I’ll start this post by saying we are so fortunate to have people who love our kiddo so much they want to buy her all the toys. Seriously, we know how lucky we are. We know that not all kids have this privilege and it is a privilege.
When the toys started rolling in after she was born, we thought how great it was that she was loved enough to get all these toys. As she grew, she needed new and different toys to match her learning so some we had to buy for her. At 6 months she needed a walker, at 9 months she needed toys to promote learning and that would engage her so I could get stuff done. By the time her first birthday rolled around, I asked people to please not get us gifts except for relatives, to whom we designated specific gifts.
The thing is, grandparents and others can’t help themselves. They love to see the joy on a child’s face as they receive a gift. It’s great, I swear, but if you have minimal space like we do your house can begin to look like Toys R Us. Yeah, that cute mid century feel you were going for goes out the window and is replaced by plastic eye soars that moo and sing “welcome to our learning farm we have lot’s to show you” every time you pass because you always forget to turn the darn thing off.
After her first birthday we said, “whelp, guess we have to make a play area.” Since it is in our living room, we wanted it to be cute and kid centric but also somewhat blend in to our decorating scheme (which is a little off-beat anyway).
Here are some toy storage tips from a mom who hates “stuff” :
Less is More
If I could, I would Marie Kondo my whole house. Kondo says to touch everything you own and if it doesn’t bring you joy, trash it. The thing is, if I had my kid touch everything she owns we would keep everything and the boxes, wrapping paper, and ribbons they came in. However, when kids have too much stuff, they end up not playing with much of it anyway. They will go from toy to toy or pick a few favorites that they use over and over.
Our first step was to get rid of baby toys that are still used sometimes but mostly, she has grown out of. Unless something is a staple, like wooden blocks, if I see it’s not being used we donate it or save it for a possible future baby.
Now, this can be tricky when it comes to relatives who come over your house. Seriously, how do they remember every single thing they have ever bought for our child? Little stuffed animals often end up as dog toys since the dogs don’t know the difference. As you can imagine, the graveyard of ripped up tiny stuffed animals laying in our dog bed was super awkward on the last visit with my in-laws.
I know, I know, once kids get their hands on their toys they are not going to stay in their rightful places…but we can try. Categorizing makes toys easier to find and also helps kids stick to one toy or activity at a time. Before we had our art area, it seemed to our 1 year old that anything in the play area was fair game to create art. While I love that she’s already exploring found objects in repertoire and obviously will totally be an abstract artist some day, for now toys are for playing and paper is for drawing. Creating an art space helped keep the crayons to paper and my kiddo occupied on one thing (for about 10 minutes).
3. Containing the Chaos
So how the heck does one keep things organized while looking cute, especially if your toy area is in your adult space? Toy boxes are great and there are some very cute and easy options out there. We recently packed up our toy box in favor of open containers. The toy box turned in to a dumping ground of toys that didn’t get used very often and served more as a place for our daughter to climb in to rather than a place to keep toys.
Here are some toy storage options I love:
Flisat toy storage with castors, IKEA $29
This is a great storage option because it looks clean but it’s a toy as well. It’s well loved in our home to store our toy cars and trains.
Raskog Utility shelf, IKEA $29.99
Another well-loved toy storage option in our home. It has open space so toys can be easily reached and is not so kid centric that it takes away from our living room decor. It is also great for categorizing toys.
3 Sprouts Storage Bin, Toys R Us $24.99
This storage bin comes with all different animals so you can choose your child’s favorite. It is easy to carry with handles on the side.
6 Cube Organizer Shelf, Target $34.99
This style shelf is very popular but with good reason. It makes toys easily accessible, you can use it as more than toy storage, and you can put baskets in it (like the one below) to hide toys if your space is mostly an adult space.
Jute Storage Bin, Amazon $18.95
Step-2 Room Organizer Bins, Amazon $66.39
Another great shelf option with bins. It helps organize and the kiddos can take out the bins they want to use so it helps keep them to one toy category at a time.
Nzuri Basket, The Citizenry $150
These are my favorite for hiding toys in an adult space! They are easily accessible for kids but when you have an adult night, they are simply pretty to look at no matter what is inside.