How to Declutter, Store and Organize Kid’s Toys

Overwhelmed with toy clutter? Learn how to declutter, store, and organize kid’s toys with these easy-to-implement systems and strategies. 

woman organizing kids toys

Kids’ toy organization can be daunting, especially when every nook and cranny in your home is seemingly overflowing with colorful plastic, stray Legos, and misplaced puzzle pieces. 

Organizing toys is not only beneficial to you as a parent for keeping the home clean and clutter-free, but it is also great for kids:

  • Emphasizes responsibility.
  • Gives the child attainable goals to achieve.
  • Teaches them the value of work.
  • Allows the parent to give praise for hard work.
  • Introduces them to the idea of community.

Let’s dive into a range of effective yet practical strategies for decluttering and categorization, explore storage solutions, and introduce methods to maintain a sense of novelty in playtime while keeping toy accumulation to a minimum.

Let’s conquer the “toypocalypse” once and for all!

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How to Declutter Toys

Before we discuss the best way to organize toys, let’s address the elephant—or perhaps the stuffed elephant—in the room: not all toys deserve a permanent residence in your home. 

Organizing kids’ toys is always easier when there are fewer of them to worry about, so a great way to declutter toys is by conducting a thorough yet fair toy purge. Here are the steps:

1. Schedule a Time:

young child learning how to organize kid's toys

Block out an hour or two. You can decide if you want to have the kids around as decluttering kids’ toys is not always their favorite experience. Explaining the finer points of toy minimalism to a toddler will likely be an exercise in futility. However, for slightly older kids, it can foster responsibility and develop their sense of pride when they help donate unused toys.

2. Gather All Toys:

Toys gathered in one area.

Pick a closet, shelf, or area in the home and gather the toys. You can also gather every toy lurking in closets, under beds, and behind furniture, and gather them all in one spot. You can choose to do this in phases or all at once depending on the amount of time or patience you have. You might be surprised by just how many toys you have accumulated!

3. Separate Into Piles:

Divide your toy mountain into three piles – keep, donate, and toss.

Box of toys for donation.
  • “Keep” should house well-loved items, age-appropriate toys, and those that encourage creativity and can be used for a long time. 
  • The “donate” pile welcomes gently used but outgrown toys that would be perfect for a new life at a local daycare or preschool, children’s charity, or thrift store. 
  • Finally, the “toss” pile is for broken toys, missing pieces, and anything unfit to donate. 
  • Can’t decide on a toy’s fate? Stick it in a “purgatory” box and revisit it in a few months. If its absence goes unnoticed, you can donate it with a clear conscience.

How to Categorize Toys

Now that you have streamlined your toy collection, it’s time to create a system that keeps things organized and accessible. Here are my best tips for organizing toys via categorization

Organizing toys in baskets.
  • Group by Type: Think puzzles with puzzles, dolls with dolls, etc. This makes it easier for kids to find what they’re looking for and clean up when they are done. 
  • Activity-Based Grouping: Instead of grouping by type, you can also group toys that have a similar function. For example, arts and crafts supplies can live together, while puzzles and board games can get their own designated space. 
  • Group by Age: Children’s toy preferences will also evolve as they grow. If you have children of different age groups, consider having separate storage areas for the toys that each one enjoys using.

How to Store Toys

Now that the toys have been decluttered and categorized, it’s time to find somewhere to put them. Here are my top recommendations for how to store kids toys

Toys being organized in clear bins.
  • Clear Bins: Clear bins are especially great for smaller toys because they allow kids to see what’s inside, fostering independence and reducing the need to dump everything out in a fit of toy-hunting frustration.
  • Baskets: Plush toys and stuffed animals are stored particularly well in woven baskets or fabric bins, adding a touch of cozy charm to your storage situation.
  • Bags: Zip-top bags are the best way to store toys with multiple pieces, like puzzles and board games.
  • Labeling: Labels are your secret weapon. Using pictures, words, or a combination of both to identify the contents of each bin is especially helpful for children who can’t read yet, and a great way to help kids find toys and know where to put them back again. 

Where to Store Toys

Where you store your kids’ toys can greatly impact how well your system works. Here are some of my favorite storage locations:

Toys being stored in cubbies in a playroom.
  • Living Room: Toys always seem to end up in the living room whether you like it or not, so storing a few of them in the TV console or a repurposed ottoman helps keep them out of sight while also allowing for easy access during playtime.
  • Bedroom: A toy box or small basket in your child’s room can hold a few favorites, while you can store more toys in unused closet space or a on bookshelf or cubby fitted with bins.
  • Playroom: If you have a dedicated den or playroom, use shelves, cubbies, and bins with labels to categorize and store toys. This creates a designated play zone and helps to keep the rest of the house (relatively) toy-free.

The Art of Toy Rotation

Kids can get bored easily, sometimes leading to the dreaded “I have nothing to play with!” meltdown. Toy rotation is a great way to keep things fresh without buying anything new!

Toys rotated and labeled for easy organization.

Every few weeks, simply swap some toys in your living room or playroom with toys from another location. This creates a sense of novelty and keeps playtime exciting while ensuring that every toy they own gets its fair share of playtime. 

If you have an abundance of toys, you can also rotate some to a storage room, attic, or basement so they are completely out of the child’s site, making them much more novel when you rotate them back into use

Small Habits for Toy Organization

If a complete overhaul of your organization system seems too daunting or time-consuming, don’t worry. Here are some small habits that can integrate toy organization into your daily lifestyle

Family cleaning and organizing kids' toys.
  • Cleanup routine: Establish a simple after-play cleanup routine. Dedicate a few minutes at the end of playtime to putting toys back in their designated spots. To make it more fun for everyone, turn it into a game or sing a silly cleanup song.
  • Lead by example: Kids often learn by observation. If they see you putting things away and keeping the house organized, they are more likely to follow suit.
  • The one-minute tidy-up: Can’t seem to handle a full-blown cleanup session? Set a timer and have everyone race to put away as many toys as possible. You will be surprised at how much you can accomplish in 60 seconds!
  • Rethink gifts: To prevent a never-ending accumulation of toys, consider recommending experiential gifts, like tickets to museums, shows, or the zoo, rather than physical items when friends and family inquire about what to buy for birthdays or holidays.
  • One for one: Another way to keep the toy count down is to have kids give away one toy for every new one they acquire. You can donate to a local charity and make them part of the process, saving you from more toy clutter and teaching them valuable life skills. 

Embracing Imperfection

Remember, parents, you are not alone in the battle against toy clutter! Even the most organized home will occasionally look like a toy tornado passed through, and that’s okay – after all, a little chaos is part of what makes childhood fun. 

Woman playing with a kid and blocks.

Don’t get discouraged if your system is not always perfect. The goal is not to have a spotless house but to find something that works for your family and makes keeping your living space organized a little bit easier.

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Anika Gandhi is on a mission to declutter and organize all the things around her and is here to inspire and encourage you to do the same!

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