Thursday, July 25, 2013

Non-Traditional Advice for Storing Toys

It occurs to me that it has been far too long since I have shared a good ole organizing post with you all. And this is one that I need oh so badly with two children and roughly one million toys.

The problem is not so much the toys themselves. I love to see the kids playing and having fun being kids. But how to store it ALL? Because it's not one doll, but seven assorted baby dolls and American Girl friends plus a tiny high chair, cradle, stroller, and armoire, and nearly as many clothes as my child has. Plus dress-up costumes, Barbie dolls and their assorted homes and automobiles, My Little Ponies, Polly Pockets, a dollhouse, and more puzzles, games, and art supplies than you can shake a stick at. Of course, that's just one kid. And this is the reason that other posts about storing toys never seem to really get it for me.

So, my own take on the Rules for Creating Great Playrooms:

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1. You don't need a ton of space to create a great little spot for your kids to enjoy. 
In fact, I'm re-reading Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic The Secret Garden right now and it reminds me how much children love a spot they can claim as their very own. Find a little unused closet, nook, or corner of a room in your home and turn it over to their imaginations! Use shelves up the wall for assorted toy storage. A little bench or toy chest (possibly with even more storage space inside) topped by a cushion...and DONE! 

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You can make it fun like these parents did by adding a cute awning and some bins for easily grabbing and putting away smaller toys.

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Or completely go the other direction and disguise the toys by tucking them away behind doors and inside the drawers of a large piece like this one from Layla Grace

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Skirted ottomans can also be used to hide away toys when not in use and create an elegant look. Be sure to use a washable fabric if your kids are still very young.

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2. Baskets and trays are lifesavers when organizing.  
I don't know if you can have too many baskets and trays. Use a tray on your coffee table to create a styled tablescape that works for the way you live. Fill a beautiful bowl with Matchbox cars or puzzle pieces and stack it on top of a bunch of classic children's books instead of coffeetable books. Make a sculpture out of LEGO blocks. Have fun with the fact that you live with kids! Use baskets to hide away the toys that aren't as pretty to look at (but still so fun to play with).

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3. Create a place on the wall for the kids' artwork.  
By grouping it all together in a designated spot, it becomes a colorful gallery. You can also avoid having tape (or glue!) damaging your walls.

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4. Floor space.
Be sure to leave plenty of room for the kids to spread out on the floor to play trains or race cars or whatever. Don't forget yourself! Add someplace comfy for you to sit and observe or snuggle up with a good book.

Thoughts On How to Do the Great Toy Purge:
While most of what I have read suggests that parents should involve their kids in clearing out old toys, I think that might not be a step one project. For example, I'm going to be going through the mountains of toys in our house by myself. Before I take anything to the consignment store, I'll involve my kids to make sure they're okay with letting something go. But too early in the process and it'll just make everyone crazy and bring on the tears.

If you feel overwhelmed by all the stuff, use the 12-inch square method. This works pretty much as it sounds. Grab everything in a 12-inch area, decide whether to keep or not, and put it where it goes. I like to move around a room in a clockwise motion in order to stay on task.

Don't feel like you have to get rid of everything. Sure, it's nice to make donations or earn a few bucks, but it's also fine to hang on to perfectly good toys in case you have more children, want to pass them down to a younger cousin or friend, or even to show your grandchildren someday. And, yes, a minimalist just died somewhere...

9 comments:

  1. great ideas; and I LOVE the Layla Grace piece! Want to stain my dining room buffet that gray-white color. Thanks so much!

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    1. Great choice for the stain on your buffet! It's going to look very nice!

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  2. Oh man, I was terrible at this. The good news is, when they become teens the toys are really small. These are great tips.

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  3. Great advice Carrie -- I have a 9 and 11 year old who don't have many toys just lots of bracelet making crafts and sports equipment but I do have a three year old and I have gotten real lazy with the organizing of his toys... what I use now is a huge blue ikea bag that holds all of his "upstairs" toys because they tend to scatter all over on the first floor at the end of the day I take the bag clean up and place back in the first floor play room. not very stylish so I need to take some of your advice and incorporate more stylish storage.

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  4. I love everything you showed here, especially that adorable awning, and of course the Layla Grayce cabinet!
    Stacy

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  5. These suggestions are especially important to me right now, as I've moved into a smaller space and need desperately to cut down the appearance of clutter. A sincere weeding-out of the toys must take place as I unpack, and lots of organization will have to be applied before I can even think about decorating anything, it seems.

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    1. Good luck! I'll keep sharing tales from our journey. It is tough trying to fit all the toys into a smaller space.

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  6. Although it's been awhile since we had a playroom because the girls are older, I feel the same about playrooms as I do about teenage girls bedrooms - out of sight -out of mind. I enjoyed our playroom when it was in the basement than on the same floor when I had to clean it all the time. Our master is on the the first floor and the girls rooms are on the second floor. Life is good.

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Thanks so much for commenting! I love to read what you have to say. ~Carrie

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