Need Help with an Organizational Unit for My Kids' Toys

Updated on December 14, 2009
C.W. asks from Lutherville Timonium, MD
6 answers

Okay, I'll be the first to admit that I stink at organization. Always have. We live in our living room. It is where the kids play, but the toys are taking over. We have tried several things. We have large tubs now, but the toys get dumped in there, and then any small pieces are lost and the kids never can seem to get into the tubs to find their toys. A large cabinet in the dining room is a problem because they can't seem to reach or find what's on the top shelf. What do you have that organizes the toys so they can find them and assist in putting them away? What do you do with the large toys (aka the car garage, doll house, barbie camper) that seem to get tripped over?

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answers from Washington DC on

We have two of these, and they are fantastic. My daughter wasn't really playing with her toys while they were in large tubs, then we got this and she plays with her toys b/c she can see them now. Also, helps make clean up time much easier.

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answers from Washington DC on

Let's see, we have those large plastic shelving units that are really made for garages and workrooms that you can buy at Walmart for about $10.00 for all of the large toys that sit or stack nicely, like all their remote control vehicles, musical instruments, little people garage, pirate ship, etc. The tallest items go on the top shelf, since there is nothing for them to bump into. Then we have one large toy chest for everything that can easily be thrown in. Then we have a large 3 drawer plastic unit (also from Wal-mart) for all the medium sized toys. Top drawer for younger son's toys, middle drawer for older son's toys, and bottom for flat items, like puzzles, and story reader stuff. Then we have a cloth bin storage unit, 9 bins total, for all the little stuff. Each bin has a theme, ex. star wars action figures, super hero action figures, little people, dinosaurs, happy meal toys, etc. We have a cloth pocketed book shelf that all the books can easily be slid into (easier for younger clean-up than a traditional book case). We have a cardboard 'mailbox' unit (like the kind you see in schools and offices) mounted on a shelf on the wall, for all my older son's school supplies, markers, crayons, and expensive toys that the little one shouldn't touch, for fear of him breaking, as well as some of the smaller board games. We have a low stacking closet shelving unit, that holds all the board games (bought at K-mart), and we have two large wire shelves mounted high on the wall for all the stuffed animals. So, no one organizational unit for us. It takes a lot of units, but they are cheap individually (none of them cost over $15), and they make clean up sooooooo much easier now that everything has a home. Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

One word....IKEA!!! They have everything you need! I love Billy bookcases...I bought the shorter ones and added doors (Billy Byom) so I can tuck everything away when we're done playing. I use canvas boxes from Target (I think they're by closetmade) to put all little toys in and the bigger toys fit on the shelves. Someone else mentioned Expedit from Ikea...I like those too and the canvas boxes fit in those shelves too. As far as big toys....they stay in my basement and we play with them when we go down there...haven't figure out a solution to that, so I'll be checking in on your responses for how to hide them.

Good luck!!!



answers from Washington DC on

We use the first poster's walmart link toy organizer for the toys in the nursery at our church and it works great - the kids can see what they need and are able to put their stuff away on their own. As for my living room, I don't like to leave stuff out in the open because I usually like it to also look adult-friendly when I have company over, so I have some rolly wicker ottomans ( that can house things, and little shelves/cabinets that can also store things, but match the decor. We have 3 in our living room and they are different sizes and look nice...we keep movies, video games, etc in them....but toys would work too - plus, they are very mobile with the wheels, so your little one can push it around....Storage ottomans are awesome ( - so functional for storing things, but looking nice and serving multiple functions also - we use our for trays for drinks, blankets, to put our feet up, use as extra seating, etc...Also - IKEA has some great deals on storage containers that look sleek and can even get a simple, low bookshelf and add some baskets to the cubbies and throw toys in the baskets. Or get a bookshelf like this for the baskets, and add adult things to the top and kids stuff on the bottom....
As for the larger items, you can always put stuff in closets and behind asian screens - have a designated corner and just stick all the big stuff behind them - there are some really pretty ones that can fit any style/decor/color...
I also think can hang things from the wall/ceiling, etc - in the garage, laundry room, etc.
Good luck!



answers from Washington DC on

The most valuable things I have are clear shoe boxes that I found at the Container Store. You can buy a set of like 20 for a relatively good price. The are semi-clear so you can see in them and they stack. You could label them although I have never gotten around to that.

I also collect and use toiletry type bags - I have some plastic-y ones - not plastic like something that could suffocate but little zippered plastic-y/nylon? bags. I also save the zipper or velcro bags you can buy sheets and curtains in.

I also use Ziploc plastic containers (like for food storage) of different sizes - you can get really little ones for little sets of things. I avoid plastic or Ziploc bags because they aren't safe.

I do have a pottery barn unit where I store all this stuff so the kids can see what they want. But you could also use a shelving unit or stack on the floor.

Finally, I have a BIG basket for oddly shaped largetr items and a small toy trunk for dress-up clothes. Once the small stuff is picked up, there is an amazing amount of floor space for playing and larger items.

You prbably need to plan a day (probably by yourself!) to sort and organize and sneak some junk into a trash bag. Then it is all about follow-thru and teaching your kids to only keep one or two toys out at a time. With all this, I still feel like my playroom is always a mess, but it is a great start and when you do clean, it is easier and quicker if everything has a home.



answers from Washington DC on

Your house sounds a lot like mine did until about 3 weeks ago , when we just had enough of the chaos and nothing being organised at all! , so what we did was went to Target , bought LOT'S of storage boxes (see through with clip lock lids) in many different sizes , then we organised the toys into 'kid friendly' groups so even they are able to tidy up and put away after themselves. Our boxes are labelled.....Dressing up , Animals , Music , Wheels , soft toys. The first 2 are self explanatory , the others are anything music related (mainly instruments for us) and anything that has wheels (trains , cars etc). Then we have an art box , so paper , scissors , glue , pens (you get the picture) goes in that one , I have to say it is working very well , they enjoy putting the stuff away and it is just easier in general to keep the house tidy and not so cluttered , it seemed like before we had stuff everywhere & no real place for any of it to go.

Hope this helps


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