After the holidays and the past two years of a pandemic, chances are you have more toys, games, and books in your home than ever before. However, we’re also moving back toward some semblance of ‘normal’ with friends and relatives stopping by for visits again. How can you keep your home in order when you have what seems like dozens of board games, hundreds of puzzles, thousands of stuffed toys, and countless books on every surface of your home?
Step one is getting rid of the things your kids no longer need or use. The post-Christmas cleanout is crucial to getting the mountain of kids’ stuff down to a manageable level. It makes logical sense to do this before you bring a ton more toys in at Christmas, but I find my kids are more willing to get rid of the things they don’t play with anymore when their stack of new playthings is relatively fresh in their minds. It can also help to motivate them by chatting about the importance of giving to those less fortunate than ourselves.
Everything in its place
Step two is to give everything a home. Decide what toys and games will live in your child’s bedroom, what goes in a playroom (if you have one), and what will be stored in stylish hiding places in common areas like the living room. Some toys can live in a low kitchen drawer or a bin in the laundry room to help keep your toddlers entertained while you make dinner or do the wash.
Cover it up
For common rooms where you entertain, using containers with lids conceals your kids' toys from your company’s view. It is even better if the storage unit looks like a piece of furniture that belongs there like an ottoman, storage bench, or bins that fit perfectly in a built-in shelf. Another way to store flat items like puzzles, books, and games is under couches or chairs.
In a child’s bedroom or playroom, toys can be more visible - after all, that’s where they belong, but it is still important to have a space that can be easily tidied.
A storage unit in a closet is a great way to keep many items in one area that can be hidden with a quick close of the door. Just make sure if you are using small bins for items like LEGO or puzzles, they are clearly labeled (with a picture rather than words if a child is too young to read).
Under the bed can also be used for hidden storage but there are some things you may want to display. Floating shelves and stackable crates used as cubbies are ways to keep items organized but easily accessible.
Room to play
Bookshelves are a great addition to any playroom to store both books and toys. You can also think outside the box by flipping a bookshelf on its side and adding pillows to the ‘top’ to use as seating, creating a book nook.
Use existing toys as storage for other items. This might sound too good to be true, but it’s not. Dollhouses and play kitchens can do double duty and bean bag chairs that unzip and can be filled with stuffed toys are widely available.
The final tip for storing your kids’ stuff without looking like you have something to hide is to use as many baskets and bins as you can. Color coordinating the bins to match the theme of the room can make it look like they are there intentionally and not to hide things.
The most crucial aspect of stylish storage is to make sure that your kids’ stuff makes it into the place you’ve created for it. Make cleanup time fun with exciting songs and games (try to see who can get the most toys in one bin in a set amount of time or sort books in order the fastest).
You can even color code or use letters and numbers to help your children put things where they belong and bump up the education and fun factor!
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