Get a peek into my process for how to clutter kids' toys and take our organized playroom tour! (Yes, it's possible to have an organized playroom! 😉 )
Can I be honest? I needed to write today's post more for me than for anybody else! 🙂 Of alllllllll of the things I organize in our home, the kids' toys can be one of the most challenging, and our playroom was getting a little bit crazy.
Sure, it looked innocent enough when we showed it in our one year home tour a few weeks ago...
...but in reality, there were a lot of issues going on in this space. I felt like every single shelf was packed to the brim with stuff, much of which the boys never even played with. Not only did this make it hard for the boys to find the toys they were looking for, but the room was always a mess because not everything had a designated spot, and it was hard to put things away.
I also wasn't crazy about the layout of the space. We had brought in the card table as a stand in piece when the boys outgrew their much smaller lego table, but it took up too much of the useable floor space. The result was that the boys' actual play space was really limited and the room always felt crowded.
I finally decided that I couldn't take it anymore when I walked into the playroom and it looked like this:
About every 6 months or so, I try to go through all of the boys' toys and help them purge anything that they're not loving or using anymore, and we were definitely due for a good clean out!
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How to Declutter Kids' Toys
I thought I would first talk about the process we go through to purge and declutter the kids' toys, and then I'll show you what we ended up with for our final organizing systems!
1. Prime the Pump
A few weeks before I know I'll be doing one of our major playroom purges, I start trying to pay extra close attention to what the boys are playing with and what they're not. When I've gotten a good idea of what toys seem to be on the way out, I will start casually mentioning that it might be time to let those go soon.
I'll say things like, "Caleb, you don't really seem to play with those Imaginext toys now that you're getting so big! Since you seem to be liking your Legos better these days, why don't we think about giving the Imaginext castle to a younger kid who might not have one?"
Having these types of conversations helps me further gauge the boys' level of attachment to certain toys, and it gets them thinking about whether or not they're ready to let them go.
2. Make the First Pass Alone
Once I've gotten the boys used to the idea of a toy purge, I try to go through the room and make the first pass of decluttering by myself. This lets me get rid of the stuff that really needs to go (think: broken toys, things that unsafe or worn out, trash, etc.) without the boys there to protest.
I definitely don't get rid of anything they're still really attached to. These are more items that they'll never miss and that will be better for all involved if they're gone for good. 🙂
3. Bring in the Kiddos
After I've done the initial pass through everything, I'll bring in the boys to help. They know their toys way better than I do, so they know what's missing pieces, what hasn't worked for a while, what they're not using anymore, etc.
We go through each and every bin and really try to be as ruthless as possible. At this point, they know that they'll be happier if their playroom is organized and not packed to the brim with stuff, so they're pretty good about knowing what they want to keep and what they should let go.
This step will probably look different for each and every family. At 6 and 8, my boys are a little older now, so they are able to stay fairly focused for a good amount of time and we can get through things fairly quickly.
When the boys were really small, I mostly went through the bins by myself and only asked them for input if something seemed borderline keep or toss. When they got a little bigger, they might help me do one or two bins and then we'd wait until the next day and do one or two more. You know your own kids and what they can handle!
4. Donate and/or Sell!
We of course throw away trash and anything that is unsafe from the playroom, but if we have toys that are still in good condition, I try to either donate them or sell them on Craigslist or Facebook yard sale groups. (I'm not a big consignor myself, but that is also another great option if you have kids' consignment shops near you!)
Since we had a lot of larger sets that were in good condition that we were finished with, I checked with the moms from my church's MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group this time, and was able to give away almost all of our items to younger kids who were in the perfect phase to play with them.
Our church also has a yard sale every year to raise money for the youth mission trips, so I will sometimes save a bunch of items to donate there. There are often other local mission organizations or shelters looking for toy donations as well. And of course many thrift stores will take toys too.
5. Evaluate Space and Storage
Once I see what we have left, I try to see how I can make everything easily accessible for the boys-- both to take toys out and to put them away-- while making the very best use of my space.
