. Depending upon your child’s developmental stage, label storage containers with either words, pictures, or even by a color system.

Very small pieces, such as legos, can be kept in plastic containers with lids, as can messier things like arts and crafts supplies.

Larger toys or play things belonging to larger collections (such as the dress-up collection seen below) can be stored in a chest, or large wheeled baskets.

Always use height as your determining factor when deciding where to place various toys and games. If you want kids to be able to reach books on their own, keep them on lower shelves. Games with small parts, art kits that you don’t want a little one spontaneously undertaking, and so on can be kept on higher shelves.

Hopefully these tips will have your child’s playroom looking neat and inviting!


More Helpful MPMK How-Tos from this month:

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P.S. Looking for more ways to simplify and connect with your family?


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Annie Traurig is a professional organizer and the founder of Live Simply. She works with clients locally in Seattle, as well as worldwide through virtual services, teaching them to expel the extraneous and instill their lives with lightness, laughter, and ease. She believes complication is avoidable, the clarity of priorities is freeing, aesthetics are paramount, and humor is the ultimate necessity.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin December 31, 2013 at 2:54 pm

Do you have suggestions (aside from expedit units) for not too pricey, wide-enough/deep enough shelving? Thx!!

Reply

Annie January 5, 2014 at 10:17 am

Hi Erin,
Land of Nod has a few great options, and their prices are pretty reasonable. Not sure what exactly you have in mind but something along these lines:
http://www.landofnod.com/storagepalooza/f4073
http://www.landofnod.com/compartment-department-bookcase-white/f10463
Worth checking into their offerings at least.
Though pricier, Pottery Barn is also generally a safe bet: http://www.potterybarnkids.com/shop/kids/storage/storage-bookcases/?cm_type=lnav
http://www.potterybarnkids.com/shop/kids/storage/storage-storage-wall-systems/?cm_type=lnav
Hope that helps!

Reply

stacey January 1, 2014 at 8:50 am

Erin, we took out the closet door (it’s a playroom, so the closet wasn’t being used) and reused some old book shelves from our neighbor. Found some inexpensive shelves at Target and stacked them up. My girls are 5 & 7 and it works great for storage!

Reply

Lynne January 31, 2014 at 6:56 pm

I have been dying to do this but we had a sort of domino effect of renovation work to do before we could touch the play room. Last weekend I went through and tossed stuff, boxed stuff, and organized everything else. It is amazing how the kids play with toys they haven’t looked at in months simply because everything is easily accessible and looks inviting!

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