Feature Article: Organizing Your Kids’ Toys and Books.

As you know, when your children grow, their toys change. At least twice a year, go through every inch of your kids’ playroom or bedroom, sorting and organizing their playthings. I have found this to be infinitely easier when the kids are NOT around. This is a chore where you really don’t want their help, because you are going to be getting rid of their things. Your child may not have touched a toy in a year, but the minute you put it in the charity pile, a wail will rise up. Evaluate each toy individually for age-appropriateness and usage and function. If your kids have outgrown it—OUT! If they never play with it—OUT! If it’s too complicated—OUT—in a box stored away for when they get older. If you absolutely must keep a toy for memory’s sake, limit yourself to a very few precious objects and place them in your child’s treasure box. It’s difficult for a child to find something to play with when faced with a myriad of outgrown, difficult, and/or disliked toys. Make it easier on them and yourself by eliminating some of the less desirable choices.

Organizing kid toys. Now that you have the toys pared down to what you are going to keep, you must design a plan for the toys to actually be played with. If your kids can’t see a toy, they don’t think to look for it, and will soon forget it exists (you will probably discover some forgotten treasures in the sorting process). Take advantage of any available vertical wall space by installing adjustable shelves. We left more room between the floor and the first shelf to accommodate larger items. The other shelves were placed around eighteen inches apart. For the odd areas under the windows, we purchased bins, carts, and storage units from Target. Once you have your organizing equipment, group the toys in a logical order based on type. Invest $30 in a nicer grade labeler, so you can print and stick custom labels to the edge of the shelves, indicating what goes there. 

We have large bins (no lid) for the following:
• Construction equipment
• Large animals
• Dress up
• Balls and outside toys

We have medium bins (no lid) for the following:
• Toy weapons and vehicles
• Superhero accessories
• Hot wheels track and accessories
• Musical instruments
• Legos
• Books
• Blocks
• Dinosaurs
• Stuffed animals

We have small bins for the following:
• Plastic play animals
• Scratch paper
• Stickers
• Blocks
• Pegs
• Puppets
• Electronic games
• Electronic books

We have two large rolling carts with three drawers each. One contains:
• Large superhero characters
• Medium superhero characters
• Small superhero characters

The second set of drawers contains:
• Small superhero pieces (discs, small plastic weapons used by superheros)
• Sets of small items in individual Sandwich Baggies (Ninja Turtles with their own things, Wrestlers with their folding chairs and champion belts, etc.)
• Lace up sets

We used to have a third set of drawers in a rolling cart that had Barbies, Barbie clothing, and Barbie equipment, but my nine-year-old Meagan announced she was too old for them. So I secretly bagged up her well-worn dolls and put them in the crawl space. Some day, she will thank me for saving her old Barbies (I hope). If not—OUT!

We keep puzzles, games, art supplies, crafts, drawing materials, spacecraft, etc. on the shelves with no bin.

Library books. How many times have you taken your child to the library to check out books, accidentally combined them with their own books, forget they were on the bookshelf, and owe lots of money when you finally discovered and returned them? Simple solution: keep a separate tote for library books. The next time you go to a conference, keep the cheesy bag you get to carry around your materials. Take it to the library with you and immediately put your checked books inside to transport home. Train your kids to always replace library books after reading them into the special book bag. My daughter Meagan has a separate compartment in her school backpack just for school library books that need to be kept separately and returned. With these methods, you will never again have to rummage through a hundred books on your kids’ shelves to find the borrowed ones.

Make it a productive day! ™

(C) Copyright 2005 Laura Stack, MBA, CSP. All rights reserved. Portions of this newsletter may be reprinted in your organization or association newsletter, provided the following credit line is present:

"Laura M. Stack, MBA, CSP, is "The Productivity Pro"® and the author of Leave the Office Earlier. She presents keynotes and seminars on time management, information overload, and personal productivity. Contact her at 303-471-7401 or [email protected]."