According to a survey commissioned by the Toy Industry Association, the average American child receives toys worth over $6500 in their lifetime, with the average household having 71 toys. A fifth of the surveyed houses had more than 100 toys, while 1 in 10 homes owned more than 200 toys! Toy clutter is clearly a universal problem.
While this looks like a ton of fun for kids, parents know it can lead to serious toy organization problems and clutter. It's all fun and games until you start tripping over toys and someone hurts themselves. Also, obviously the more toys you have in the house, the harder it is to keep them organized.
But here is the good news. According to a related study, a majority of kids (60%) play with a maximum of 10 toys from their vast collection. Of the remaining 40%, eight in ten kids play with fewer than 20 toys on repeat. This means at least 50 toys in the average household rarely get any attention.
Understanding these numbers, toy organization can get a bit easier. This post shows you 5 easy ways to tackle playroom organization, following a popular European practice known as circular purchasing.
If this term is not familiar, circular procurement is a method of purchasing - generally used by businesses - that limits the waste of resources and reduces environmental impact. The system breaks away from the take, make, use and throw away model and focuses on sustainable solutions like recycling, passing down products, and only producing high quality and durable things that will last many years.
How to Stay On Top Of Toy Organization
1. Sort out the Toys
Assuming you are like every other household in America, there are too many toys in the house already. Start your toy organization by dumping all of them on the floor and sorting them out. During this process:
- Remove any toy that's broken and not useful anymore. These will go to the throw-away pile.
- Let the kids pick 5-10 of their favorite toys.
- Put aside any toys the kids have outgrown or don’t like anymore. If they haven’t played with it in months, put it in a sell or donate pile.
- Pick 5 timeless toys you or the children would like to keep. These are things like wooden toys you've had in the family forever or mementos.
At the end of this procedure, you should have 20-30 toys tops. Then, plan to sell the outgrown stash in a garage sale or an online marketplace like Toycycle. For optimal toy organization, you’ll want to sort out toys once or twice a year to ensure kids only have what they need and want.
2. Only Buy the Essentials
Like any parent, you will be tempted to buy more toys for the kids. There is nothing wrong with this, and toys will find their way into your home anyway thanks to birthdays, holidays, aunts and uncles, and grandparents.
The only thing you can do is to be mindful of the goal. Following the law of circular purchasing, you should only buy high-quality essentials.
Buy toys that are helpful to your child such as educational toys (puzzles, blocks, STEM toys). These Bright Starts Activity Books & Rattles are durable, educational, and quite affordable. If you want to buy a toy car, train or doll, resist the offers of cheap packaged sets with multiples of the same type of item. Toy organization works best with fewer but higher quality toys.
3. Buy Quality, Sustainable Toys
Speaking of buying new toys, you should aim to only get things that will last a long time. Keep end-of-life in mind when making purchases. Does the toy look like something that can handle being banged and dropped over and over without breaking down? Can kids of different ages use it? That's the one you should get. For example, this PlanToys Baby Walker can be used by kids from ages 12 months and up as they develop grasping, walking, stacking, and building skills.
If you think about it this way, you will buy fewer plastic toys that end up in landfills and instead go for more sustainable baby toys. The toys you buy will be made of wood and other high-quality materials that stand the test of time. This way, you don't have to keep replacing toys every few months due to breakage. And these types of toys can be found in great condition used because they were made to last.
4. Employ Sound Organizing Techniques
To obtain optimal playroom toy organization, especially if your space is small, you must be smart about it and utilize the space wisely:
- Sort the toys according to type. To make it easy for kids to find and put back their toys, separate them according to type. Have a separate bin for cars, dolls, Legos, blocks, balls, pretend toys, and so on. The best bins are clear, so it's easy for your child to see what's inside. You can also use picture labels for younger kids.
- Use vertical space. Building shelves on the wall is a fantastic way to store toys off the floor, to preserve that space for playing. Once you sort out the toys and put them in their respective bins, place them on the shelves. However, the vertical space should be within reach of the kids. This will make it easy for them to pick out a toy and more importantly put it back after playing.
- Put extra small pieces in separate containers. Lego pieces, small cars, and other tiny toys are too small for bins. Get them their own designated storage like smaller containers, ziplock bags, and baskets.
5. Practice Toy Rotation
Even after selling or donating toys, you will probably still have more toys than your kids need. For this reason, toy rotation is one of the best toy organization strategies. And it ensures your child appreciates and uses every toy they have. Select half of the remaining toys - preferably their favorite ones at the moment - and store them in your vertically organized bins in the playroom. Put the other half away – in a closet, garage, or basement - so your child can't access them. In a month or two, you will exchange the two sets of toys.
When tackling small playroom organization, you only need to keep in mind three words; simple, reachable, and minimal. The kids should only have toys they love playing with at the moment; they should be able to reach them easily and also keep the room organized without your help. I know, that last bit seems like crazy talk. But if you teach kids how to clean up after themselves daily, with plenty of repetition, you’ll be able to maintain your toy organization system.