Note from Hint Mama: Toy purging is on my to do-list. But in the meantime, I’m in dire need of some additional – and affordable – toy storage options. Luckily, I now have a two-hint series on toy storage from Hint Mama contributor Crystal Sabalaske, a mom and professional organizer, to help me. Her first toy storage hint is below.
When I first found out I was pregnant way back in 2003, I couldn’t wait to register for the “baby” essentials. I selected items other moms recommended and picked out a few cute storage baskets for my daughter’s changing table.
What I didn’t account for, at the time, was the storage I would eventually need for the toys that quickly overtook our house. When my son arrived 19 months after my daughter was born, the issue of “where to store the toys” became even more problematic.
If you’re running into this problem too, today’s hint consists of four tips for storing (i.e. controlling the spread of) toys in your house that I learned through experience.
1. Store toys where you use them. Many people assume that because I am a professional organizer my house is super-organized and everything has a place. Well, everything does have a place, but when it comes to toy storage, those places are spread all throughout my house, and that’s what many people find shocking.
We don’t have one room dedicated to toys, and we never did. I’m not a big fan of running up and down the stairs a 100 times a day to put stuff back in some corner of another room, so I’ve always stored toys in the rooms where we use them. Balls are stored in our basement because we have a big open space there to play with them. Board games are kept in the basement and the den because those are two rooms where we have carpet, and we always play games on the floor instead of sitting at a table. Dolls are in the guest bedroom because my daughter likes to use the daybed as a “house,” and my son keeps his Legos in his room.
2. Make sure your toy storage is movable. My daughter has moved her dolls countless times. She used to keep them in her room. Then we moved them to the basement, and now they’re in the guest room. Luckily, we were able to move them easily since they are stored in clear plastic storage containers with lids. The bottom line: Whatever you choose to store toys in needs to be easily transportable in case you have to make accommodations for similar moves and things like simultaneous playdates. Your son wants to set up a race track and your daughter wants to play Barbies? No problem – just move the racetrack to another room.
3. Focus on function. Instead of looking for a storage option in a particular color or material, first look for a storage item that solves the problem. Is it possible to find a pink fabric bin to store Play-Doh? Absolutely, but does it make any sense to store something messy inside something fabric? No. Play-Doh is better suited for a plastic container with a lid that can be wiped clean. Other questions to consider as you’re deciding on storage options: Will your child be able to open and close the bin himself? Can your little one carry the doll case across the room without help? Will the stacking drawers hold a rapidly expanding collection of action figures? Function should always trump the color and cuteness factors.
4. Cost is a consideration. I’ll be the first person to tell you that Pottery Barn and Land of Nod offer some fabulous storage options, but they can also be costly. I recommend only spending money on expensive storage options if you can find ways to repurpose them in the future, and for this reason, be wary of personalizing storage containers for certain functions like storing “bath toys” as Hint Mama learned firsthand. If you’re going to shell out the money for an expensive toy box that your kids will only use for two years and you can’t see yourself using it in the future to store other items like blankets or beach towels, then you might be better off finding a cheaper alternative.
So what are some of my favorite budget-friendly toy storage options? Stay tuned for a follow-up hint on that very subject. In the meantime, what are your toy storage tips and questions? Share them below.
Crystal Sabalaske, professional organizer and owner of Cluttershrink, has been helping people get organized in their homes and offices for the past 12 years. She has appeared on several episodes of HGTV’s series, Mission: Organization, and her organizing tips have appeared in national publications such as Family Fun, Parents, and Women’s Health magazines. Crystal lives in Bucks County, PA, with her 9 year-old daughter and 7-year-old son. Follow her tips on Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.