Do you ever feel like toys somehow multiply at night while you are sleeping? It seems I go to bed and wake up, and there are more of them than the day before! How does that happen!? When it comes to kids, this is probably the one area that is the most difficult to keep clean and organized. Having three kids of my own, I know this is true!
Believe it or not, it is possible to organize toys and keep them cleaned up and under control!! I actually have one secret tip for staying on top of this task:
Clean and organize toys once every 3 – 4 months to keep them under control.
The manner in which you clean and organize is the same. However, if you do it a few times a year, it is a little simpler as they haven’t had as long of a time to get messy, lost, and in disarray. I highly recommend you do this a few weeks before those events where the kids will get new toys, such as birthdays and holidays.
That is why organizing toys in October makes perfect sense! You can clean them up before you get ready to shop for Christmas or Hanukkah and know what your kids need (or what your house has room for them to get).
When I get ready to clean my kid’s toy areas, I make sure I walk in with all of my supplies in hand:
- Trash bag(s)
- Cleaning supplies (rags and spray)
If you are a checklist type of person, then you will want to use our form as well. You can download this and all of our other organization checklists (the free offer has now expired).
HOW TO ORGANIZE KIDS’ TOYS
Clean the room
The first thing I do before I start to organize toys is to clean up the room and put it all away. Now, that may sound strange, but this gives you a clean work area on the floor so that you can start working.
Gather your supplies
Next, get the supplies you will need, such as boxes and trash bags. I label one box donate, and then have a trash bag. If you plan on rotating toys, get one final box to place some of the toys to be put away for now and pulled back out again later.
Determine where to start
Next, pick one corner of the room. You will start here. As you tackle each section, you will work your way clockwise around the room until you are back at the beginning where you started.
Remove everything from that small area in the corner. Dust and vacuum the clean space. Now, as you get ready to set things back in an orderly manner, look at each item. Determine whether it should be KEEP, DONATE, or TRASH.
Not sure what to do with each item? This flowchart can help you figure out what you should do with it.
Click here to download Toy Question Flow Chart
As you look at each toy, ask these questions:
- Is the toy age appropriate? Have they gotten too old or outgrown the toy? If so, consider donating it or even boxing up to keep for younger children.
- Is it broken or missing pieces? If there is a piece missing, set it aside, as you might find it while you are cleaning. If you are unable to find missing parts or it is broken, throw it away. If it needs small repairs or new batteries, put it aside to address once you finish cleaning.
- Is it important to your child? If it is a toy that is special to your child, make sure you keep it. If you are not sure, just set it into a box or bag and set aside for six months. If they do not ask for it for that period, then it may not be as important to them as initially thought, and you can then donate it.
- Do they play with it? If you are not sure, box them up and consider storing them for up to six months. If they do not ask for it during that time, then you can donate it. If you know for sure they no longer play with something, go ahead and donate it.
- Is it a duplicate? Sometimes, kids have more than one of the same toy. Consider keeping only the item that is in better shape and either donate or throw away the other one.
As you look at the item, you can go through the flowchart to decide if you keep, toss, or donate the item. If donating or trash, put those items into the box or bag. If you are keeping the toy, set it aside to be put back once you have gone through everything.
Work around the room and go through all items on shelves, in bins, bags, boxes, etc. It will take a while,e and you will end up with a VERY large pile of toys you are keeping. You may also end up filling multiple bags or boxes with items that are trash or to donate.
If you are in doubt, some of the items we trash include:
- Toys from meals or doctor’s offices
- Broken pieces
- Stickers (that are not sticky)
- Toys that can’t be repaired
It may also be nerve-wracking to get rid of a toy. It seems when you do, that is when your child suddenly MUST have it. Put these items into a box and store them for up to six months. Then, if after that time, your child has not asked for the toy, he or she has probably forgotten about it, and it is time for you to go ahead and give it away.
Put everything back
Now that you have all of the trash and items to donate out of the room, it is time to put everything away. As you do so, you might consider how your kids play. Put the “play house” items together.
Keep your kitchen toys and your car items together. By keeping them organized in the room, it can cause less of a mess when your child decides to play.
As you find the small items such as the little cars, army men, LEGOs, etc., there are some options out there. You can purchase organizing stations, such as this one:
You can also use lidded containers, such as these, and place them on shelves:
We use open bins to keep our kid’s toys stored, and it works great as it is easy for them to pick up at night before they go to bed:
Other ideas for storing toys include:
- Oatmeal containers
- Coffee containers
- Metal Cans
- Metal Tins
- Plastic Bins
- Open shelving
- Baby Wipe containers
- ….. and more!
Look around your house to see what you might be able to recycle to use to store your kid’s toys. When you put them into storage containers, try to group like items together. Farm animals and trucks in one. Card games could be in another. Place coloring books and crayons in yet another bin.
This way, it is only ONE bin, container, or tub used during playtime. That makes clean-up much easier.
Show the kids
Once everything is organized, give your kids a tour of their toys. Show them where they can find what it is they want. They may end up playing with those items that they have not touched in a year.
Use this as a way to help them learn how to put things back when they are done playing with them. They are never too young to learn how to clean up after themselves. When everything is organized, it can make it easier for both you and your kid(s) to keep it all clean!