A year or so into parenting you’ll look around your house and wonder if someone moved you into another home when you weren’t looking. That’s because your once hip and respectable pad is now a brightly colored fun factory with enough toys littered about to qualify it as an outlet mall toy store. You’re the manager of said store, and frankly, you’re not getting paid enough to deal with this nonsense. So it’s time to get your house back.
Sadly, you can’t just buy a new house for yourself and leave the disaster zone to your partner and kid. So, you’ll have to apply some creative storage and containment ideas. Kinda like how you used to stash contraband back in the day. Look! You already have experience with this.
The fact is that your entire house will continue looking like a nursery unless you have a strategic plan to keep it tidy. Yes, you can totally conscript your kid into cleaning up, but if your base organization game is weak, the clean up will not hold. Here are some keys to winning the war.
Banish The Toy Box
It’s the worst of all storage solutions. Your kid will dump toys in the box and forget about them. Or they will remember something in the box and try to retrieve it. But, to get anything out of a toy box, your kid needs to scatter practically the entire thing on the floor. That leaves the box looking as if it got really wasted, fell over and puked its guts out.
Have A Place For Everything
Divide the toys into containable subcategories so your kid can find and put away the toys more easily. You can get as simple as dividing cars from action figures. Or you can go as deep as dividing plastic mammals from plastic fish, which is how the old Gods would have wanted it.
As a bonus, when you’re buying the containers in which you’re dividing the toys, make sure they match. This way you have visual consistency, and it doesn’t look like you’ve swapped your toy store for a container store.
Become A Toy Librarian
Start rotating those toys. Find a space outside of your daily living area that allows you to create a kind of toy library. This bulk storage keeps the majority of the chaos at bay. Your kid can swap toys from the library with toys they’ve become bored of. But SWAP is the key here. It’s a one for one exchange. No exceptions.
Don’t Get Sentimental
Tidiness and sentimentality are not friends. If you think a toy is cool, because you had it when you were young, but your kid doesn’t think it’s cool at all … Get rid of it! If grandma gave your kid a toy that they don’t like, get rid of it. If your kid got a toy from a fast food joint or birthday party gift bag, give them a couple days with it then trash that crapola. You need to be brutal here. Have a critical eye.
Be Thoughtful About Furniture
This not only applies to pieces you might buy, but pieces you already own. If you’re bringing new furniture into the mix, put a premium on hidden storage. Ottomans are awesome, man. So are couches and chairs that have hidden storage.
Invest in shelves that have adjustable heights. Any kind of adjustable furniture is much better than pieces made specifically for kids, which they will ultimately outgrow and stop using.
Finally, look at the furniture you do have. Are there hidden spaces in your home that you can use for storage? Is the space under your couch big enough to slide low profile containers underneath, for toys or games? Are you using the spaces under beds to do more than house wayward dust bunnies?
Containing the Chaos
Sure, you could go to a store and find a specific container for a specific type of toy, but specialization is going to cost you. There are cheaper and more ingenious hacks that other parents will consider you brilliant for. Here are some containers to consider:
- Plastic Buckets: Stack these suckers and zip-tie them together in any number of configurations.
- Hampers: Are perfect for storing big (and long) toys. This is how Darth normally stores his lightsaber.
- Wipes Container: Small toys are perfect for empty butt-wipe containers. Or maybe it’s the other way around?
- Bungees: The trick is to string bungees side by side across empty shelf spaces. This creates a kind of elastic cage perfect for balls or stuffed animals. Check it out.
- Hanging Fruit Baskets: Are perfect for bath toys because they allow the toys to drip dry. Similarly, hanging plant baskets are a great way to use vertical space and display soft toys.
- Jars: Use glass or plastic jars for craft supplies and small toys.
- Crates: If you paint a crate and put it on casters, you have some good looking moveable storage, that will eventually become a rocket sled, so …
- Plastic Door Shoe Organizer: The lowly shoe organizer, with its see-through plastic pockets, becomes an extraordinary divider of toys from Barbies to action figures.
Whatever you use, with some hard work and a solid strategy in place, your house will start looking a tad more adult. But you don’t want to erase all your kid’s toys from the picture. You’re a family. And in the end, a little kid mess makes your house feel like a home. One you’re damn happy that someone moved you into when you weren’t looking.