When Princess first started accumulating toys, I threw them all in one container. I had my eye on a toy box thinking that would be the easiest way to keep them picked up, but I soon realized that a toy box was not the best solution as toys get jumbled together and broken easily, not to mention that you can never find the one you're looking for.
The solution is to organize toys into separate bins. For bigger toys without a lot of pieces, I store them directly on the shelf, but sets go into a canvas bin or bucket. This makes it much easier for the kids to clean up after themselves. I've seen some people label their bins with a picture of the type of toy that goes into it,but nothing sticks really well to the canvas bins so I haven't done that. If you're storing yours in plastic bins, I would definitely recommend that as kids are so visual.
|This shelf works perfectly for toys! If you look closely, you can see that Little Man's hotwheels collection is stored on the bottom shelf in a pink ice cream pail. Poor boy.|
|A close-up of several of the bins. The red one holds miscellaneous toys and the blue one holds My Little Ponies|
1. If the toys don't fit in their designated bins or area, it's time to say goodbye to a few! When we get to that point, first I throw out anything that's broken, then I make a pile of toys that I don't mind getting rid of and have the kids pick a certain number of them to give to kids who don't have any toys (aka Goodwill). This gets the kids involved and teaches them about generosity.
2. Divide the toys in half and put half of them in storage. Every few months or when it looks like the kids are losing interest in the toys that are out, switch them for the ones that are in storage. Every time we make the switch, it's like Christmas at my house!
3. Ask relatives to go in on one big gift for all your kids instead of giving each child little things. Or, if your children are still young enough not to notice, ask them to just buy one small gift for each child to unwrap and put the rest of the money they would have spent on a gift into the child's savings account.
Update: Since I wrote this post, I've gotten these canvas bins which help make the toy shelf neater and stores the toys better. The best part? The cheapest I've seen them in stores was $6 apiece and the ones I found on Amazon are good quality and were less than $5 apiece!
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