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How to Organize Toys and Cut Out the Clutter

If you have kids in the house, it’s pretty much a given that you are faced with the chaos of overflowing toys. I have two kids and kids like toys. Toys tend to get scattered everywhere. But don’t get me wrong, I love toys and I don’t ever want the kind of house that isn’t “lived’ in. I want my kids to play and develop their imaginations instead of zoning out on iPads all the time. But what can you do about the Mt Everest of toys in your house that seems to double in size every holiday and birthday? Over the years, I have found a few ideas for how to organize toys and keep your house from looking like the toy aisle at Christmas.

Helpful Ideas for How to Organize Toys

“Keep or Get Rid Of”

One of the most valuable things I do with my kiddos a few times a year is “keep or get rid of”. We’ve been doing this for years – ever since my oldest was about 2.

I don’t know about you, but my kids love having a “job” and feeling like they are making decisions and contributing. I find it’s much easier for them to part with things when they feel like they are in control.

Now, I’ve also gone the route of doing this while they are at school if I know it’s something they haven’t played with in forever and won’t miss. Many, many things have found their way to the donation pile without them even knowing.

But – when they are little, toys multiply like mosquitos in standing water. Kids toys are fun and I’m not saying to deprive them of it all and trash it or donate it if they haven’t touched it in a few days.

However, it gets overwhelming and I personally don’t like to look around and see “stuff” everywhere. Get your kids in on the action.

Start with a small area – maybe books first, then a toy bin, and when they are older, you can get all crazy and have them help you do “keep or get rid of” in the whole playroom or their own room.

I find that one of the best times to do this is before birthdays or Christmas. Even small kids get excited and want to make room for new toys.

And of course, I do understand that there will be things you want to save for later, especially if you have multiple kids. But, you don’t have to keep everything. The smaller ones will get their own piles of toys for birthdays and such.

This is also a great way to make some cash. I let mine choose things sometimes and we either sell it at a yard sale or on online yard sales. They are especially motivated if they know they can add to their piggy banks by getting rid of unused toys!

Storage Organizers

Life savers in my opinion. Whether it’s a cube storage thing or open bins, it doesn’t matter. Having a designated “home” for things is amazing. For years, we’ve had a storage organizer like this one :

Red, yellow, and blue toy organization bins in a wooden storage system.

When my son was small and the only child, we used this organizer for all the little things that seem to multiply – train sets, cars, balls, you name it. It’s currently housing Legos. It was much easier for him to find things to play with and then also help clean up.

And that’s an important point – kids can help clean up. Find a fun clean-up song and sing it at night. Mine learned one at preschool – “clean up, clean up, everybody do your part”. Sounds silly, but it helped. And if there’s one less Lego or doll you have to pick up at night, it’s worth it!

These cube organizers can work wonders! Add some colorful bins or keep it neutral if you prefer. These can work as part of your decor if needed – the options are endless.

Cube storage shelves on a white background.
Green cube storage totes on a white background.

Bookshelves and Bins

It doesn’t have to be fancy or built in or anything crazy expensive. I found some plain white shelves similar to this one:

A tall white shelve with sparse decor.

Or for a more industrial look, check out Parthenia 69" Etagere Bookcase” target=”_blank” rel=”nofollow noopener”> this one – it’s on the pricier side but it’s 69″ tall and I can definitely see using this as part of my decor when the toys no longer fill it.

Wood and metal industrial bookcase on a white background.

And this one below is under $40!!!

Wood and metal shelves on a white background.

Find some fun storage bins and load it up. I bought some inexpensive bright-colored bins years ago and we still use them. My daughter has one for barbies, one for princess trinkets and dolls, crayons, and so on.

One thing to note though, if you have smaller kids, I would brace these shelves to the wall. Kids tend to grab and reach up to the higher shelves –  you don’t want these falling over on someone. Most of them come with a handy little brace kit already, but if not, you can find them at any hardware store.

Furniture that Doubles as Storage

Even if you have a designated playroom in your house, chances are that toys will migrate around the house. And again, I don’t want to squash their creativity and go all Mommie Dearest on them.

But, if you have a few key pieces that can double as storage, it makes your life so much more pleasant. When you get kids in bed and get a moment of TV to yourself at night, it’s nice to look around a clean living room that’s not overflowing with toys.

We have this apothecary cabinet from Target and sadly it seems it’s not available anymore. It houses Shopkins and Shopkin accessories (if you have a little girl, you know the madness that is Shopkins!). And my son has one drawer of Lego creations. They get the insides and I get to decorate the top! Win win!

Furniture that doubles as storage apothecary cabinet.

I found several other options that would be perfect for living room toy storage – Click on the pics for details:

Emilee 3 Drawer Overlay Accent Chest” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Cream-colored wooden chest of drawers.

Oridatown 2 Door Accent Cabinet” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>Small wooden accent cabinet on a white background.

Oversized Baskets

Not only are these pretty, but they are super functional too. Keep one in the living room to corral the larger items or sets of toys. When my son’s train tracks and train cars outgrew the little plastic bins in the organizer, we switched to a large basket. Perfect clean up too – he knew exactly where the trains were when he wanted to play.

And total random – when he was small, we found a massive set of Thomas the Train items on the online Facebook yard sale for $40. Sounds like a lot for toys, but if you’ve priced train sets, you know it was a steal.

I can’t even tell you how many hours of enjoyment came from those tracks. It was a sad day for me when he put those in the “get rid of” pile. But the good news is, we sold them online for $40. Total investment for years of enjoyment – $0. Winner winner chicken dinner.

I use a large basket in the playroom to corral my daughter’s American Girl/Our Generation stuff – clothes, accessories, dolls – they all go in the basket when she’s done playing.

Here’s some of my faves for under $30!  I find if you invest in a little better quality, it can handle the abuse of toys/kids for several years. And when they outgrow it, it can be yours to corral your own stuff! Click on any of the pics for details.

White and gray ombre cloth toy storage basket.

How cute is this one??

Gray fabric toy storage basket with toys inside.
Large white cloth storage tote on a white background.

That’s just a few options to help you control the clutter and figure out how to organize toys! Of course, it helps to do some purging when little eyes aren’t looking, but get them involved too. Let them sort bins, put away little pieces, and help teach them early to stay organized. You’ll appreciate the help and any help for busy families is a win in my book!

An image graphic with a black dog paw print and the words \"With happy thoughts, Melissa\".


Lijo Decor

Tuesday 6th of March 2018

Amazing tips for organizing toys!! Loved the way you have explained them with pictures! Helpful indeed. Thanks for sharing!!


Thursday 8th of March 2018

Thanks so much!