Do your kids’ toys seem to get out of control almost as soon as you’re finished putting them away?
I’ve worked in pretty much every kid-friendly space you can imagine, helping parents tame toys and create systems that work for their children.
Below are my favourite toy storage tips and hacks that I’ve used to help transform play areas into well-organised and easy-to-clean-up spaces.
1. Keep like items together and create zones
Establish an area for all of the stuffed animals to live and call that the ‘zoo’. Perhaps attach two pieces of nicely painted wood horizontally in a corner of the room about two metres apart.
Run a few bungee cords from top to bottom and all of the animals can now live in the big cage.
Similarly, for lots of toy cars, build an entry ramp into a big box labelled garage and your kids can drive each of the toys in to park them for the night.
By creating obvious and fun zones – or homes – for like toys you can help your child learn basic organising skills.
2. Use bins to create storage units
Bins go everywhere in a kids’ toy room. If you have space for an extra bookcase then the bins can live nicely on the shelves there.
It’s important to label what goes in each bin (again keeping like items together).
Instead of using labels with words like ‘dolls’, snap a pic of your kid’s dolls and print that to stick to the outside of the bin. Or, even consider glueing a sample of the toys that live in that bin to the front of it.
Bins that can be stored underneath a bed have two great advantages.
Obviously, they’re a great place to store toys that are only rarely used. They are also useful if the area under the bed is filled with storage bins, then there’s less of a chance that the errant sock, book, or anything else will be lost in that no man’s land!
3. Colour-code the storage
If your child is having trouble putting things away then make it into a game – and let them make the rules.
Do they love cars? They go in the red basket. Lego goes in the green basket! Stuffed toys go in the purple basket and so on.
This way they’ll feel like they have some control over their space and cleaning isn’t just a chore their parents yell at them over and over.
4. Use available vertical space well
Laundry baskets can be attached with hooks to walls. They can easily be brought down for playtime, filled up when done, and then a parent can reattach them to the wall.
This is an easy way to create more storage space in a somewhat tight area.
5. Create new vertical storage space
Get creative with your storage and create new areas using ladders or shelving.
Paint it an exciting colour (as chosen by your child) and they’ll feel ownership over the space, which will encourage them to take responsibility for their toys.
6. Check out the back of your doors
There is a secret weapon when it comes to kids’ toy storage: the over-the-door shoe organising system.
Look for clear vinyl ones with plenty of pockets. They’re easy to keep clean and because they’re clear, you can easily find toys.
7. Spice up the bookshelf
Looking for a great place to store your child’s favourite books?
Install a spice rack at their eye-height and it’ll be like they have their own special reading nook! They’ll be able to pick their favourite books to display, too.
Take a quick scan in your kids’ play area and see how many doors you can fit a shoe-organiser on (main door, closet doors, etc.).
They’re fairly inexpensive and keep loads of things off the floor. They’re also great for small toys, dolls, craft items, blocks, dress-up accessories or anything else that your imagination can conjure.
See more: 9 ways to brighten a room on a budget
8. Make storage part of the game
If your kids love playing with their Lego blocks then why not create open shelving where the blocks can be played with and be put away in? Or put a roof on top of the shelf so it looks more like a house than a boring shelf that’s just used for cleaning.
By getting creative with your shelving you’re not only saving hours of clean-up time, but you’re also creating more places for your kids to play.
9. Conquer Lego once and for all
Grab an old bed sheet or oversized beach towel and sew a drawstring into the perimeter of it. Fill that up with all of the Lego or any other small toy items or blocks.
When your kids are finished playing just grab the string, pull it tight and everything’s out of the way. No more stepping barefoot on an odd-shaped piece of hard plastic.
10. Donate any unused toys
Another great life lesson to teach your kids is that it’s a really wonderful thing to donate toys they’ve outgrown or are no longer playing with.
It may be hard for your kids to let go of certain toys but bring them with you to the donation centre and let them chat with the people who work there.
Kids have big hearts. When they hear that there are lots of kids in the world who are not nearly as fortunate as they are, they’ll be happy to get rid of them. And, I promise you’ll feel incredibly proud.
11. Get a library card
Not only is your local library a great place to find all sorts of great new books that your child will love reading, it’s also a place that they can return them when they’re done.
How to get your kids organised
- Give them some responsibility – the more they feel cleaning is a chore the less they will want to do it.
- Label everything they need to get organised so it’s clear where everything lives.
- Give them a choice – don’t make them feel like there’s no option. If they get to choose between whether they want to put their toys away or clean their teeth first then at least they get to have some say.
- Put things at their eye level – there’s no point in putting everything in a wardrobe where they can’t access the toys they want.
- Let them help with organising where possible.