Dear Alpha Mom, I am raising four kids, from 6 months to 4 years, boys and girls. Despite the age and gender differences, they pretty much play with the same toys. When I was working full-time, I didn’t have too many issues organizing toys, because the kids were either at school or daycare most of the time. Now that I’m staying at home, so are the kids. I didn’t realize how crazy toys would drive me until today! I had toy organizers with bins, but I found it to take up too much space. Plus, the bins didn’t hold as many toys as I would like. I decided to donate it and got a cube style shelf as a replacement. It holds a lot more toys, but I still have two large containers over flowing onto the floor! I’ve thrown away the toys that are broken; my son has given some away; I’ve put some away, but there are tons of toys remaining. We have a two bedroom apartment with very, very little storage space. My living room and kids’ room looks and feels messy. It stresses me out, especially because I have to see it everyday and stumble over it every night. I stopped buying stuff, but my oldest’s birthday is around the corner, and I know presents will soon add to the clutter. What do you recommend? Marcelle, Los Angeles, California Thanks for your question Marcelle. How to store toys is a challenge moms face all across the globe. If you were to peer into the windows of households with small children from sea to sea, I’m sure you would find many moms drowning in toys. With limited storage space, you are on the right track by limiting the purchase of toys. Here are a few suggestions on how to organize toys and reclaim your house. 1. Get an Organizer That Fits Your Needs Some organizers can be very limiting. Find storage that allows you flexibility in the amount and size of toys it holds. An old fashioned toy chest is always a great choice. It can hold large or small toys and doubles up as a seat for small bottoms. You can also place shoebox sized containers in the toy chest to hold smaller items, such as puzzle pieces or action figures. If seeing the clutter is driving you crazy, a storage bin with a top may be in order. Be sure to check storage bins with tops for safety. 2. Establish Cleanup Routines It’s not too early to begin a cleanup routine. For example, before lunch all toys must be put away and stored in the proper place. Before bedtime, go through this same routine. Try things like playing the cleanup music and finishing the job before the song ends. Setting a kitchen timer is also a fun way to keep the cleanup activity time bound. Have the kids attempt to beat the buzzer and finish putting their toys away before it goes off. A good rule of thumb is to allow the kids to take out only what they can clean up in 5-7 minutes. After a while, you will have a good gauge on just how many toys can be cleaned up in this time frame. Also, you can teach the little ones to put away one toy before taking out another. 3. Make Gift Suggestions When friends and family buy gifts, they often think the biggest and loudest toy is the best toy. It is up to you to educate them on your needs. It is fine to ask grandma to contribute to your child’s college fund in lieu of lots new toys. Think about it–if you begin this process now by the time your little ones are teenagers they will have a hefty college fund in the making. There are many gift ideas other than large toys. For instance, family member can purchase passes to children’s museums, zoos or amusement parks. 4. Purge & Purge Again Add purging to your calendar once a quarter. More often if needed. Don’t wait until frustration sets in, purge on a schedule. Broken toys, toys that are no longer being played with, toys that are too oversized for your space, toys that are simple in over abundance–get rid of them. Allow those toys to find a new home, whether it’s a donation facility or a dumpster. When the children are old enough, let them have a say in picking a charity they can give their toys to and allow them to experience the joy of helping others. If you have more toys than space, there are too many toys. Purge! I hope this helps. Children should be allowed to play with toys and have loads of fun but mommy should also be allowed to have some resemblance of order and peace. I like to call it organized chaos. Let me know how the toy storage war works out for you! You can win it by following a few simple tips. xoxo Alpha Mom Hey DFTM Fam–How do you keep your toy room organized? One Response MJ January 6, 2015 I love this post. My daughters inherited toy chests from my nieces. We still need more storage options. A tall bookshelf is on our list. The gift suggestion is so on point. I definitely believe in letting family/friends no what your needs are. 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