Whenever I go to visit my sister (who lives in Ontario) I almost always get to help them organize some part of their house. It’s fun for me and I get to spend someone else’s money on organizing supplies. What could be better than that? A few weeks before I was to arrive my brother-in-law phoned with me a distress call saying, “help I’ve got organizational diarrhea!”. He was referencing their toy situation which was taking over their living room. Rather than repeat that conversation and to not overuse the word diarrhea in yet another post, please go back and read this post if you missed it.
In that post I initially recommended a solution for them that consisted of a sideboard with some shelves. Well two things quickly became apparent after that suggestion that required me to rethink that plan. My anticipated $500 budget was slashed to $150 (due to unexpected expenses they had) and a sideboard was simply not going to be enough storage space for their needs.
Here was my challenge:
Toys, toys, toys everywhere (although on this particular day the toy clutter wasn’t really all that bad). As you can see though not a lot of storage. The green four basket container isn’t normally kept in the living room either, it is used for hats/mitts by the front door. With all the company it ended up in the living room temporarily. This toy area is actually a formal dining room space at one end of their living room that they used to have a second table in (they also have a table in their kitchen). However after having two kids (now ages 3 and 1) they quickly realized they needed to reclaim this hardly used space for all the toys that come along with two kids. They don’t live in a big house (maybe about 900 sq feet, on just one level) so I think this was a brilliant solution. However with no boundaries and limits to the toys, they just seem to scatter everywhere, from one end of the house to the other.
What’s my #1 secret for keeping toys organized?
Don’t give kids free access to all their toys all at one time!
When kids have free access to all their toys a number of things happen:
- toy sets don’t stay together making them less interesting to play with eventually
- kids get overwhelmed easily with the volume of toys at their disposal
- because they are overwhelmed kids get bored more quickly with their toys
- kids have no place to play because the toys are taking over the floor
- clean up is frustrating because of the magnitude of mess
- imaginations are limited being surrounded by so much clutter
My sister didn’t have anywhere to tuck toys away and out of sight so that was our number one priority. We looked at many different options including many Ikea solutions. However so many were out of our price range and we really wanted to be able to fill the whole wall on the right hand side to maximize toy storage space as much as possible. We decided to go with a pantry solution because we found a great sale at Canadian Tire that would allow us to purchase two matching ones to place side by side to fill the space. Each pantry cost only $69.00 each and fit right into the budget :)
Here’s how it looked afterwards:
Now this solution isn’t going to be for everyone and for sure my sister and her hubbie would have liked to have purchased fancier cabinets however they had two options. Wait a couple of years down the line to purchase what they really wanted or purchase what they could afford now to solve their current problem immediately. It made sense to do it now in order to save their sanity and cure their organizational diarrhea. The amount of storage these units provide is incredible and most importantly as you can see in the above picture we were able to add locks to them, hola!
Here’s a picture of the inside:
Our Daddy even attached them to the wall for us to keep my nieces safe and sound!
We still need to label everything. Since I didn’t bring my label maker with me (Gasp, I know! What kind of professional am I?) I will send her some labels in the mail. My sister already had the fabric bins that we were able to repurpose and they each hold toy sets for things like Mega Blocks, dress up clothes, dolls and doll clothes, etc. We did purchase the clear shoe box containers to house additional toy sets on the left and craft supplies on the right. She even had room to store her party supplies and games on the top shelves. None of these things had homes before and it is just so cool to have them consolidated now all into one place. It’s a huge weight lifted off my sister and BIL’s shoulders.
(Barbies, Mr. Potato Head, My Little Ponies, puppets, Little People and musical instruments)
My sister can now bring out toy sets one at a time and my nieces know that when they want to play with something else they have to clean up what they were playing with first. And because it’s just one container it’s not too overwhelming for them to do. Now when toys come out it’s like they are new all over again. The girls might not have seen them in awhile and it’s exciting to discover them all over again. I’m a huge huge fan of toy rotation! Not to mention how the cabinets now serve as a limiting container to keep the toy purchases under wraps. If they get something new they’ll have to get rid of something they already own to make room.
I’m so relieved to know that they no longer suffer from this distressing organizational
diarrhea dilemma and that they are now able to enjoy the freedom and benefits having an organized space provides all without having to go into debt to do it. Success!