I was sitting down with a couple of young, got-it-together moms, brainstorming areas of the house that they needed help with getting organized. When one of them said “Toys” they looked at each other and said “YES!”
Oh I remember the days of stepping on Barbie’s shoes and seeing my living room covered in car tracks. The toys seemed to take a life of their own and movie around at night after I’d cleaned them up. The movie “Toy Story” seemed more like a documentary to me than a cartoon.
If you don’t have kids, or your kids toys are things like iPads, then choose an area of your own “toys” to start working on. Maybe it’s a hobby, a craft area, the “sports area” of your garage, or a collection of some sort – the principles are the same.
When it comes to toys (or almost any other area of your home,) the most important thing to do is figure out what you are keeping, what you are giving away, and what you are recycling/throwing away.
The first thing to do is to get all the toys into one area. (If you have more than one major area for toys, say your daughter’s room and your son’s room, or a play room and a child’s room, work on one area at a time.) Get stray toys and toy parts into the toy area.
As you are sorting through toys, realize that the reason they are often so hard to organize if there are probably plenty of things that your kids no longer use floating around in there. The less you have to manage, the easier keeping organized will be.
When you are done with this process, you will have a bag of things to recycle, a bag of trash (how did garbage get into the kids toy box? It’s always a mystery…) a box of things to donate, and a box of things to put back into other rooms of the house. (Like stray shoes, socks, the dog’s collar, etc.)
Now that you’re starting with a clean (or cleaner) area, it’s time to take a good hard look at what kind of toys your kids have, and how to organize them. Your daughter who keeps a vet office worth of stuffed animals has different needs than your so who collects Matchbox Cars. Here are some ideas from some smart and toy-savvy moms.
Creating a Toy Library
“Turn a closet into a “toy closet” All toys are stored in organized, labeled containers and kids can only play with one bin of toys at a time. They have to turn in one bin before they can play with another!” Alexia Staelens
“A toy hammock is a great idea, the kids can just toss stuffed animals up there and off the floor.” Robin Neil
A Million Little Pieces
“I think I should write a book called 101 uses for an over the door shoe organizer. They work here too, especially for a girls room! Think Barbies, Barbie clothes, Polly Pockets, etc. Avoid toy boxes or anything deep that is the chasm of hopelessness! Toys go in but they don’t come out! (well at least until you have thrown away every other part to the toy, THEN it shows up!)” Robin Neil
“I’m a Lego organizer freak these days. Directions, pieces all in a see through container with a photo label on the box. Yes, they are kept up so a parent has access to hand out. Bins for easy clean up and a designate area for play. I have let go of “perfect” separation of toys, as long as the boys are happy and can find their stuff, I’m happy.” Stephanie Helder
Less is More
“Rotate toys—less toys equals more attention focused on what they do have. Have the children pick 3 or 4 “favorites” at a birthday or Christmas and put the rest out of sight. When their interest starts to fade with, say, the tea set Aunt June got them, you put it in the closet and pull out the box of dress up that Grandma sent. We go through every 3 months or so and switch out toys (right now its dress up, art tower, 4 board games & Lego’s). Christy Taylor
“Spring Cleaning” happens every season at our house. After birthdays and Christmas, we also have a “Donation Station” where my kids can search through their piles of toys and other things that have accumulated and give them to the Salvation Army or other charity. We throw them in a huge bag and donate away.” Jenny Sulpizio
“Each birthday and Christmas the boys have to ‘give to others who have less than they do.’ For every new toy that comes in, one goes out. It’s a lesson on giving and curbs the over-abundance of ‘stuff.’” Stephanie Helder
Oh – and to keep track of all those Birthdays and other special celebrations, for members of my Facebook Page you can download a year of beautiful calendars to track. I use these in conjunction with my stockpile of birthday and anniversary cards to stay on top of sending a little love. (Plus I keep a stack of Starbucks cards – just in case.) Go over and download it now!
Tell me your best toy organization trick in the comments below.
In honor of my new book, THE GET YOURSELF ORGANIZED PROJECT, I want to help you get your life together, and I want to start with your handbag…
I’ve always known the truth: the bigger your purse, the smaller your butt looks.
But with a large purse come the ability to fill it to the tippy top with a back breaking amount of “stuff”.
I knew I had issues when I casually mentioned to Roger, “I wish they had purses with wheels on them.” His reply, “They do. They’re called suitcases – and you have a problem.”
I would love for you to have the feeling that wherever you go, you are not weighed down by “stuff”.
Here’s my super-speedy way of cleaning out my bag. I simply take my purse and dump it out into a plastic grocery bag. I sort the dump into Put Away, Put Back, and (in this case) Throw Away.
Anything I want to keep that doesn’t belong in my purse gets put away. This is also when I go through receipts I’ve carefully placed in my wallet (or, more likely, the ones I’ve quickly thrown into my purse…) and random notes or other pieces of paper. If you’re away from home while you’re sorting, just put these items into another bag to put away when you get home. And when you get home, put them away in the right spot.
If it belongs in your purse, go ahead and put it back into your purse.
Anything that’s left over in your plastic grocery bag (food wrappers, cash receipts you don’t care about, and so on,) is now garbage that gets recycled or thrown away.
The beauty of the grocery-bag organizing system is that you can do it anywhere, anytime. Just grab a grocery bag and start sorting while you’re waiting for your kids to get out of band practice or while you’re on the phone with your mom.
Clean it Up
Give your purse a good shake and get out any stray bits, crumbs etc. I’ve even used a hand held vacuum to really get the bag clean.
Label It and Put It Away
Assign a spot for everything that belongs in your purse, bag, or backpack. I use three zippered pouches. Everything goes into one of those three pouches or into your wallet (or in rare cases, onto your key chain). The fewer items you place in your purse, the easier it is to know what’s in there.
Wallet. I recommend you keep in your wallet only cash, receipts, checkbook, and credit, debit, and gift cards.
Pouch 1: Makeup bag
Lipstick and gloss
Blush and brush
Eyeglass cleaner wipes
Pouch 2: Emergency kit
Needle and thread
Couple of adhesive bandages
Pouch 3: Change
Other Things to Keep in Your Bag
Keep It Up
If I sort through the items in my purse once a week, it really is easy to stay on top of it. It takes only a couple of minutes to keep it up.
Do you have to do it exactly like this? No. I just want you to have a clean purse that is functional and doesn’t give you a hernia. So tell me here in the comments that you cleaned out your purse by May 18th (and I’d love to hear what the strangest thing you found in there was!), and here is what you could win:
One winner will receive this beautiful Vera Bradley tote on the left filled with Kathi’s entire collection of books
And FIVE winners will receive my FAVORITE tote ever: The “My Husband is a Hottie” bad filled with all of my books!
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