Organizing the Toys. Oh My!


They’re like rabbits.

They multiply when you’re not looking. And then those multiply. Next thing you know…

They’re EVERYWHERE. *Insert creepy music from Psycho here.*

(Switch to happy, peaceful music. Think: “The hills are alive or something…”)

It doesn’t have to be that way! Roll up your sleeves and get creative. Organize, organize, organize. Purge, purge, purge.

But the best thing that has ever helped us, ever, is..

CONTAINERIZING. Into individual toygroups.

Little, happy communes of Barbies, Ponies, and baby dolls.

Last December, during “The Elephant Project,” the girls’ toys got containerized. We grouped each into an appropriate box or bucket and gave every single little thing a place to go. Recently, after I reorganized the school area and removed a bookcase, I reorganized some and used the bookshelf to create some vertical storage in their oh-so-tiny bedroom.

The result? Everything now has a place to go, they know where it goes, and it’s actually easier for them to put their own things away. Even if they destroy their room completely (which they still do on an all too frequent basis) – it’s not too difficult to restore order.

For example:

In December, three other ladies and I spent the better part of a day cleaning and organizing their room.

Today (their room was no less worse than it was in December), it took the girls and I about an hour and a half. Maybe two.

And that’s with the three kids’ awake and underfoot.

And that means something.

So here’s what we already had as of December:

The two small striped storage containers hold ALL the Barbie stuff: the dolls, the clothes, the shoes, the accessories, the wedding set, the animals… everything except the horse and wedding carriage which are too large. The large striped container contains all the dress up dresses, shawls, and wings (and it can hold an AMAZING amount of dresses and such squooshed in there!)

This toybox holds all the dolls, doll things, and doll clothes (and if there is anything miscellaneous like a toy camera, that goes in there too.) The yellow hanging Ikea organizer is for the stuffed animals. It seems there are some missing. I bet they’re in the little boys’ room; we haven’t cleaned that one yet.

And here’s what we’ve added this month:

I added the bookcase to hold the play vanity (which had been on top of the white dressor,) the pink buckets (which had been tucked under the bed each half full of My Little Ponies — now one is full of ponies and the other is full of all the dress up accessories, which had been in white baskets under the tv,) the baby doll carriers (which were also tucked under the bed) and the barbie carriage and pony (which were also, yup, tucked under the bed.) Now it’s all in one place and easy to get to and I even freed up two white baskets. Yay!

Also, check out the inside of the fridge!

Everything related to food and grocery shopping is store INSIDE the fridge. They can pull it out, play with it and put it all back very easily.

Having all these homes for different toys has really helped my girls with learning how to take care of their own space. I’m working on something similar for Little Prince’s room, but it’s not finished yet. Hopefully soon!

NOW… there’s one more thing that really helps with the MESS.

We try really hard to emphasize and remind them to put one group of toys away before pulling out another. When they do (and when we pay attention and remind them to do it) it really works! But when they don’t, well, it turns into a disaster pretty quick.

But having a place for it all to go is the first step.

Working on the habits… well, that takes times but it’s a whole lot easier to work on those with a system they are able to maintain.

And that’s the truth.

Kids’ toys was our assignment for June’s Organizing Round-Up hosted by Laura, the Organizing Junkie. Sadly, I forgot to take before pictures. But it looked a lot like this (taken when I cleaned up their room and worked on their closets for last month’s challenge)… …and even a little worse. When it was clean, it looked like just like it did in the “Elephant Tackle” pictures. Find out more about the Organizing Round-Up here, and see more Round-Up posts here. Thanks Laura!

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mrs darling
mrs darling
July 2, 2008 9:01 am

I do think they breed! Peter doesnt playwith half of his but when I try to get rid of them he cries about how he loves them. Im having a garage sale. I just have to let some of them go.

Nice organization!

July 2, 2008 9:15 am

That looks great! You put in a lot of work and it’s paid off. And I agree, when I can get my kids to put one thing away before getting out another it saves a ton on the clean-up. That doesn’t always happen though.

July 2, 2008 11:46 am

Mrs. Darling – They DO breed! 🙂 My kids complain, too, but if they want to continue to get more stuff for birthdays and christmas then they just have to deal with it. We purged a TON in December and since I arranged a big family gift of a trampoline, I avoided adding a lot of toys for their birthdays too. 🙂

Nicole – Thanks! We struggle with being consistent about putting things away, too, but we’re working on it!

Jill Scott
Jill Scott
July 4, 2008 11:42 pm

I love your pink scalloped containers. They’re so pretty, and I love the idea of putting the groceries in the fridge. Great thinking.

Jack's Mommy
Jack's Mommy
July 5, 2008 1:20 am

excellent! i love the photos too! …the biggest thing I’ve learned in organization is things definitely “need a home”. Clean up is a breeze when you know where something belongs…it’s when things don’t have a set home that clutter starts multiplying and cleaning becomes a mental burden. The second biggest thing I’ve learned is that organization should be “pretty”…just because no one else may see it, doesn’t mean it should be ugly…pretty striped boxes, neat shelves, colorful bins, etc, make storing things more fun..mentally…

at least for me it does anyway! 😀

July 10, 2008 7:37 am

I love having toys in bins with like toys! I have to tackle my girls’ room this week so I may take some of your suggestions. I love the idea of a nice decorative box for dress up-right now it is in a clear Rubbermaid thing and looks awful!!!

I will be posting before and after of the girls’ room when I FINALLY get around to doing it but I have our playroom up if you want to take a look.

July 9, 2008 3:39 pm

That is so smart to store the food toys inside the fridge – I never thought of doing that, but it makes so much sense!

July 9, 2008 2:32 pm

WOW – I’m loving that idea for dress up clothes. I haven’t been able to figure out WHAT to do and they are definitely multiplying in my house. Thanks for the tips!

Org Junkie
Org Junkie
July 13, 2008 3:48 pm

Great containerizing (isn’t that just the best word)! You know I’m loving the bins in the fridge…he he. The bookcase is a great addition.

Well done my friend!

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