Today we are organizing toys for Day 11 of our free 30-day series about how to get an organized and clean home. If you’ve just discovered this blog series, here’s the overview with links to previous days’ missions.
Every day’s mission has four parts to it:
Organize What’s Left
Clean the Space
Keep on Track
This week, we’ve organized kids’ closets and dressers, so now it’s time to get their toys and games organized. Tomorrow, we’ll finish by dealing with the rest of their bedrooms then move on to other areas of the house.
Organizing Toys – Day 11
If your child is anything like mine, the instant you start working together to organize toys they’ll develop a sudden, fierce attachment to things they’d completely forgotten about prior to today. So, whether to work with them or not for the initial purge is entirely up to you.
As I’ve suggested before, sometimes it’s easiest to start organizing toys by going through them by yourself — when they’re at school, for instance — to remove the things you know they haven’t touched in ages. Then, once they’re home, have them participate in a second decluttering session. You may not even have to mention the first one.
Gather Your Supplies
- Trash bags
- Boxes for items you’ll donate
- Packing tape
- Microfiber cloths
- All-purpose cleaning spray (spray recipe)
- Mild dish soap
- Hydrogen peroxide (3%)
Removing clutter and organizing toys starts by putting everything into one huge pile. As you remove items from wherever your kid is supposed to store them — along with all of the places where they actually do — go ahead and toss away the following:
- Obvious trash (food wrappers, wads of paper, etc.)
- Anything that’s broken.
- Games with missing pieces.
- Toys with missing parts.
Now, go through the pile of toys you’ve made and box up the following for donation:
- Toys they’ve outgrown.
- Toys still in packaging (they’re obviously not interested in them)
- Toys that drive you crazy
- Toys that consistently start arguments or meltdowns
- Toys they haven’t played with for as long as you can remember
If you see things in the pile that belong in another room, put them in a different box and set them aside.
Then, tape the box for donation closed and put it in the trunk of your car now before your kid can start rummaging through it and reclaiming things.
A Nice Way to Phrase It
If your children are helping you organize toys, they may start to balk at seeing the pile for donation
One way to help them feel more comfortable is by explaining that you’re rehoming them. Their old toys are going to make another child happy. Point out that your child is generous for letting go of things they don’t need, and that some other child who does need more things will love having them.
And if that doesn’t work, you can always mention that getting rid of old toys makes room for new ones. (This is where I heavily implied to my kids that keeping their newly uncluttered rooms clean would make me far more willing to buy new toys. But first, we had to make room for them.)
Organizing toys requires making storage so quick and easy that they don’t have to think about where things belong. Shelves of rainbow-colored, covered storage boxes with pretty chalkboard labels look great on Pinterest (and generate loads of traffic for bloggers like me), but they are very difficult for kids to use on a daily basis.
Here are some reality-based suggestions:
Lego and toy block storage needs to be simple. Keep them out from under your feet (and vacuum) by making it easy to put these things
Wall-based storage works great for toy cars, too. Fasten several 2-3′ lengths of rain gutter to wall studs and, boom, you’ve got a cute shelf for their cars. Short on wall space? My son used this toy truck that holds over two dozen toy cars for years. (He just saw the picture over my shoulder and sighed. I am not getting one for his college dorm!)
Solve the stuffed toy pile. Tired of having to clear off stuffed toys from the bed every night? Give them a place of their own by hanging a toy hammock in one corner of the room. They’ll be off the floor, within reach, and look cute.
Limit the use of lids. Lidded containers aren’t kid-friendly, so they rarely get used for long. Try open plastic tubs on shelves to hold favorite toys. Putting things away is so much faster (and likely to happen) when they can immediately see where things go.
Functional storage works well. Get double-duty from a toy chest that doubles as a bench. Your kids gain another surface to play on besides the floor, and they can simply chuck toys inside after playing.
Some toys can’t be dumped into a container or stuck on a shelf after playtime. Board games and puzzles, for instance, need space of their own. So do art supplies, especially markers and paints.
When it comes to storing these things, think about whether your child needs supervision while using them, then organize stratetically.
- Heavy toys should go on the floor or bottom shelves to avoid injury.
- Toddler toys with batteries pose serious dangers, as do other toys with small parts, so put these toys where your child can’t reach them without your help. Keep an eye on your child while they play, then put them back out of reach afterward.
- Unless you enjoy finding your home unexpectedly redecorated with fingerpaints or permanent markers, keep these on a high shelf so you can supervise their use.
Clean the toy shelves with a damp microfiber cloth and soapy water once you’ve removed everything. Wipe them with a clean, damp cloth and let them dry before putting toys away.
Use a mild soap and water to clean grimy toys. For items that can’t be submerged, a quick spray with hydrogen peroxide reduces germs. (Let it sit for 5 minutes then wipe with a damp cloth.)
Here’s how to wash stuffed animals, too.
Keep it Clean
Keeping the areas we’ve already ROCKed from falling apart takes a few minutes of effort at the end of each mission. I know, it’s been a long couple of days dealing with the kids’ closets, dressers, and toys, but hang in there!
Don’t skip this step!
We aren’t re-cleaning anything at this point, we’re simply resetting things. This process takes just 15 or so minutes altogether, but it will keep your home from back into that clean/clutter cycle that we’re working to break.
- Entryway: Sweep or shake the mat outside.
- Coat closet: Make sure everything is hung up then pick up any trash.
- Dining table: Grab things that don’t belong and wipe the surface.
- Kitchen: Put things into the cupboards that don’t belong on the counters. Wipe the countertops and sweep up any spills.
- Family room and Living Room: Throw away trash. Grab things that are out of place. Wipe tabletops. Straighten the pillows and throw blankets.
- Guest bathroom: Check supplies. Use a disinfecting wipe on the faucets and sink basin. Grab anything that doesn’t belong.
- Kids’ closets and dressers: Grab anything that doesn’t belong. Have them pick up trash and put away things out of place.
Put away the things you’ve found out of place and take a break. You’re done for the day!
See You Tomorrow
We’ll finish organizing and cleaning the kids’ bedrooms tomorrow. Since we’ve already taken care of their closets, dressers, and toys, it should be an easier day! If you’ve been falling behind on laundry, you might even have time to catch up on it.
Or come hang out with us in the Do Home Better Group on Facebook. We’re all working through this plan as best we can, and love exchanging stories and tips about how we’re doing.