5 Things You Need To Know About Toy Organization

As featured on Huffington Post

toy organization

I absolutely love organizing toys, I find it one of the most satisfying projects.  I also absolutely hate organizing toys, because it can be soooo frustrating.  I feel like if you're a parent and reading this you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the same feeling that you get right after you spend hours getting the house tidy, and everything is put away and the floors are clean and it has that nice fresh feeling to it. . . and then the kids come home.  And it is all ruined.  Instantly.  Organizing toys is kind of like that, all your hard work can go right down the drain before your eyes.  

Now, I’m not saying that playroom disaster is inevitable (even though it kind of is) I’m just saying that you need to have realistic expectations of the outcome.  So with all that being said, here are 5 things that this Professional Organizer wants you to know about organizing toys.

1. This Isn't A One Shot Deal

Remember that movie “Groundhog Day”, the one where Bill Murray relives the same day over and over again? Well, it’s kind of like that. Kids needs change and interests change over time. So you're going to have to do this again and again. The way that I organized toys for my older kids when they were babies and toddlers is quite different for the way I have them now at age (almost) 5 and 7.  And then when you throw my 11 month old into the mix all bets are off.  Be prepared that you’re going to have to adjust as you go and also as they grow.

2. You're Going To Piss Off Your Kids

Well, maybe.  Unless they’re like my kids and have become accustomed to me uprooting their toy system on a regular basis.  Your kids will probably be annoyed, but I can almost guarantee that they will play better with the stuff they have once your have curated their collection and they can actually find what they're looking for.  Kids don’t need a lot of toys or games to play happily and productively.  Just look at what happens every time you give them a giant cardboard box. They tap into their creative little minds and happily play with it for hours, if not days.  So take solace in the fact that organizing their toys into a way that makes sense will pay off in the long run.

3. You May Have To Be Sneaky

I'm not usually an advocate for getting rid of people’s stuff behind their back and you should try to let them play a role in some of the decision making process of what stays and what goes.  But you may have to throw some actual stuff out without telling them. Let's just keep in mind that their brains are not fully developed yet so their ability to make decisions about what to keep/donate may not be reasoned. Heck most adults can barely make those decisions.  You do want to consult with them and have them be engaged in the process but just remember who the adult is in the situation.

4. Set Realistic Expectations

My 8 month old knows exactly where to put her toys back when she's done playing with them.  Said NO ONE EVER! Micro-organizing your baby’s toys is just asking for trouble.  All kids do at that age is put things in their mouths and dump their toys out of the bins that you so diligently set up.  So while it’s perfectly realistic to expect a 4 year old to put the ‘pretend play’ items back in the right spot, or a 6 year old to put his action figures back in their bin, the same is obviously not true of the really little ones.  I like to try and keep baby/toddler stuff accessible and at their level and not stress too much about if their blocks are commingling with their animals.

5. Don’t Believe Everything You See On Pinterest

While I love Pinterest for its amazing ideas and awesome inspiration it can sometimes be a bit too good to be true.  Headlines like ‘10 Genius Toy Organization Hacks”  and “Super Easy DIY Toy Organization” can be a bit misleading.  Not everything works for everyone and I often find that when my clients try some of these pinterest-perfect ideas it leads to feeling of disappointment and failure.   Just because a system works for someone else doesn’t mean that it will work for you and your family.  Try to think critically about the way your kids play with their toys and if this pretty image you’re seeing will work in the space that you have.  Take different element of different ideas and morph it into something that makes sense for you.

Good Luck & Happy Organizing!

4 Easy Ways to Stay Organized This Holiday Season

easy ways to stay organized this holiday season

As seen in Huffington Post

I love, love, love the holiday season, but I do not enjoy all the additional stuff it brings into my home.  If you’re looking to spread the holiday cheer without adding clutter I put together some great alternatives to traditional gifts that you can find here.

However, if you are past that point and know that you, your kids, your dog and your gerbil will be receiving an insane amount of presents this year, you’re going to need a strategy to deal with all of those things without your home looking like a department store.

Trust me, I feel your pain.  I know I’ve mentioned this before  but since we celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas the amount of new items that find their way into my home can be a bit overwhelming.  Especially with three kids in the mix.  

One In One Out

Tough rule, I know.  But it doesn’t matter how organized you are, if you have too much in your home you'll never be able to maintain it and it will always feel disorganized.

However this can be a great way to help your children learn the value of charity.  I try to frame it that they are so lucky to be getting all these new toys, but other kids are not so lucky, so we pick some toys that we aren’t playing with anymore so that other kids can have a chance with them.  Look in your area for places that will accept gently used toys and donate them.

Unfortunately you need to apply the same rule to the adults in the house; while that new scarf is super soft and beautiful I bet you have at least one in your collection that has either seen better days or that you don’t wear anymore.  Get it out of there.

Put It Back

One of the most important steps in maintaining an organized space is to put it back.  I go into it in more detail here  but it is a step that can be easily overlooked during the holiday season.  We are so excited to try on our new clothes or play that new video game or test out that new toy that before we know there is just stuff. Everywhere.  Enjoy your the new additions but don’t let all of the excitement get the best of you.  Once you’re done put it back.

Find A Home For It

This one goes hand in hand with the ‘put it back rule’, but sometimes it can be really hard to put something away if you don’t know where it goes.  Find a spot that makes sense for you.  Especially if this new item is something that you will use frequently in the coming weeks.  You want a space for it that is accessible and works with your routine.  This may require you to go through some of your existing stuff and declutter a bit.  I know you want to use that fancy new mug with great mouth feel that you just received but if your cupboard is already bursting at the seams you won’t have a place to put it.

Regift It

I can already hear the groans and gasps at this suggestion.  As good as the gift giver's intention may have been, sometimes they just miss the mark.  Think of the space in your home as valuable real estate.  Why waste that space on something that you don’t want, need, or love?

There is nothing wrong with repurposing that gift for someone else.  As long as you do it right:

  • Put a little post-it on the bottom of the gift with the name of who gave it to you

  • Only regift items that are in their original packaging and have not been opened

  • Only regift it to someone who you genuinely feel will appreciate it

  • Put it in a new gift bag/re-wrap it.  Nothing says “I regifted this” like a ratty gift bag and crumpled tissue paper.

  • Tell the recipient.  If you’re really feeling bad about regifting it then simply give it to someone that you feel would appreciate it and let them know where it came from.  ‘My aunt Sally got my this beautiful coloring book, but it’s not really my thing.  I thought you would enjoy using it’ Simple. Honest. Easy.

  • Donate it.  If all else fails, get it out of your home and donate it.  


Do you have an organizing issue you need to tackle? Get in touch with me here  and tell me about it.  Don’t forget to follow my blog  for the latest organizing advice.

Happy Holidays and Happy Organizing!