If you rotate toys then there is a major dilemma that you have to solve, what is your toy storage solution going to be?!
Toy Rotation People Fall into Two Camps Usually
They keep everything pre-sorted into big storage bins that they occasionally go through and rotate out toys that are no longer being used or children have outgrown and cycle in new toys that they have received for birthdays and holidays.
This is a great system for toy rotations if you don’t want to spend a lot of time on your toy rotation when you do it. You just have bins that are ready to go. You empty one out, put the toys on the shelf. you put everything you took off the shelf into the bin and you put the bin away. Simple, fast, effective.
I personally don’t have any experience with this method of toy storage.
These people like to keep their toy storage organized by type of toy so all of the musical instruments together and all of the transportation vehicles together, so on and so on. Then you source from each of your various bins until your shelves are full.
As someone who likes to build tinker trays and use our materials in a lot of different ways this toy storage just makes more sense for me.
I choose instead to do a custom rotation every time I rotate. It does take longer but I keep our toy storage as well organized as possible to make the process go as smooth as possible!
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My Top 10 Tips for Toy Storage Success for Smooth Toy Rotations
1. Have a Dedicated Space seems obvious…
In my experience, the most common toy storage solution is a toy closet, but I have also heard of a lot of families that keep their out of rotation toys in big bins either in the basement or the garage.
So long as you have a space set aside for toy storage and it’s not spread out over the whole house and you’re constantly having to run from one room to the other then you should be good
Okay let’s take a deeper dive into my specific toy storage situation
A Toy Closet isn’t the only option but it’s been my go-to for years and I LOVE it!
I keep our out of rotation toys in a closet that we have dubbed the toy closet. Right now it’s in the guest bedroom, but really any closet would work, as long as it’s not in their bedroom because I tend to do rotations after they go to bed.
On one side of the closet is where I keep most of toys that we use for rotation.
On the other side of the closet, I keep toys that are less frequently rotated in and/or they are large and bulky.
2. Use some toys as Decor Pieces
Some toys have that classic toy harm and some toys are just beautiful. There is nothing saying you have to keep these toys out of sight. You spent all that money on a rainbow stacker put that thing on display! You think that shapes sorter could be a really cute bookend? Do it! Yes it’s not with the rest of your toys but odds are you won’t forget that it’s there why not have it out where it adds a little more whimsy to say a playroom or your kid’s room?!
An example of toys as decor in our guest room
Yes, the space feels very young because of it. You could choose to store these items in a child’s bedroom on their bookshelves. I chose our guest room as it also acts as our TV room so we are in and out of this room all the time and I like the shelves to feel like we are living in the space not just look at and never touch.
3. Filing Cabinets are HUGE
So you don’t have a closet or an out-of-the-way location to keep toys in let me let you in on a little secret that you may not be aware of but filing cabinets are surprisingly roomy. They have so much storage space in them, way more than you think. So if you can find a filing cabinet and a corner to put it in you suddenly have a very reasonable amount of storage space that is still relatively easy to get into!
Also, drawers are ALWAYS going to be easier than stacks so just take that into consideration.
How I use a filing cabinet for extra toy storage
I recently added a filing cabinet where I keep toys that are better stored in their original packaging and play things that we don’t include in the rotation as much. So things for quiet time, felt board pieces, activity books, that kind of thing.
4. Use Bins that Stack Nicely
I’m a big proponent of finding storage boxes that you like not just scavenging odd things you have in your house. Scavenging works for a while but eventually, it’s going to get frustrating shuffling boxes around and dealing with avalanches. So if you use containers that are designed to stack on each other it just leads to a more seamless experience when you are moving bins around.
The types of bins I personally prefer for toy storage
I make use of a few different storage bins to keep our toy storage organized. Up at the top you can see, I have the shoebox-sized boxes where I keep a lot of smaller toys and our animal collection. Below that I have some space for puzzles and larger toys. Then I have three drawer organizers for loose parts and below that I have a more medium-sized 12 qt bin where I keep medium-sized toys and toy categories like music or doll figures.
