Where are all the toys??

When it comes to organizing, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is about how I deal with all the toy clutter.  I can absolutely relate and have to be honest; the super-clean, no-toy pictures I post of our living room do NOT represent what the room looks like most of the time!  Those pictures are snapped during naptime after a semi-mad dash to quickly get everything out of sight for the photo. Here’s a good example of what the living room looks like on a typical day.  The blanket is on the floor because the rug is a little scratchy for baby knees (when he’s wearing shorts).  DSC_0479 I do try to keep the number of toys downstairs reasonable and put the rest in James’ room or in the play area of our sitting room.  I think it helps that, in general, we don’t have loads and loads of toys.  And the stuff we’re no longer using (but not ready to get rid of) like the baby swing, vibrating chair, etc. is up in the attic.  Two large Target baskets hold most of the toys, except those too large for the basket. image At the end of the day, after James has gone to bed, all of the toys get put back into their baskets and “stored” against the media cabinet.  I also fold the blanket and put it under the ottoman.  NOTE:  this does not happen every night!  Sometimes we don’t bother to take the 5 minutes to do the clean up- we just leave it for the next day! image Books are stored in this bin that goes on the bottom shelf of the end table. image If I really want to get the toys out of sight, we have room behind our couch near the windows.  I also just realized that we can store toys behind the media cabinet doors as the shelves inside are adjustable.  image But what about giant toys like this?  image That big car sometimes gets “parked” in our butler’s pantry or put outside.  My friend Londen (Sixty-Fifth Avenue) made a good point when she remarked that babies’ toys are big when they are little, then turn into lots of little pieces as they get older.  We’re not there yet, but I have stored Courtney’s (A Thoughtful Place)tips for organizing those toys for future reference.  Also, we do not have a dedicated “play room” in our house, but we do have a large (currently empty) media room that I have a feeling will be doubling as a play room in the near future!  What are your tips for keeping the kiddos’ toys organized?  If you have young kids, do you have toys in the living room too?  I hope I’m not alone!  If you go to my “Organization” page, you’ll find some great posts from some of my favorite bloggers about how they control the kid stuff. And a heads up: tomorrow I’ll be announcing a $200 e-spree GIVEAWAY to Joss & Main– really excited about this one!! *********

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Meet Megan

Hi! I’m Megan, mom to a thoughtful teenager and spunky young girl. We call Houston home and recently moved into our dream home. I traded my lawyer hat to become a full-time blogger in 2010. I love sharing my passion for affordable fashion, home decor, organization, & fitness to help inspire you to take care of you!


  1. Hi! Your couch is THE perfect couch for me! Do you know if it is still for sale where you got it from? Where can I get it? I've been to every furniture store and it's so hard to find one that is perfect and yours is!

  2. Anon- our couch is from Pottery Barn and they still sell it. The only problem is the back cushion we sit on the most has gotten very "smooshy" and is starting to lose its shape. I think it's called "Pierce"

  3. oh girl. you should see our 'bonus' room. I keep our main spaces toy free except for a basket or two of toys but. then. there's. the. upstairs. jeez! I'll tweet a pic tomorrow if I can. PS- I spent 2 hours tonight organizing the serving pantry (all platters, trays, bowls, etc) and then the fridge. dear lord. the fridge. and its all your fault, lol. xoxo

  4. ahhh, the ever present toy bins. My kiddos are 3 and 2 so they have started moving towards the smaller items in higher quantities. My biggest piece of advice is to start teaching them the clean-up song early. My kids are very spoiled and have more toys than we know what to do with so I bring them out in shifts (ie- leggos and cars down for a month or so then replace them with dinosaurs and potato head). Also, everything has a place, I have baskets for each different type of toy. This makes it easy for the kids to clean because they know where things go. Also they know where to find the toy they are looking for instead of dumping a big toy box out just to find barbies other shoe. As they get older they also prefer playing in their rooms more so than the living room. I also try to remember they are just kids, their idea of clean isn't always the same as mine but I chose to encourage that independence. It will get better as they get older.

  5. My comment isn't related to this post what so ever, the only toys I get to hide are bones and balls from my two crazy mutts…but I just have to say that I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY love your curtains the more I see them & I'm REALLY jealous that you got the rest of the fabric on clearance!!!

    Back in my nanny/babysitting days my Type A personality would come out…a lot…and I encouraged kiddos to help me pick up and make a game out of it. Several families would rotate toys and keep some hidden in the attic for new siblings/babies. I always loved it when they "rotated" the toys because the kids would get so excited thinking they got new toys..lol.

  6. …Ummm… I DON't keep them organized that well! No playroom, so toys in the living and dining room. Most of the time!

    One thing I do do for the Legos in my son's room is have an empty bookshelf for "display". When I do make him clean the floor he can put whatever he made that he's proud of on display and throw the rest of the blocks in the bin.


