Your challenge this week is to organize toys and games in your childrens' rooms, and around the house, so your kids can actually find and play with their toys, and you don't trip over anything anymore.
This week we're finishing the focus on our children's stuff, at least for a while, by focusing on the area that generally gives most parents (including me) the most trouble -- toys, stuffed animals, games, puzzles, and other stuff we have for our kids to amuse themselves with.
The steps for this week should be done with your children, if they're old enough to participate. They deserve to have their opinions listened to and considered in the process of decluttering and organizing their toys, although you, as a parent, also have quite a large stake in the process.
Are you new here? This challenge about how to organize toys and games is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren't already a regular reader).
Before you can begin to organize toys and games in your home you've got to get rid of all the stuff your children don't even play with, or the extra things that are taking up so much room they don't even have space to spread out and play.
You must involve your children in the decluttering step, because otherwise there will be potential mutiny, and also because their feelings will get very hurt. You wouldn't like it if someone came in and started throwing away your stuff without consulting you first, and letting you take part in the process, so don't do that to your kids.
Prime examples of toys that should be decluttered include:
I have several days worth of decluttering missions, as part of the Declutter 365 missions here on the site, to help you work through the decluttering process. Here's the article about decluttering broken and outgrown toys which is often the easiest place to start when getting rid of toy clutter.
Some of the specific categories of toys I focus on within the missions include:
When we begin this important first step in the Organize Toys and Games Challenge don't just put everything you declutter into the donate box. Only donate good stuff, that others would use, not junk. You should also arm yourself with a good old fashioned garbage bag to throw some things away.
A good rule of thumb is to think, would you hand this to a child to play with without embarrassment or concern? If not, toss it. For example, if the toy is broken, missing parts or pieces, extremely dirty, etc. don't donate it. Just throw it away.
We all know how it feels to have to part with our stuff sometimes, and kids feel the same way from time to time. If, during the process of decluttering you meet some resistance, reluctance, or anxiety about decluttering their toys here are some strategies you can use to help your kids through the process:
These strategies listed above are some that have worked with my kids in the past, but I know there have got to be more of them. Please share your ideas and strategies below, in the comments, to give everyone even more good ideas for helping our kids learn the process of decluttering without anxiety.
This is the perfect time of year to do a big toy declutter, since Christmas is fast approaching, and that means a new influx of stuff may be coming into your home soon.
You may want to make a rule of "one in, one out" for toys, to keep things from piling back up in your home and being overrun with toys again in the future. If you make a habit of getting rid of excess toys as you go along your child will not be as concerned about parting with them either, because it becomes a regular event. Plus it helps teach them how to organize toys and other items in their home, which is an important life skill.
For more ideas and inspiration on decluttering kids stuff check out the getting rid of kids clutter hall of fame, which also includes a full list of all the decluttering missions I recommend for homes with kids.
One of the best ways to organize toys is by category or type. For example, all the legos together, the action figures in their own storage container, and the toy cars in another.
Similarly, certain toys go together in a set. Those with many small detachable parts and pieces should all be together, preferably in a container that keeps anything from getting lost. In addition, there are certain toys that are almost always played with together, such as dolls and their doll clothes. Keep these types of items together when you organize toys.
Cube storage boxes for kids
[Click to purchase on Amazon.com]
Toys can be kept in your kids' bedrooms, but other places in your home may also have some toys, especially the family room and/or playroom. In every area of your home where you plan to keep some toys make sure there is a designated area for all toys that should be kept there.
The best way to ensure that your kids can and will put away their toys is to create a place for every single toy to be stored when it is not in use. Look at the categories of toys you've kept and designate specific spaces to put these toys. If the space you've designated can't hold them all do another round of decluttering until all the toys you're keeping fit into the space selected for them.
This one step, of making a designated place for each toy kept, is the single most important one in how to organize toys and games in your home.
In addition, if you keep toys in multiple areas of your home (which my family does) you can expect, with time, some "toy migration." It is best to anticipate that kids will bring one toy from their room, into the living room to play sometimes, for example.
I suggest using a couple of temporary storage holders, such as a small laundry baskets, to place these migratory toys in while you're tidying up. Then, you or your child can, every couple of days, empty the temporary storage holders and place these toys back in their rightful spots in their designated areas.
Stuffed animal nets keep toys off the floor
[Click to buy on Amazom.com]
When doing steps 2 and 3, categorizing the toys and games and finding designated spaces for them within your home, make sure you use kid friendly toy storage solutions.
The most important thing to consider when choosing kids' toy storage is to make sure the storage containers not only make it easy for your child to get their toys out, but more importantly for your sanity, that it is easy for them to put the toys back away when they're done. Here are some examples of toy storage solutions that meet this criteria:
Please tell me in the comments below what additional types of toy storage solutions you like to use in your home, and why, to give everyone even more ideas.
I would love to know how this week's challenge about decluttering and organizing toys and games is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized this area of your home below in the comments.
I also love before and after pictures, and would love to see some of yours. Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall Of Fame. You've worked hard to get organized, so now here's your chance to show off!
If you'd like more inspiration you can also check out the playroom storage and organization hall of fame where readers have shared how they've organized this room of their home.
In addition, I'm slowly creating articles about how to organize specific types of common toys. Here's what's been created so far:
We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from the Organize Toys and Games Challenge that we're doing this week. However, this challenge concludes the organization of much of your kids' stuff in your home, so also tie up any loose ends from the last couple of challenges if you can.
However, if you've got several kids like I do these kid related challenges may take you a bit longer, and that's OK. Just keep plugging along.
Next week we're focused on a home away from home for many of us, our vehicles!
I would love to hear from you, sharing your thoughts, questions, or ideas about this topic, so leave me a comment below. I try to always respond back!