5. Use Clear Bins
Odds are wherever you’re keeping your toys it’s not in the main part of your house. You don’t see it all day every day, so I highly recommend clear bins as it makes it easier to be able to just look into your space and say ‘that’s the bin I need’ because I can see that it’s the musical instrument bin versus having to read labels or try and remember! I did end up labeling everything because I’m extra like that and it makes me happy. ;D It’s the little joys in life!
Take a look inside of our toy storage bins
In our smaller bins we keep our animal collection, which is split between three bins and as it grows we’ll probably need to expand beyond those three bin.
The other smaller bins contain our extra dance scarves, transportation vehicles, various magnets, and magnetic activities, and our budding Lego collection that will very quickly outgrow its bin, and I am aware of that and seeking a solution…
We also have our quiet time bins in these smaller shoeboxes but I’m looking to change them over to a different shape of box. I’m finding I have activities I would like to put in the quiet time bins that don’t fit in the shoebox style box. I will keep you updated when I figure out a better solution.
The medium toy storage bins or organized by the type of toy that you would be looking for, we currently have a
- Role play
- Musical instrument
- Barbie dolls and Polly Pockets
- Various dolls figures, including magnetic dress-up dolls
- Plastic baby toys
- Miscellaneous baby toys so things like rattles and crinkle paper and teethers etc,
- Tiny toddler find motor
- Preschooler fine motor
Larger items like our bus, cash register, lock boxes, and the hammer bench float around as space opens up for them. they tend to live to the right of the bins as that part of the shelf is tucked behind the wall a bit and bins don’t work well over there but the individual objects are easy enough to get in and out.
6. Use Pouches/Pencil cases inside larger bins
Bins, boxes, and bags…some people might think that I have a storage container problem. I like to think of it more of ‘I like to easily find what I’m looking for without having to rifle through massive bins’. So I keep little pouches/boxes inside of my bigger bins with specific toys stored in them so that I can easily grab that specific toy.
How I use pencil boxes and bags for toy storage
For example the center bin below I have our dolls and magnetic dress-up dolls I have all the magnetic clothes stored in pencil cases so that all of the princess dresses are together or all of the sports outfits are together then it’s just as easy as grabbing the right doll to go with the right bin and you’re done.
7. Use Drawers for Loose Parts
I highly recommend storing your loose parts in smaller drawers the very nature of lots of little parts needs more organization or you’ll never find anything! I have found keeping them organized by kind in three drawer organizers so that I don’t have to unstack and restock bins all the time has been the best solution for loose parts.
What my loose parts storages solution looks like right now…
I’m constantly digging into our loose parts collection for various activities and invitations so I want these to be extremely accessible. For more specific loose parts that are say seasonally themed, I keep those in little pencil pouches in a different drawer. They are easy to find if I for some reason need jingle bells in July.
Our most used items live on the first shelf of our wire rack in our toy closet. This toy storage is bound to grow as I continue to add items …I have my eyes set on two new sets that I’m itching to add right now…
I have three of the three drawer organizers. This system is working beautifully for the various coins, rings, wool balls, and gems. Then I have two drawers for more thematic parts like seashells and stars.
The last set of three drawers are actually not being used for loose parts at this time, they house our small dino collection, card games, and magnets. I think those will be getting redistributed elsewhere soon as our loose parts collection is only growing!
Our DIY Grapat Inspired Loose Parts are kept in our Maple + Lark jars on our bookshelves on display all the time because both the jars and the loose parts are too pretty to put away
8. Some toys just do better in their original boxes
Occasionally you will come across a toy that was originally packaged in its best way to be stored. It’s rare but it does happen So sometimes it’s worth keeping the box. Not that I really need to try that hard to convince you to keep the box. If you are like me, I know you have a box full of boxes somewhere in your house…you know the value of a good box!
Some of our toys storage still in original packaging
I chose to put these toys in one of the filing cabinet drawers as I can easily access them all and when one is removed I don’t have to re-stack or rearrange everytime.
