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Tame the Toy Room


Published: 07/17/2012

by Hellen Buttigieg

 If you've got kids, you've got toys. Tired of tripping over dolls, trucks and blocks? Here are some tips on how to organize the toys so that they don't take over your home.

Most parents admit that their kids have too many toys, so the first step is to pare down. When purging toys, divide and conquer by sorting into three piles:

Damaged:  toys that are broken or missing parts (these will be tossed).
Outcasts:  toys that the kids have outgrown or never really played with in the first place (these will be sent to a charity).
Favourites:  toys that are enjoyed on a regular basis (these stay).

When taking toys to a charity, get your children involved. Once they see the value in giving to those less fortunate, they may be more willing to let go of them.

Toy storage tips

* Having too many toys in the playroom overwhelms kids just as much as parents. You can cut down on excess toys by rotating them. Get a large plastic storage container, label it 'toy library' and place a selection of toys inside it. Put the lid on the container and store it in an out-of-the way place for several months. Every so often, bring out the toy library and exchange the stored toys for other toys that the kids are bored with. The old toys will seem new again and engage the child's interest.

* Organize the toy room in zones: the dress-up zone, the doll zone, the play kitchen zone, the craft zone, the building block zone, etc. This is the model used to keep kindergarten classrooms organized.

* When it comes to storing toys, traditional wooden toy chests are not very useful. Most kids empty them out and climb in or small toys get all tangled up, damaged and forgotten.

* Use small, clear, open plastic bins (no lids) on shelves and sort toys into similar categories to make finding and tidying up a breeze. Label them with pictures if your child is too young to read. Small, lightweight containers with handles are easier to pull off the shelf.

* Make sure shelves are low (no more than three shelves high) so kids can reach their toys. Secure shelving to the wall with brackets to avoid tipping.

* For older children only, use plastic freezer bags that zip up to keep small game pieces or puzzle pieces together. (Small children may put the bags over their heads, which could pose a serious hazard).

* Use hooks or clothing trees to hang dress-up clothes.

* A colourful tackle box with dividers is an ideal way to store small doll accessories on the top and Barbie dolls on the bottom. Or, use it for Lego kits. Its portability is an added bonus when visiting grandparents or sleeping over at a friend's house.

* Children's books usually don't have spines, so placing them on a bookshelf makes locating favourite books difficult. Solve this problem by storing books in plastic bins with the title of the books facing front.

Tips to maintain a tidy toy room

* To keep the toy room tidy, have a 15-minute cleanup time every day and explain to kids that the alternative is spending a whole Saturday cleaning up. Use a timer and put on some of their well-loved music to add an element of novelty.

* Do your part to cut down on toy clutter. Loot bags brought home from birthday parties are usually big clutter culprits. For your child's birthday parties, instead of handing out dollar store items that will end up on the floor, start a trend by giving $5 gift cards from movie rental or book stores.

* When purchasing toys, choose those that stimulate imagination and creativity so children don't lose interest. Examples include a blackboard, art supplies and paper, instruments or dress-up clothes.

* Request that family members and friends give your children the gift of an experience instead of a toy. This includes taking them to an amusement park, a movie, a concert or paying for some music or sports lessons.

Hellen Buttigieg is a professional organizer,she is available for speaking engagements and can be reached at 905-829-2219 or by e-mail at For more organizing tips, visit

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