Organizing Toys and Games

Your challenge this week is organizing toys and games in your childrens’ rooms, and around the house, so your kids can actually find and play with their toys, and you don’t trip over anything anymore.

Organizing Toys and Games

For the past couple of weeks we’ve been working on all the areas of our kids’ rooms, starting with the closets, and then focusing on their bedrooms.

This week we’re finishing the focus on our children’s stuff, at least for a while, by focusing on the area that generally gives most parents (including me) the most trouble — toys, stuffed animals, games, puzzles, and other stuff we have for our kids to amuse themselves with.

The steps for this week should be done with your children, if they’re old enough to participate. They deserve to have their opinions listened to and considered in the process of decluttering and organizing their toys, although you, as a parent, also have quite a large stake in the process.

Are you new here? This challenge about how to organize toys and games is part of the 52 Week Home Organization Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren’t already a regular reader).

Step 1: Declutter The Toys & Games In Your Home

Before you can begin to organize toys and games in your home you’ve got to get rid of all the stuff your children don’t even play with, or the extra things that are taking up so much room they don’t even have space to spread out and play.

You must involve your children in the decluttering step, because otherwise there will be potential mutiny, and also because their feelings will get very hurt. You wouldn’t like it if someone came in and started throwing away your stuff without consulting you first, and letting you take part in the process, so don’t do that to your kids.

Prime examples of toys that should be decluttered include:

  • Toys or games that the children have outgrown
  • Broken toys, or those missing their essential parts
  • Items your kids never play with, or just don’t like

Not All Toys Should Be Donated: Don’t Donate Junk

When we begin this important first step in the Organizing Toys and Games Challenge don’t just put everything you declutter into the donate box. Only donate good stuff, that others would use, not junk. You should also arm yourself with a good old fashioned garbage bag to throw some things away.

A good rule of thumb is to think, would you hand this to a child to play with without embarrassment or concern? If not, toss it. For example, if the toy is broken, missing parts or pieces, extremely dirty, etc. don’t donate it. Just throw it away.

Tips For Helping Reluctant Children Part With Some Toys

We all know how it feels to have to part with our stuff sometimes, and kids feel the same way from time to time. If, during the process of decluttering you meet some resistance, reluctance, or anxiety about decluttering their toys here are some strategies you can use to help your kids through the process:

  • Discuss the benefits of decluttering, such as more room to play with their most special toys
  • Have them help choose where the toys will be donated, and perhaps let them go with you to see who will receive them
  • Let them make certain choices so they retain some control, such as saying “yes, you can keep whatever you want that fits within this certain space,” or “no, you don’t have to give away all of this type of toy, you can choose the three most special ones to keep,” etc.

These strategies listed above are some that have worked with my kids in the past, but I know there have got to be more of them. Please share your ideas and strategies below, in the comments, to give everyone even more good ideas for helping our kids learn the process of decluttering without anxiety.

Make A Habit Of Getting Rid Of Excess Toys

This is the perfect time of year to do a big toy declutter, since Christmas is fast approaching, and that means a new influx of stuff may be coming into your home soon.

You may want to make a rule of “one in, one out” for toys, to keep things from piling back up in your home and being overrun with toys again in the future. If you make a habit of getting rid of excess toys as you go along your child will not be as concerned about parting with them either, because it becomes a regular event. Plus it helps teach them how to organize toys and other items in their home, which is an important life skill.

Step 2: Organize Toys That You’re Keeping Into Categories

One of the best ways to organize toys is by category or type. For example, all the legos together, the action figures in their own storage container, and the toy cars in another.

Similarly, certain toys go together in a set. Those with many small detachable parts and pieces should all be together, preferably in a container that keeps anything from getting lost. In addition, there are certain toys that are almost always played with together, such as dolls and their doll clothes. Keep these types of items together when you organize toys.

Step 3: Designate A Home For All Toys Throughout The House

kids' storage boxes
Cube storage boxes for kids

Toys can be kept in your kids’ bedrooms, but other places in your home may also have some toys, especially the family room and/or playroom. In every area of your home where you plan to keep some toys make sure there is a designated area for all toys that should be kept there.

The best way to ensure that your kids can and will put away their toys is to create a place for every single toy to be stored when it is not in use. Look at the categories of toys you’ve kept and designate specific spaces to put these toys. If the space you’ve designated can’t hold them all do another round of decluttering until all the toys you’re keeping fit into the space selected for them.

This one step, of making a designated place for each toy kept, is the single most important one in how to organize toys and games in your home.

In addition, if you keep toys in multiple areas of your home (which my family does) you can expect, with time, some “toy migration.” It is best to anticipate that kids will bring one toy from their room, into the living room to play sometimes, for example.

I suggest using a couple of temporary storage holders, such as a small laundry baskets, to place these migratory toys in while you’re tidying up. Then, you or your child can, every couple of days, empty the temporary storage holders and place these toys back in their rightful spots in their designated areas.

Step 4: Choose Kid Friendly Toy Storage Solutions

stuffed animal net
Stuffed animal nets keep toys off the floor

When doing steps 2 and 3, categorizing the toys and games and finding designated spaces for them within your home, make sure you use kid friendly toy storage solutions.

The most important thing to consider when choosing kids’ toy storage is to make sure the storage containers not only make it easy for your child to get their toys out, but more importantly for your sanity, that it is easy for them to put the toys back away when they’re done. Here are some examples of toy storage solutions that meet this criteria:

  • Toy chests (ideal for a couple large items, not lots of small stuff)
  • Stuffed animal nets, such as the one on the right above (great for getting stuffed animals off the bed and floor)
  • Stackable plastic storage containers, with lids (ideal for items with small parts that you don’t want easily lost)
  • Wicker baskets with canvas inserts (no lids) (good on shelves to hold small collections or categories of certain toys, and easily moved from room to room)
  • Storage benches (can double as seating or a low game table, along with storage)
  • Shelves (typically with small storage containers on them for easy sorting and containerizing)
  • Cubbies (lots of small shelves or areas to separate toys into categories)
  • Floor level open storage tubs or containers (for large toys, similar to toy chests but the fact that they don’t have lids makes them easier for small kids to get toys in and out)

Please tell me in the comments below what additional types of toy storage solutions you like to use in your home, and why, to give everyone even more ideas.

Tell Me How The Organizing Toys And Games Challenge Is Going For You

I would love to know how this week’s challenge about decluttering and organizing toys and games is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you’ve organized this area of your home below in the comments.

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