9. Rotate or Donate Toys as they Outgrow them…
Kids will play with most anything, but they do reach a point where they just aren’t as interested in rattles or teethers. Sure they might shake them around a couple times but then they’re going to get sat in a corner and forgotten. So instead of dedicating space to toys that your kids have outgrown pack those away the same way you would pack away baby clothes!
What this looks like for our toy storage
I have a few larger baby toys still floating around the space and I am in that no man’s land of deciding if its time to pack them away, I’ve yet to decide and I am giving myself time to decide, but there are a few items that are definitely on their way out.
Toy storage will look different for everyone dependent on sooooooooo many different factors.
I share our toy storage set up not to make anyone feel like they need everything we have or that their kids don’t have enough. Know that you know your kids and your family situation better than anyone and only YOU know what is best for you.
I share our toy storage for all the other type A mamas out there that just want to be able to find the darn xylophone mallet or keep the little people from taking over the living room or maybe just once to TRY not to lose every piece of that puzzle.
I share our toy storage solutions for all the mamas drowning in loose parts, animal figures, and tiny dolls, who KNOW there has to be a better way.
I share our toy storage closet for inspiration and to tell you that you CAN do it and you CAN maintain it! You got this mama!
And Finally, Last but not Least…
10. Puzzles are a Storage Nightmare
It doesn’t matter what you do. Puzzles are never going to be easy to store. Accept that fact now and you’ll be happier. Some people swear by big clear pouches that at least keep pieces together. Some people prefer puzzle racks where they can slide the puzzles in and out and some people will even go as far as putting Velcro dots underneath each individual piece to keep it attached to the tray. I think there are merits to each of these options it just started depends on what your puzzle collection looks like.
Also, puzzle storage is even harder when you have multiple kids at varying ages of puzzle proficiency So when you start adding in jigsaws for older kids on top of chunky puzzles for toddlers it’s just a nightmare no matter what and I think this is probably the one area of your toy storage that is going to need constant revision.
How we store our puzzles
I stack our puzzles on the top shelf of our wire rack in our toy closet. It’s not particularly user-friendly, but it allows for the maximum number of puzzles taking up the least amount of space.
Bitty is just now becoming interested in puzzles so I have a feeling that our puzzle collection will be growing more over the next couple of years and we may need to end up moving puzzles to a different location or solution as we add more…
Toy Storage can feel Daunting and Overwhelming…
I hope that even just one of these tips helped you or maybe this is like those clean with me videos on youtube and now you have the ambition to finally tackle your toy storage! Leave any questions you have down below and if you need a Type A mama to hold your hand through the process find me on Instagram! I gotcha!
2 Replies to “Top 10 Tips to Toy Storage Success and Easier Toy Rotations”
Would love to know how many toys you pull and how to decide which toys to pull together when it’s time to rotate?
It really depends on the age of the child and if you are setting the space for multiple ages, and how often you intend to rotate. While they are young (under 3) I would say that 8 items is a good number. As they get older you may find a few more items you are wanting to always have out (basic blocks, babydolls, playfood) so your number of toys out may grow a bit. A shelf for a toddler is going to look drastically different than a shelf for a preschooler or school-aged kid.
I currently set our playroom up for 2 kids (2.5 and 5 years old) I have anywhere from 12 -18 items in the room (including things that never rotate out like play silks, woodenblocks, playfood etc) If you want a better look at OUR rotations I have a few posts that show out space. the most recent one is this https://mamameganallysa.com/living-room-playroom-for-two/
As for what items to pull that is highly child dependent. What are their interests, what fine motor skills are they working on, what schemeas are they in right now and then build your selection with those things in mind. If you want something more checklistish I try and do : a roleplay item, a puzzle, a fine motor toy, a vehicle, a loosepart/open ended item, animal figures, and some fidget toys after that I fill in with anything that hasn’t been out in a while!
Hope that helps some!