Do I really need all of the storage pieces in the room? Is there a different piece in my house that would work better? Is there a different storage piece that would be worth investing in? Would switching around bins or containers make sense?
I thought this was going to just be a quick decluttering, but we ended up getting rid of several larger items, so I was able to rearrange almost everything to give us a space that met the boys' needs so much better! Let me give you the grand tour! 🙂
Our Organized Playroom Tour
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.
I almost feel like I breathe a sigh of relief when I come in this room now! It feels so much more open and spacious, and it functions so much better too!
Right when you walk in the door, we have a shelf to store large toys. This was a really inexpensive IKEA shelf; it was originally just unfinished wood and I whitewashed it.
We used to have two of these in the space, but when we got rid of some of our toys we were able to move one over to my office (it now holds my throw pillows--yay)!
With this shelf and all of the large storage pieces in the room, we always make sure to anchor them to the wall so they don't tip over and hurt the boys. If for some reason we no longer have the original anchor system that came with the shelf, we have used these anchors, and they've worked really well for us.
On the next wall, we have a little bin for the boys' stuffed animals and then a KALLAX cube unit for more toy storage.
The striped bin on the left holds the boys' nerf guns.
We had two smaller KALLAX pieces in here before, but this one had been down in Donnie's office and he wanted to get it out of there, and it really ended up working better with the room configuration anyway, so we brought it up!
We were using six fabric storage bins to hold different categories of toys but were able to go down to just four after our purge! On each one I have an adhesive bookplate with a label so the boys can easily tell what goes where.
We have books on the upper two shelves, with Caleb's being a little lower so he can reach them and Connors being up on the top shelf.
Above the storage unit, the boys helped me frame some comic books they already owned to be used as art. This was such a quick, easy, and inexpensive project, and they absolutely love it.
On the back wall of the playroom, we created a little art station for the boys...
We got rid of the old card table and instead brought in this desk that was an extra I had in my office. I lucked out and found the cute chairs in IKEA's "As Is" section for a steal a few weeks ago, and they are perfect in this space.
The boys know I must really love them because I gave them my aqua rolling cart that I love so much and turned it into a little art cart to hold all of their craft supplies.
I used some acrylic organizing boxes to hold each of the items, so it is really easy for them to pull what they need over onto the desk and then put it back when they're done.
I also hung a magazine rack that we had used in the boys' old room to hold their coloring books and paper...
...and these curtain wires (also used at our last house) were the perfect way to display the Cs' artistic creations!
Finally, the last wall in the room holds alllllllll the Legos!
I could go on and on about my theory behind Lego storage, but for now I'll just say that we use these towers to hold all of our miscellaneous Lego pieces, only separating out the Lego "guys."
The wall map was a gift to the boys and is Discovery Kids brand. I don't know that it is sold in regular stores anymore, but you can sometimes find it on eBay.
Finally, we wanted to have somewhere to store the boys' finished Lego creations, so we installed ALGOT shelves (now called BOAXEL) in the closet so they can display their sets proudly.
We keep one file box for each boy at the bottom of the closet to hold some mementos from each school year. You can read more about how we handle kids' paperwork in this post.
Well that was probably more information than you ever wanted to know about kids' toy organization!! 🙂 If you've stuck around this long, congratulations!! Let's take a quick look at the before and after:
What I love the very most about this transformation is how the boys can enjoy their space so much more now. I was at Target the other day and Donnie texted me and said, "It's like Caleb has rediscovered all of his toys!" And it's true! It's amazing how much of a difference it makes when the boys can easily see what they have because it's not cluttered up by all sorts of things they aren't even using.
The room has also stayed much, much cleaner since we reorganized because everything has a specific spot to go back to and it's easy for Con and Caleb to put everything back in its place (which cuts down on the whining about cleaning up too-- bonus)!
Of course, everyone's kids and space and needs will be different! There is definitely no "one size fits all" answer when it comes to toy storage. But I hope that this tour has sparked some ideas you can use in your own home that will work perfectly for your kids and your family.
For more ideas on getting organized with kids, see these posts:
[Psssttt… You can find ideas for organizing every single room of the house in this post!]
This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.