  7. Back in the day, yes the girls are now 17 & 21, our family room floor looked just like that during the day. I made it a point to pick up (or they picked up once old enough to help) prior to dinner and hubby coming home. We reserved after dinner for "quiet" play, books, songs, bath, etc. When the girls got old enough to navigate the stairs on their own safely, we moved their toys to our bonus room that became a playroom and family media room for all of us to enjoy. There we purchased inexpensive cabinets with closed doors and some open shelving to store all of their toys. It was nice to have a spot where they could play while we watched a movie and if we didn't feel like cleaning up, it didn't interfere with the rest of the house.

  8. Something I have learned as my girls get older is that even if you do try to have a dedicated "toy space"/play room, or whatever…the toys manage to leak out somehow and spread them selves all over the house. And yes, the toys get smaller: Barbie accessories, dinosaurs, Polly Pockets, GI Joes, etc.

    I have big bins on the shelves in our addition and the toys go in there by category (doll house, Barbie, Pet Shop, etc). I TRY to make the girls put one thing away before they play with another, but most of the time it looks like a big free-for-all.

    I remember when all the toys used to fit into one or two wicker laundry baskets. It was glorious. 😉 Love the idea of just sticking the walker outside while company is over!

  9. My kids are a little bit older now, 8 & 12.
    I used to have lots of baskets ( like in your picture). It was a win win situation, because I love baskets & my kids loved toys!
    When he gets a little older make it a nightly routine before he heads to bed see who can put the toys in the basket quicker 😉
    We have a toy room & as the kids get older, they tend to be able to keep the toys in the toy room.

  10. Oh, how I can relate to this post!! My living room looks like a princess lives here. Pink plastic toys, everywhere and at the end of the night I bring them all back to her room. Sigh

  11. I know it can feel frustrating at times, but honestly, that phase of life passes SO quickly and your room looks lovely and perfectly neat to me, even with the giant primary colored plastic stuff. 🙂

  12. My way of storing toys is similar to yours. We have a dedicated playroom and then some toys are kept in the living room in storage ottomans.

    One thing that has really helped me control the clutter in the living room is to only have toys that don't have a pieces. So every single toy can be out of the ottomans and it is not a huge, huge mess. Makes for easy clean up too!

    Somehow toys from the playroom tend to migrate to the living room, so every 2 weeks or so I go through them.

  13. Good grief, thanks for the reminder of the old cookie sheet trays. I found one that I was just about to junk and this post reminded me that I wanted to spruce it up for an upcoming 10 hour drive trip. Oh thank goodness you were so kind to post this just when I needed to jog that memory of mine! This will be a lifesaver.

    Thanks Teri

  14. Thanks for the shout out girlie. It's a constant issue . .those toys! But enjoy the big bright toys around . . I miss seeing the baby swing. Baskets and bins are our best friend here too.

  15. Your house is looking great! I love your organization with the toys…my boys are older now but I remember organizing and re-organizing their toys all the time! Have fun! It goes by fast!

  16. When my 3 yo daughter was more baby age, we stored all of her toys and blankets in a big armoire in the living room. I put a couple of hanging shelves in there and baskets on the bottom to keep it organized. And the big stuff got shoved in the pantry at night…. or at least when we had friends over. Now that she is bigger, she has a playroom and it is definitely time to purchase some playroom storage pieces!

  17. When James gets older and is into Legos or other tiny toys, here is a tip for cleaning up quickly without losing your mind: you'll need a queen-sized fitted sheet and a milk crate or other bin. Spread the sheet out and dump all the Legos/Blocks/etc onto it. It makes a great play mat and will protect those little knees, too. When it's time to clean up, gather the sheet by the corners into a pouch and put it into the milk crate. It scoops all the Legos up at once! The fitted sheet elastic keeps most of the Legos from falling off the edge during play, too. Hope that helps! Love your blog!

  18. We have a media cabinet like you, which is where all my 14-month-old's toys live. The bigger toys get thrown quickly into a coat closet for company. 🙂

    The hardest thing is getting grandparents/loved ones not to buy every GIANT plastic toy they see to store in our house. Do you have this problem too?

  19. That is SO what our house looks like too! I just hide it all away at the end of the day! Literally with those same toys and books!

  20. I don't think seeing little kids' toys is really a bad thing. I like your idea of the large baskets, & I did something similar when my kiddoes were little. That would be way back in the dark ages. LOL!!! I also got them involved in the cleanup at a very young age & made it into a game. We would sing a little song (I made up the words & used one of their favorite tunes) about "This is how we clean up our mess." They thought it was fun & it got them in the habit of picking up after themselves. Well, that lasted until they were teenagers, anyway! It's kind of all about doing less for your children & doing more with them. Even time spent cleaning up can be quality & fun-time spent together.

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