Shelving in a Montessori class is set up purposefully so that everything is easy to retrieve & put away

I was inspired to write about toy storage this week because The Container Store is offering 20% off their toy storage. Now’s the time to tame it. Toy storage can be one of those quick get organized tasks that you can get done in an hour once you’ve planned out the storage structure.

At its core, toy storage is about two things: Shelf space & bins. That’s it. If toy mess is driving you crazy, it’s primarily because you either don’t have enough shelf space or bins. The secondary reason is you have the wrong bins for toy storage. Yep, there is a right and wrong type. The final reason a lot of playrooms look hodgepodge is you get bins and shelves that companies don’t replicate when you eventually need more so you buy different ones. There are simple solutions to all of these issues and we have all of them below.

You need more shelves & bins

The reason every organizer tells you to declutter is because the main impediment to organization is just not having enough space to properly store things. It’s why organizers sound like broken records. Plus decluttering is cheaper than the inverse which is you need to buy more storage. But sometimes you can’t get rid of a ton, like with kids’ beloved toys.

So if you can’t get rid of toys, do the inverse of decluttering. Buy more homes for things. The first step is thinking about the categories you have and then what needs to be in a bin and what would just be easier sitting by itself on a shelf. From there, literally measure the width and height of toys to get an understanding of what shelves you need — and what will fit in your space.

These bins are not for kids’ toy storage

We used the image above because a Montessori classroom is set up very purposefully. Everything is on low shelves for young kids to easily get things on their own and put things back without their teachers’ help. There are not four puzzles stacked on each other making it impossible to get the one on the bottom. It’s also on low shelves in open bins and trays so that kids can SEE what’s there. This is the best way to think about your own children’s storage.

Toy chests are almost always a disaster for toy storage. Kids’ organizing styles are not fully formed yet. We never have them take our organizing style quiz for obvious reasons! But we’ve found in our field research that when young, people tend to have very visual memories. When something is out of sight, it’s often out of mind. They’re almost all like Organics and Smarts. Buy opaque bins for things you don’t want your kids to remember exist or see.

As a result, we tend to organize playrooms and toy storage as if they’re Organics and Smarts. We use open shelves when possible as well as open and transparent bins. Always get shelves that are usable. We put hooks all over in easy to access places for kids to hang things up. We also use the 1-Step rule with toy rooms. The more steps you make putting away or grabbing toys, the less likely a child will put things away or grab the goy.

Buy bins from bin stores

Our advice to “Buy Bins from Bin Stores” sounds almost idiotic. BUT, it isn’t. Furniture stores are not in the business of storage. It’s kind of an add-on to their main business of selling storage. They change up their products’ look and style frequently to get new sales. It’s the way of the world. The Container Store sells containers so when a product is a good seller, they keep it for a LONG TIME. It’s why we shop there for our clients’ needs whenever it’s possible. So, go make your day, buy the right bins and don’t pay full price. I think their 20% off sale lasts until March 7th.

Tame toys! Save up to 20% on Toy Storage.

The problem is that when they do this, they also frequently change up the accessories and bins that coordinate with the furniture. So, right when you’re looking to buy two more bins to house your growing brood’s toy collections, they don’t have those exact bins or color you need. It happens to almost every parent.

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