The other night we walked into the house and the first thing that popped into our mind: toy story.  And not the classic animated movie.  Toys, toys everywhere!  Again!  With three little kids running around all day, and the colossal failure of our “let’s put one toy away before we take out another” campaign (we do not admit defeat!), last weekend we decided to ask our neighbor, Ms. PH (Perfect House), how she keeps her children’s belongings corralled.  Darn it if she didn’t make a lot of sense!

Here are a few tips…

  • Bins and boxes are better than shelves. Open-top bins, boxes or crates are best for toys.  Why?  It makes it much easier for kids to just toss in the toys.  Plus, toys are still in sight — important for kids who worry when their favorite things are behind closed doors or in closed drawers.
  • Keep bins and storage cubbies low and within reach of little hands.
  • Relax! In the beginning, avoid rigid rules like all the blocks must go in THIS bin, and all the dolls must go in THAT bin.  You’re just setting little ones up for failure – and setting yourself up for frustration.  Focus on establishing the simple habit of picking up toys, period.  You can work on Martha Stewart-style organizing later.
  • Mix it up. Provide a variety of storage options to complement bins. Plastic tubs are great for tiny toys.  Laundry baskets are an easy solution for balls and sports equipment (the vents allow for air circulation, too!).  A small hammock makes a fun bed for stuffed animals.
  • Give kids a role in deciding what goes where.  Does it really matter if the blocks are on the left side of the room and the Legos are on the right?  Let kids have a sense of ownership in the process, and you may find they’re more enthusiastic about cleaning up.

There are so many options for storage and organization. Keep it fun and keep perspective – all kids can learn to love putting toys away!