The start of a new year – heck, a new season! – always has me itching to declutter and organize our house; post-Christmas, the first focus is most definitely the kids’ toys! We did some decluttering before the holidays in anticipation of new toys coming into the house, but there’s always more than we imagined and here I sit on New Year’s Day, preparing for another major purge and dreaming of all the organized awesomeness that could exist!
When I tackle my kids’ toys, I’m doing it with an aim to declutter, organize, donate, and consign (Did you know I also co-own a consignment sale business? It’s a great way to purge the toys and clothes each season!). These are some of my tried-and-true tips and tricks, along with a few new ideas I found on Pinterest that I’m planning to try this year!
I’d love to hear from you – what works best for organizing and controlling clutter in your kids’ rooms? What areas are you still struggling with? Help each other out in the comments – and be sure to check out my Pinterest board for more ideas! (Please note: some of the links to products are affiliate links , which means if you click through and purchase something, I might get a few cents towards keeping this site active. So, thank you!)
1. Plan your Piles
I like to start with three garbage bags and a bin when I tackle the kids’ toys.
One bag is just straight up for garbage. Broken pieces, cheap toys that came with fast food meals, the actual garbage I find (which, as the kids get older, is more and more, despite there being garbage cans in every room).
The second bag is a donate bag. This is for items that have lots of fun left in them, but aren’t going to be accepted at the consignment sale (generic stuffed teddy bears, cardboard puzzles, etc.). It’s also for items that I know I don’t want to take the time to prep for sale.
The third bag is for items I will come back to another day to clean and price for sale.
The bin is what’s allowed to stay. If it can’t fit in the bin, it needs to find a home in one of those bags.
2. Decide HOW big the bin can be. This changes depending on which room I’m tackling. In the kids’ bedrooms, there are small and medium sized bins that fit in their closets. The living room has been condensed to one section for puzzles and games, one bin each for the kids for toys, and one section for larger toys. In the basement, there’s a large toy bin, a small organizer, and some other areas for craft supplies, etc.
Now comes the really rewarding part – saying goodbye! So, how do we decide what goes in the bin?
3. Anything broken goes in the trash.
4. If it hasn’t been played with in the last month, find it a new home, either through donation or selling.
5. If it doesn’t fit in the bin, it needs to go. Sometimes this means finding a new space within our home (a large toy can stay in the basement or bedroom, but not the living room), but sometimes this means it gets added to the donate or consign piles.
6. A lot of folks, especially with little kids, will also incorporate a toy rotation at this stage. Separate your keep pile into two: half stays out now, the other half is tucked away. Every few weeks, swap a few of the ‘out’ toys for those in the stash. For older kids, you can make them part of this process. Decide on a toy limit: for example, there are a maximum of 20 toys allowed in a room at a time. If your child wants to play with something that’s away, they decide what toy to swap for it. (Full disclosure: I never mastered this one, expect for with books. I keep a seasonal rotation of story books. Other than that, I’ve been more of a purge and move on type.)
7. Looking for some more guidance on what to keep out? I really liked this break down from Chelsea Lee Smith of Moments a Day. She sorts her kids toys into four categories: toys for learning (science kits, books, etc.), toys for creating (LEGO, Play Doh, etc.), toys for imagining (cars, action figures, dolls, etc.), and toys for socializing (board games, puzzles, etc.). Make sure you have a small selection from each of these categories and your kids should be able to stay happy and entertained! A lot of folks are also using the Kon Mari Method to pare down items; I really like this walk through from Meghann at Practically Hippie. It’s pretty close to what I do, without having given the process a name.
My favourite part in decluttering is actually taking what we are keeping and making it more organized!
8. Craft Supplies. There are OODLES of ideas out there for organizing craft supplies. I’ve tried a few, and drooled over many more, but the one that consistently works in our house is shoebox-style storage bins (with lids!) and hanging shoe organizers.
9. I also love hanging shoe organizers for organizing dolls and clothes, small collectibles, and actions figures. I always opt for the clear plastic pockets, so it’s easy for the kids to see what’s inside and to know where there are empty pockets. (Not toy related, but I also use these and/or hanging jewelry holders with clear pockets to organize hair accessories in our daughter’s room.)
10. Beanie Boos. These guys are taking over my house! I’ve decided each child needs a mini-home for their individual Beanie Boo Colllections, and some fun belt/scarf holders are going to do just fine! These will have specific spots to hang in each kid’s room.
11. Colouring Books. I don’t know about you, but there seems to be an endless supply of these in our house. I’ve gotten MUCH more rigid about which ones stay over the years, and designating a small space helps. I spray painted three metal magazine racks I picked up at a dollar store to match our daughter’s room; one is for colouring books, one is for craft paper, one is for books. Another $5 project that saves space and combats clutter!
12. Playing Cards and Small Puzzles. This is an idea I’m excited to try: travel soap containers to hold playing cards and larger food containers for small puzzles! A photo or similar label on the cover will be a must for keeping things organized!
13. Large Puzzles. I’m a HUGE fan of mesh laundry bags for storing things that are odd sizes, especially things like puzzles, that often have pieces that slide out. (I also use these to store kids’ socks and underwear when travelling, especially when we’re sharing luggage.)
14. Stuffed Animals. There are lots of great DIY projects and off-the-self items that can help you organize stuffed animals. Our go-to has been a small pop-up laundry hamper; it’s cute, easy for the kids to manage, and cost less than $5. I’m also a fan of the bean bag style chair covers that are meant to be filled with stuffies, and this end-of-bed corral idea!
15. Bulky Items. These can be tricky, but Pinterest is full of great ideas, like this pegboard display for NERF guns!
16. Dress Up Costumes. We LOVE our DIY costume caddy; it’s been a lifesaver for keeping our collection organized and accessible. Now that we’re leaving the preschooler stage, it’s getting a little small, so we might need to upgrade; I’m thinking a simple locker-style movable storage solution will be a 2018 DIY project!
17. Sentimental Toys. Some things are hard to say goodbye to, even if you know they’re not getting played with as much as they used to. I’m not good at giving away or selling these toys; I still have some from when I was a kid! This is where a few higher shelves can be useful. You can display a few key items, but having them out of reach keeps them from cluttering up the floors. Again, use the ‘it must fit in THIS space’ rule to keep yourself in check; you decide whether that space is a small shelf or a steamer trunk.
Bonus tip: If you do have shelves, make use of the space under the shelves, too!
18. LABEL IT ALL! A key to successfully getting the whole family on board with your vision of organization is putting labels on EVERYTHING! Make sure you use a mix of images and words for the little ones!
There you have it – 18 ideas for decluttering and organizing kids’ toys! I’d love to know your go-to tricks for keeping things neat and tidy – my house can always use more ideas! You can find more ideas on my Pinterest board on this topic, too!