Toy organization for small spaces can be such a challenge! You want your kids to have their toys, but you don’t want to be staring at them all the time! Or stepping on them either!
So what should we do? Get rid of half the toys? Purchase five large toy boxes?
Of course not.
I’d love to share with you what works for my family with three young children (i.e. so many toys).
Our home is not large, and I don’t like a mess. But I’ve found a system that works for us, that just might work for you, too.
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Our Toy Storage Needs
My children are currently 4, 2 and 1, and we have the toys to prove it!
As I mentioned, we don’t have a large home, and we certainly don’t have a playroom. Our home is somewhat of a strange layout, which can make things like toy storage tricky.
Our kids don’t really play in their rooms, and their rooms are upstairs, so we really need to keep the majority of the toys accessible to them in the living areas.
So I’ve come up with some systems that work in our home, that can hopefully help in yours, too!
I’m Picky about Toys
Before we get to the organizing systems, you should know something about me.
I’m really very picky when it comes to selecting toys for my kids.
I much prefer to purchase open-ended toys.
These are toys that spark imagination, creativity, and can be used in many ways. Think blocks, dolls, toy trucks…really anything that can be used for pretend or to be built with.
The opposite to open-ended toys would be closed-ended toys.
These are generally toys with buttons and flashy lights that talk to you, and I tend to avoid them.
First of all, they’re usually annoying. But also, they often can only be played with in one particular way: Press a button and see what it does.
These toys are not meant to inspire creative thinking. They take up precious space on our toy shelves that we just don’t have.
Most importantly, they really don’t get the kind of play time as an open-ended toy gets.
Children are much more likely to play with something like Mega-Bloks again and again as opposed to a flashy-light up toy.
It might get played a few times for a few minutes each, but it’s not the long-lasting, high-quality type of play that something like playing baby dolls offers.
And that’s my soapbox…I’ll step off it now.
Toy Organization Ideas for Small Spaces
1. Cube Shelves
I love to use storage cubes in my home. I think they’re a clean look, while being really practical.
They have a pretty small footprint, which is great when trying to organize a small space.
Last year, I purchased three identical white 2×4 storage cubes. I have two in my dining room, which is where most of our toys are, and another in the living room, up against the back of the couch.
I also purchased 24 gray fabric bins (which come in six packs) to go into the shelves.
I’ve found these to be pretty sturdy over the year, even with a lot of use. Some have gotten a little wrinkled from toddlers being rough, but I figured that would happen with these.
I’m sure I’ll buy another pack of six at some point to replace a few when they get really worn.
Each gray bin contains one type of toy. For example, one holds Lego Duplos, another holds doctor kits, and another holds small cars and trucks.
These bins work great because the kids can pull them out to play, or carry them to a different spot to play.
It’s easy to clean up when all of the blocks go right back into the bin!
2. Large Baskets
For slightly larger toys, we use these great plastic baskets from Target.
They’re great for larger trucks, a doll house and the Little People’s garage.
It also makes for easy clean up because the toys can literally just be dropped right in!
3. Kitchen Toys Stay in the Cabinets
I totally love our play kitchen, and all the pieces we have for it.
As always, I’m picky when it comes to selecting toys for our home.
For the play kitchen in particular, I require that all of the kitchen toys have to fit in those kitchen cabinets.
One of the reasons I love our play kitchen is because it has so much cabinet space. (Much like an actual kitchen!) It’s one of the reasons I went with this one!
If it doesn’t fit, we either don’t need it, or we need to swap some things out.
4. Minimize Large Toys
Because we don’t have a lot of space, I generally avoid purchasing large toys for my kids. We really just don’t have the space.
By large toys, I mean things like doll strollers, indoor wagons or bikes, large dollhouses, etc. Really, anything that’s bigger than one of our toy baskets that would require its own floor space.
Of course we have some that we’ve received as gifts, and they’re really great toys. But we don’t have the floor space for many of them.
I’ll usually leave maybe two or three downstairs, and trade them out with other large toys in the attic periodically.
5. Ottoman Storage for Board Games
With my oldest turning four, we’ve recently acquired a number of board games.
I love board games and hope to teach my children to play them…so I have people to play with!
But I needed a place to put them all! I’m currently using the storage in our couch ottoman for the board games.
As we get more and need more space, I plan to move on to Busy Toddler’s pouch system for board games.
These are the pouches she recommends!
If you’re looking for an ottoman that you could use for board games or other toys, this is a beautiful one!
Relaxed Toy Rotation
One way to really manage toy organization for small spaces is to have some sort of toy rotation.
I used to be really good about toy rotation when I had one child with a fraction of the toys we have now!
I don’t have an overly organized system for toy rotation.
But this is what I do:
If I see a toy isn’t being played with at all over a good stretch of time, and I need the real estate of that toy, I quietly move it out and put it in the attic.
A few weeks or months later (or whenever the kids seem to notice and suddenly miss it!), I’ll pull it back out.
Sometimes I’ll use them in a different part of the house.
For example, our bin of Potato Heads hadn’t been touched in at least a month. I put them in the attic without saying anything about it to the kids.
Then, I needed something for my older two to do and stay engaged in one of the bedrooms while I bathed the youngest.
Bam! Those Potato Heads now live in my son’s bedroom and only get pulled out for the older two when it’s time for the baby to get his bath.
They’re engaged because they only get to play with the Potato Heads at this time. They went a while without playing with them, so it’s now a high-interest toy!
But, my point is that toy rotation doesn’t have to be scheduled and over-organized to be effective.
You just want to maintain interest in the toys…while having enough room for everything!
Other Toy Organization for Small Spaces Ideas from Amazon
Of course everyone’s home has different needs!
I found a few more really great tools for organizing toys in small spaces over on Amazon. Check these out!
Toy organization for small spaces can be manageable with the right systems in place. Try out some of these ideas to contain those toys!