My Blog = My Life + [homemaking]

Toy Storage For Small Spaces

The amount of actual living space in our house is quite small, and since our kids prefer to play near Mommy (and I prefer to keep them within ear shot so I can break up squabbles), storing our toys in the main living area, adjacent to the kitchen, proved to be both wise and aesthetically pleasing! It's hard to tell at first glance, but between the baker's table and our bookshelf, 90% of the toys in our home are stored away.

My favorite feature of the baker's table (which doubles as an end table for the couch), is the swooping drawer. Designed to store large bags of flour and sugar, the deep sections are perfect for storing bulkier toys like trucks, teddies, and balls. Above the deep drawer is a smaller pull-out which we use to store puzzles and flat-laying games.

Inside our bookshelf cupboards are four bins I picked up from the Dollar Store. They keep the smaller, most used toys organized. One bin is for dolls and their accessories, the second is for toy food and play kitchen utensils, the third bin stores Mr. Potato Head parts, and the fourth stores Mega blocks.

The bin solution has been an excellent tool for teaching our two-year-old to clean up after herself. When she's tired of playing with dolls and wants to build a tower out of Mega Blocks instead, she first has to put away all of her dolly things and slide the bin back onto the shelf. She's learning that "When we take something out, we put it back."

The great thing about using small bins for storage is that it makes the cleaning-up process seem less daunting to a child. Even our 1 year-old can hold his attention long enough to finish putting all the Mega Blocks into a bin! A few of the bigger toys (a plastic shopping cart, doll carrier, and a ride-on toy) are stored in their bedroom closets and can be pulled out upon request.

Once in a while someone will comment on how few toys we have in our home. I like to think that we have enough. Space issues aside, our children really don't care for playing with "real" toys all that much. They prefer to play in the sandbox, or with everyday items like spoons, boxes, canning jar rings, blankets, and hats. Keeping toys to a minimum does several good things:

1. It increases our children's imagination and creativity. Do you know how many different ways you can use a box?!
2. It minimizes their entitlement mentality. We have never taken our children toy shopping or picked one up while they were with us. Hence, I can easily go shopping at Wal-mart without them begging for another teddy bear or a new ball. The more we have, the more we want.
3. It reduces the clutter in our home. Less cleaning, more room to play with the toys they already have.
4. Slim picking with toys creates many opportunities to teach sharing, as a wise Mom said on our Facebook page.
5. Fewer toys teaches our children that work can be fun! With less toys to distract them, we can spend more time doing constructive things together like making dinner, washing the car, or weeding the garden.

How's the toy situation in your home? Have you found a good method for keeping it all organized? I'd love to hear your solutions and advice!