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!

5 Hacks To Unlock The Hidden Storage In Your Home

As featured in Huffington Post

organizing hacks

I often say that there is no magic wand to get you organized.  And there isn't.  But there are a few tricks you can use to maximize the space that you already have that can seem like magic (kind of).

Clean Out Your Junk Drawers

Or your junk-closet, or junk-room.  Seriously people, you have NO IDEA how much free space you can unlock by simply going through these areas, throwing out the actual garbage and organizing what is left.

I recently reorganized a client’s kitchen and we cleared out no less than eight junk drawers.  Eight!!!  They had no idea what was inside these drawers and would waste so much time looking for their stuff. To make it worse they would then buy new stuff to replace what they couldn't find.  Where did I put that calculator? Not sure, let’s buy a new one.  Where did those chip clips go? Ummm, I don't know, but now we have to throw out all those open bags because they have gone stale.  So much money gets wasted.  So much time gets wasted.  I value my time in a very serious way and I certainly don’t have time to waste looking for things, and I’m sure you don’t either.  Clean those drawers!

Invest In Good Hangers

Okay, so by invest I really mean spend $50 to $75.  Not really much of an investment when you think about it to increase the space in your closet.  Why buy new hangers? Why not just use the mishmash of what you have collected over the years from the drycleaners, the Dollar Store and your parent’s house? Because they are ugly and they take up too much space (and I said so!)

Nice slimline hangers take up way less space in your closet, which means you have more room for your clothes (not that I'm advocating buying more clothes).  Plus, it looks really pretty and uniform when all of the hangers match.  People are 90% more likely to maintain a space that looks nice (I may have just made that statistic up but based on my experience it seems like a realistic estimate.)

Double Your Shelf Space

My two favorite ways to do this are by using bins and under the shelf baskets.  Why do I love bins? Let me count the ways. . . .

They allow you to put things in a small space without it looking messy.  They allow you to easily group like items together.  You can pull them out to easily access the contents so they double as makeshift drawers.  They come in lots of colors, patterns and materials so you can change the look of the space easily and lastly, they look nice!

Now, onto the under-the-shelf clip on baskets.  These are another great way to increase your space.  No installation required,  no damage to your existing shelf. It is easy to move them around as needed and you can find them almost anywhere.  They are great in the linen closet, pantry and bedroom closet.  

Go Vertical

I don’t know about you but I seriously dislike having things on the floor (mops, brooms, school bags, towels for the dog’s paws).  My favorite way to open up that space is to grab some wall and go vertical.  I use hooks everywhere.  My favorite are the ones from Command Brand that aren’t permanent and don’t leave marks on the wall (no affiliation or anything, I just seriously love their products).  I have one near the back door for the dog’s towel.  On the inside of the closet walls and doors for cleaning supplies, towels, oven mitts, even tank tops.  Hooks are so simple.  They remove a step from the process of cleaning up or accessing your items, no hanger to deal with, no bin to open, just hang it up and go! So easy.

I also love going vertical with paperwork.  Get those files and papers that require your attention off your desk and counters and onto the wall.  The side of your fridge, an out of sight cabinet wall, the inside of your kitchen cabinets.  These are all great spots to pop up some file folders.  You can even use the Command strips to put them up if you're a commitment-phobe like me!

Stop The Inflow Of Stuff

Ok, so this one isn't really a hack, it’s more of a philosophy to embrace. But I’m sneaking it in here anyways.  Really start  to think about the stuff that you are bringing into your home.  We all like to be prepared by having back-ups or to stock-up when one of our favorite products go on sale, but try to set limits to these purchases.  There is a trade-off.  The more you buy, the more stuff you accumulate in your home and the less space you have to live in.  It is the stress you feel when you open your kitchen cupboard only to have a box of crackers fall on your head.  Rethink your purchases. Be hyper-critical of what you bring home because we tend to fill the space we have; so it doesn’t matter how much bigger a house you’re moving to, or how many storage lockers you rent, you will fill it if you don’t curtail the influx of stuff. And the easiest space to organize is the space with nothing in it.


Happy Organizing!