Operation "Organize the Top 10 Areas of Our Home that Need it Most" continues today with the always growing amount of TOYS! Like anyone else with kids, and especially after the holidays, we find ourselves really needing a good toy reorganization.
I have rarely shown this space in our home because it's not been anything worth seeing. It was designed to be a "media room" - mostly a guy's space to watch games and hang out. For a couple years, it was just a storage space for unused furniture after we moved from our townhouse. As we've cleared out the furniture, there became more space and James started playing in there. Christmas 2013, my parents got him the big basketball hoop that he and his friends enjoy playing, so it's here to stay for awhile. I meant to have the walls painted a dark, manly blue, but it came out crayola blue instead and we never fixed it. I'm thinking of painting it a darker gray in the future.
As for the endless amount of toys, we didn't have any real organization happening and James still has so many baby and toddler toys. With his 5th birthday approaching, I knew we needed to let go of LOTS of those older toys and organize the space.
One of our biggest problems is that the toys are not relegated to upstairs. Of course James likes to play with his toys at the counter where he eats breakfast and in the living room so he can be with the rest of the family. We've cleaned up and organized the toys before, but it's a constant battle to keep them organized.
We have two toy boxes that sit on either side of the media cabinet, but that doesn't hold all of the big stuff.
That big basket is for his dress up costumes, lightsabers and swords, but lots of other toys have gotten dumped in there.
And behind the couch are more toys. James wanted to get in this picture. :)
sort | toss | organize
Call me crazy, but I decided to tackle the toys while James was home. You might think it would be easier to clean out and organize the toys while the kids are at school, but actually, I needed him to tell me what half of the toys were or what pieces go with what. And he knows every single piece! I kept asking, "is this garbage?" and he'd tell me, "no, that goes with my megazord" or something like that.
Also, I knew we needed to donate a lot of toys and I didn't want to get rid of anything without him knowing. He was somewhat reluctant at first, but I am really proud of how many things he ended up donating.
The first step when I do this (and this isn't the first time!), is to gather all the toys, including everything in the toy boxes and sort through it. I try to find categories of things (sports, music, dress up, legos, power rangers, transformers, but not everything fits so neatly into a category. I decided not to be so super strict and I gave one bin to "small toys that don't belong anywhere else." That might have saved my sanity and kept those toys from going into the trash. Seriously, I did put a couple things in the trash pile, and of course, James would be right behind me going, "my gingerbread man isn't trash." Can't pull anything over on this kid. (See said gingerbread man in the above photo on the bottom left).
Going through and organizing all these toys (downstairs and up and in his room) took a long time (pretty much a whole weekend), so of course he lost interest and didn't help the entire time.
donating toys with kids
The second reason I did this chore mostly with James home was because I knew we needed to donate a lot of toys and I didn't want to get rid of anything without him knowing. He was somewhat reluctant at first, but I am really proud of how many things he ended up donating.
I started by just asking him if he still played with a certain toy. He said yes to a lot of things I knew he really didn't play with anymore so I just moved on, but if he said, "no", I asked him to consider donating and he agreed.
Later, I reminded him that his birthday was coming up and he might be getting new toys. To make room for them, we should get rid of some things he wanted to donate. "How many new toys would you like for your birthday?" He said 9, so I told him to choose 9 things to donate and he went around and collected 9 toys to give away.
As we kept whittling away and our donation pile grew, I asked him if we could donate those big toys that babies or younger kids would really like playing with and he didn't play with so much anymore.
We even went through his stuffed animals and with each one I asked, "keep or donate" and I let him decide. I feel much better about him being involved in the process, even though it took much longer, I think it's a good lesson for us both.
After everything was sorted through, a good sweeping and vacuuming of spaces was in order.
I got most of the remaining toys in the playroom upstairs separated into bins, but wanted to find a better way to house them.
Do you know where this post is heading? I found myself alone at IKEA on Saturday night (one of my worst nightmares), but my husband is smart enough to decline an invitation to come with, and I really needed that damn Kallax shelf, so off I went.
Because I don't intend to keep this room blue- I'm thinking grey, I wanted the glossy red Kallax unit. At least my husband helped me put it together. James helped too. The Kallax comes in several colors now, including a pretty light blue, pink, or mint. But I had to stay focused on this space!
Although I knew I wanted the red shelves, I was torn on the baskets. I didn't want to spend a fortune, the woven ones at Ikea didn't seem like they'd hold up too well (plus they're expensive) and the hard plastic ones seemed like they would break. I almost got this one, but they didn't have any in stock at my store and then I came across the ones I ended up getting. The Drona could've worked too, but I thought that material would get dirty quicker. I ended up buying these below that I'm still looking for online. They are 3 for $15 and seem to be made out of vinyl! Score!
They hold a ton of toys and are easy to pull in and out. I should label them, but that's on the to-do list for now.
So, it's not the prettiest or well-decorated playroom and we could do a lot more with the space as far as taking advantage of the height, but for now, it's pretty well organized. And clean! With so many of those big toddler toys gone, this room can really breathe. I have to be thankful for what the space is now, without criticizing what it isn't yet if that makes sense. I always want to show you a beautifully decorated space, but that takes time and I'm just focusing on organizing now. Decorating and redesigning the room will have to come later.
I brought most of James' books back into his bookshelf and cleared out a space for him to read.
The multi-basket organizer that was in this corner previously is gone, and his construction bench is in it's place. I kept those colored plastic bins though- they are in the toy boxes downstairs. James chose the art :) and now he can reach the light by himself with a stepstool.
Now he can access the record player he got for Christmas this year. I moved my sewing machine into the guest room, but I should make room for it in my office closet. See how you have to keep moving stuff around when you organize?!
Here are almost all of the lucky stuffed animals that get to stay. There are a few more in his room.
The space downstairs has been well cleaned out too. The sports toys are still behind the couch and maybe I should move that basket of costumes to the playroom.
The toy boxes are good now!
Room to play!
Here's a quick look at the TOY organization progress.
Phew! Did I really resolve to organize 10 areas this month?! I'm already tired, but feeling good about what's already been done. I need an easier project next! :)
Update: You can see the organizing challenges I completed here:
FRIDGE | PANTRY | TOYS | MEDICINE/BATH DRAWERS | PAPERWORK | MUDROOM/CLEANING SUPPLIES | KID CLOTHES