Organizing Toddler Toys

We recently moved the girls into one room to share. We did this for a variety of reasons. First, because we wanted them to share a room eventually, and my thinking was that before my oldest grew too attached to her own space, we might as well put them together in one room.  My little one, who is not so little anymore, has been sleeping through the night for awhile now, so it wasn’t a matter of her waking up her oldest sister in the middle of the night. Even now that they are sharing, my youngest is usually up around 6:30 am anyway, and her cries to get us to come rescue her in the morning, don’t stir my oldest. Anyway, off topic. 🙂 So yes, sharing a room was a goal for us, as well as the fact that bedtime might actually be easier for the two of them if they had a companion in the dark, and so far it has been exactly that for each of them. Another important reason for us to move the girls into one room was because we wanted to have our office space back; mainly just a desk to act as a landing spot for all our paperwork and the printer. We have a three-bedroom house, so once we had our second child, there went our guest room/office. We are hoping to have some of that back, and want to also get a pull-out couch for this room now, so that when we do have guests (mainly Nana and Grampy!) there is a sleeping space for them.  So we turned our older daughter’s room into a playroom/office/guestroom, or rather are in the process of doing so…first step, organize the toys so that we can actually figure out how to configure the playroom.  I’ll share pics of the playroom once it is actually done, but for now, my favorite part of the whole room is the closet! Here is why: more than half of my girls’ toys are in there, instead of all over the rest of the house, and it makes the playroom look so much less crowded. The real reason though is so that we can have a toy rotation and encourage the girls to play with more than just a few toys. So here is what I did.

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I went to Target and got 7 of those 66 quart, clear bins. Then I took nearly all the toys we had and sorted them amongst the bins. At first I had no set way to organize, but then I realized that many of the toys could be grouped in like themes…the vehicles and things that go bin, the animal/farm bin, the Mickey Mouse/Disney bin, the shapes and bucket bin, etc. Some of the toys are more alike then others, but it worked. I also divided up all the various puzzles and peg board amongst the bins (in smaller plastic bins that fit inside the big ones, so as not to loose any stray pieces), and then I labeled each bin with a letter of the alphabet. I took our big toy-bin, which was a large basket chest from our family room, and emptied the contents of bin A into the chest. Then in the closet went all the other bins. My daughters now had those toys to choose from for the week, and every Saturday we swap out the bin. Bin A gets put away and out comes bin B! Its almost like getting a whole bunch of new toys every Saturday, because by the time bin A comes back out, it will have been 7 weeks since they have seen those toys. They are so engaged with the toys too. Now of course there are favorite toys, but most of those are in the bins too, unless they ask for something specifically – nothing is off-limits, just put away, and really, it has been out of sight, out of mind.

I love it because clean up is generally easy, everything goes back into the big toy chest at the end of the day, or, since it is in the playroom, I can also leave it a mess, and close the door! In the girls bedroom we only have two small bins of books in a cozy reading corner, and that’s it, no toys. It is also nice because if one of my daughters is sleeping and the other wants to play, they won’t disturb each other, as the awake child can make her way to the playroom. Granted, toys do seem to wander from the playroom to other parts of the house, but it is easy to find their home at the end of the day. I should also mention that we have their play kitchen and accessories out all the time, as well as their musical instruments, and stuffed animals. So, yes, there are plenty of activities to keep the girls occupied.

Also in the closet I have a blocks basket, play dough bin, games bin, and coloring basket too, but those are activities I like to monitor when they engage in them anyway, so I will pull those out if they ask or to entertain them.

Needless to say, I had lots of fun with my label maker on the smaller baskets and bins; and am excited for this toy organization we have in place! Granted, as the girls get older it might have to be modified, but for the toddler-preschooler age group, it works well for us! Also makes us realize that the girls can appreciate all kinds of toys, rather then just playing with a select few.

Now if we could just get the actual playroom itself done…at least I will always have the closet!

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