We’re not big on toys in our family. We hate fun, is the reason. Just kidding! We love fun, we just don’t have a ton of toys! If you’re after a more general toy philosophy and a list of resources (just updated!) for where we’ve found some of our favorites, head here! Despite the relative scarcity around here, lots of you have asked what we’re doing about toy storage these days, so here’s a little overview of what’s working right this minute.
Here’s what’s been helpful:
Keeping like with like: “Baskets!” cries everyone, their mother, and the list of “nursery essentials” on every parenting website from here ’til kingdom come. Agreed: baskets can be very helpful for wrangling kid’s toys. But more than the basket, one needs a basket strategy. Seriously. The key to storing toys in basket (or old wine crates, or fruit boxes, or whatever kind of container you’ve got) is establishing that like goes with like. Toddlers are expert organizers, they just need a little nudge in the right direction. And without that direction, I’d argue baskets can become a clutter-phobe’s worst nightmare. Baskets become catchalls to shove all manner of things that you just don’t want to look at. In a single basket go wooden animals, stray blocks, hair elastics, a forgotten babydoll, a pair of underwear…you get the picture. Baskets can get clutter off the floor, but they can also allow it to pile up without being seen. But use a basket to house a single kind of toy, and things start to make sense. Stray blocks can easily be thrown in the basket with all the blocks. Instead of being strewn around the house, Faye’s play silks live in a basket meant for that sole purpose. (For the uninitiated, play silks are a Waldorfian early childhood toy—they’re just squares of silk to be used for making forts, wearing as capes, stringing together into, waving as flags, etc. Faye’s using a set that my mom made for me and my sisters when we were little.) Whatever the item, like-with-like basket storage creates a system that allows for order, and that’s helpful for the kid and for the parents.
Easy Access: For anything that doesn’t go into a basket, I try to make sure that it’s still easily accessible to Faye. Nothing sadder than an unused toy, if you ask me. There’s not a ton of space to really display toys around here (and, if I’m being honest, it’s not really my preferred look), but we do use the top of this old soda bottle crate to house a little collection of Faye’s toys. Books and additional blocks go into boxes or crates that slide under Faye’s bed. Things like puzzles that have more pieces get zipped into little cloth pouches and put into a crate. Here again, the like-with-like philosophy reigns supreme and the consistent pick up and return to the same spot means that that’s becoming second nature for the tiniest among us. Even better, when everything’s within easy reach, it’s easy to see what’s still not really getting much attention. Those are usually things we decide to pack up and save for the next kiddo or pass along to someone else.
Creating play stations:
Most parents I talk to agree that kids (and their stuff) don’t readily stay relegated to their bedroom. Kids don’t want to feel marooned and so they tote the contents of their shelves into the main living areas so they can hang out with everyone else. Even in our tiny place, I’ve noticed Faye doing this, and I’ve had good luck carving out little spots for her to play outside of the confines of her room.
In the kitchen, I cleared out one of our cabinets to house Faye’s “kitchen toys.” Her pots and pans hang from little hooks inside the cabinet. She’s got a bag of beans for “pouring,” a coffee can with utensils for “stirring,” and when we’re chopping up veggies dinner, she knows just where to head to pull out her own tiny crinkle knife and cutting board.
By the front door, there’s a tiny art-making nook. An old tackle box of supplies (stickers, crayons, erasers, etc.) lives on the top shelf and the middle shelf acts as a de facto desk and houses a glass jar with colored pencils and paintbrushes and a stack of recycled paper that James brings home from school (plus, most recently, a pad of thicker paper for watercolors!). Sure, the paper often gets pulled off the shelf and onto the floor while she’s working on her chef d’ouevres (an artist needs her space, etc.), but the cleanup is still relatively painless (my modus operandi for all things kid-related).
What about you guys? What’s working in your spaces lately?
For the curious:
+ I found our foldable rice basket locally at Collyer’s Mansion (you can find similar ones online at Olli Ella).
+ Our navy bolga basket is from Indego Africa.
+ All of our other crates and boxes were found at wine shops, attics, or flea markets.
+ Faye’s bed frame is the same as ours, from Keetsa.