Toy Organization Ideas That Take 5 Minutes or Less!

Toy Organization Ideas That Take 5 Minutes or Less!

Overwhelmed by toys but don’t have hours to sort and clean? Try these quick tips instead!

By: Marisa Torrieri Bloom

My oldest son isn’t quite 2 and 1/2, but his toy collection is taking over our house.

To be fair, I’d been warned … When I got pregnant three years ago, wiser moms with older tots told me this would happen. But because I spent so many years living in a tiny apartment in Brooklyn, I couldn’t believe I’d ever have enough toys to fill a playroom -- let alone enough to overflow into a dining room, living room, and kitchen.

Today, I find myself mired in blocks, things that jingle and ring, and dune buggies (did I mention my office floor is 80 percent covered in a foam letter quilt?).

Since I’m too busy to keep up with an intense cleaning and organizing schedule, I recently asked a few experts for “quick” organization tips -- things that take five minutes or less to do -- that can help moms like me streamline toys and have a lot more control over soft blocks, plastic pianos, and fuzzy TV characters. Here are five of their best ideas for organizing toys, and they each take about as much time as it takes to microwave a frozen dinner:

1. Create zones. Chances are, your little one likes to play with different kinds of toys -- but if you have them all piled together, your kid will get frustrated when trying to find that one thing. “Typically toys are strewn together and you’re jumping from activity to activity, and at the end of the day, you’re left with a pile of toys,” says professional organizer Diane Dunne of Dunne Organizing, based in Derby, Connecticut. What to do instead: Take five minutes to designate different areas of a playroom for different kinds of play -- a craft zone, board game zone, block zone, etc. “It keeps all the categories together, and they’ll enjoy playing more.”

2. Download labels for toy bins. While the task of organizing and sorting toys into plastic bins can seem so overwhelming that you balk at the idea of getting started, it only takes five minutes to take the first step: downloading labels online. “So many sites have free or low-cost labels,” says Dunne. She adds that labels can also be paired with photos of the type of toy that is in a particular bin (once you designate bins for different types of toys, such as stuffed animals). If you don’t have a printer handy, ordering sticker labels online also takes five minutes.

3. Color code your puzzle pieces. “Once a puzzle has been completed for the first time, flip it over so the back is now facing up,” suggests Nicole Bienfang, an Austin-area “solutions specialist” who has worked with families and individuals on self-improvement endeavors. “Color all the pieces the same color. This way if a single puzzle piece gets separated, you can easily find which puzzle it belongs to. To ensure no puzzle pieces get lost, you can also put your puzzle in a quart-size resealable bag and tuck it in the original puzzle box for safe-keeping.”

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4. Do a mini purge. “If you have just a few minutes to rifle through and dig into a bin, look for things they haven’t played with in a while, and see if there’s anything you can get rid of,” suggests Annie Irvin, a professional organizer with The Occasional Wife in Atlanta. If they haven’t played with it in six months and it’s not some kind of vintage, antique, or truly special toy, put it in a giveaway bag. Or, if they have younger siblings and you really love it, put it in a box and store it.

5. Rotate playthings. If you’re not ready to purge excess toys, take five minutes to stash those that haven’t been played with (in bins and a designated section, of course!). “If at all possible, keep only 10 to 15 toys out at once,” suggests professional organizer Stacy Erickson, owner of Home Key Organization in Seattle. “If you're keeping sets of toys out, try to keep it to two complete sets.” Or, have one small basket of toys out or a shelf with a couple of things on it, if you have very young children who won’t remember particular toys. “Think they'll get bored? It's unlikely,” says Erickson. “Toddlers focus better when there's less.”

What are your tips for organizing your child’s toys?

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a freelance writer and guitar teacher who lives with her husband and two young sons in Fairfield, Connecticut.

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