Tag Archives: toy storage

Organizing Kid’s Toys

Keeping Thomas and Lucy’s toys contained in a house with no play room takes constant organizing. Space constraints aside, having proper toy storage is always a challenge, because we always seem to bring more play things home. As our kids age out of what they used to play with and get into something new, we need to purge and box old toys up, so our systems don’t get overwhelmed.

A few things have worked pretty well for me, and although it is an ongoing battle, we have mostly managed to keep the house from feeling overloaded with toys. Here are a few tips!

With Thomas’s birthday this weekend, and Christmas quickly approaching, I always do a pre-party purge of his room, assessing what he doesn’t favor anymore. I’ll tuck those things away, usually while he is at school, and save them for a rainy day. This makes room for all of the new stuff. Keep this idea in mind, before new toys enter the house, and you are one step ahead of the game.

Keep a storage tub or two, of less frequently played with toys that your child is still likes,  in the basement or a closet. When they want to play with some of them, swap them out with something currently in their room, like a little borrowing system. We have done this with Thomas’s train set, toy dinosaurs and some other toys that he is still interested in, but doesn’t need to have out all of the time. If he wants to play with them, he gives up something else for a little while, until he is ready to put the older toys away again. Or, simply create a regular toy rotation every couple of months, so that old toys seem new, and perhaps they’ll tire of things less quickly.

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For babies, keep just one basket of toys in your main play area. While young babies do like bright, talking toys, they mostly want to explore their environments. They don’t need a ton of complicated play things. When I took a few minutes to observe which toys Lucy, my nine-month-old, was actually interested in, it was far fewer than what I had on hand. While I plan to keep a few extras to switch things out every so often, I was able to let go of quite a few toys. Babies change so quickly anyways, there is just no good reason to have lots of toys for one particular age.

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Store toys where the kids can see and reach them. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, clear shoe boxes are the best. Of course, they don’t fit larger toys, but you might be surprised just how much you can fit into those little bins. I love that they are stackable and not so big, that they become heavy for kids to lift. We use them for LEGO bricks, play food, Thomas’s tool set, and many other items. Zippered mesh bags are good for larger sets of toys too. They can fit more than what a shoe box can hold, but you can still see what’s inside.

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I converted Thomas’s closet into a music “studio”. He loves going in there and making tunes.

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Create zones within a room. In Thomas’s small bedroom, we have several different areas to keep specific types of things. I promise I am not militant about the lines between these zones, but it totally helps when it is time to put toys away or when we are searching for something. His zones are as follows: musical instruments, LEGO, games, books, miscellaneous toys and CD’s and records. This principle is a classic organizing trick which can be applied to every single room of the house.

DIY: Under-bed LEGO Table

Living in a 1920’s house has its charms and drawbacks. Storage space is tight, and rooms are small. I have two small children, and as you might know, they come with lots of stuff, and more specifically, lots of LEGO. My basement is mostly unfinished and therefore, I have no dedicated play room. My oldest is very nearly five years old and my youngest is eight months old. LEGO and babies don’t mix. So, the house rule is that LEGO bricks stay in Thomas’ bedroom.

Since Thomas’s bedroom is pretty tiny and floor space is limited, I needed to come up with a solution that could, quite literally make the LEGO bricks disappear at night. My theory is that creating a dedicated play area for these tiny pieces, makes their migration into common areas of the house a little less likely.

The under-bed space is largely underutilized as storage in general, and Thomas’ room is no exception. Since most LEGO play time happens on the floor anyway, I had it in my mind to create some type of surface that could slide under the bed at night. This is what I came up with.

Using a scrap piece of Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF), I had on hand, I crafted a rolling LEGO table. It was pretty simple to make, and you could make this piece just about any size you want. It took four easy steps.

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  1. Screw in four swivel casters with brakes. I used casters with brakes so the table won’t slide away from Thomas as he is playing on it. The only down side to this is that they are a bit tricky, so I have to help him set and unlock the brakes.IMG_0756
  2. Use a miter box to cut trim for the edges of the table. The last thing you want is for the LEGO creations to go careening off the side of the table when you push it under the bed at night. Meltdowns will ensue… I used a 1″ square cedar trim from Home Depot, but almost any type of decorative trim or quarter-round would work.
  3. Adhere the trim to the table. I used Gorilla Glue with clamps, then secured the trim with finishing nails.photo (17)
  4. Paint it. I used two coats of Behr’s Ultra White primer and paint in one. Of course, I had help, I’d be nowhere without my little shop assistant! If you wanted to, you could paint some streets on the surface, or glue down a few of those green LEGO building plates. We are not quite so sophisticated yet.IMG_0799

Done! The only challenge left was getting it to fit under the bed. Thomas’s bed is low to the ground, so I spray painted a set of bed risers that were collecting dust in the basement. We effectively gained a few more inches to accommodate those taller LEGO structures.

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I know that the LEGO obsession is likely going to last at least another nine or ten years, if not more, according to my teenage nephews. In that time, we may very well move to a different home with more room to set up for hobbies and play,  but this solution is working just beautifully for now.

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