With kids, comes great responsibility — and a whole lot of clutter. Try as you might to prevent it, you will acquire a lot of toys: Lego sets, arts and crafts supplies, action figures, dolls, musical instruments. If you’re not careful, these items can soon overtake you, causing frustration and a lot of late-night profanity when you inevitably step on them. That’s why a proper toy storage system is essential.
Now, a good toy organization system works two fold: it alleviates clutter, yes, but it also provides children a clear model on how to put away toys. While no two toy organizational systems are the same, they do have one thing in common: a series of components that, when their powers combine, provide a place for everything. The question is what boxes, bookshelves, trunks,, and play mats make the most sense?
For an answer, we reached out to professional organizer — and the amazingly named — Master Cruz. Cruz spends her days creating solutions for clutter and, as a parent herself, is acutely aware of the toy-storage struggle. Her best advice: “Have your child help set up organizing systems. Including them in the decision making process will make them feel that they are owning their space or room, and are part of coming up with a solution with you, rather than you just telling them what to do.” With that said, here are the eight go-to toy organization solutions Cruz recommends to clients that will help you stay above the mess.
Lay-n-Go Large Activity Mat & Toy Organizer
The ideal system for parents that have kids into small items that are always under foot, this large mat acts as a play area and storage system at the same time. Expand it and you have a designated play area with boundaries; when playtime is over you can cinch it shut in seconds, and either dump out the contents and hang it up, or toss the full bag in a corner until the next time.
Badger Basket Three Bin Storage Cubby
“I love this unit because it’s easy for younger children to get toys out, and more importantly put them back in,” says Cruz. “Plus it’s stackable.” The three deep bins will allow you to segregate toys by child if needed and it is easy to clean.
Over the Door Hanging Shoe Rack
If you are the parent of a child hooked on Barbie’s, or any other such toy, then this simple solution solves many of your problems. “You can put accessories in one pouch, clothes in another, dolls in another, and so forth,” says Cruz. “Best of all since it’s clear they can empty the only the ones they need when playing.”
3-Shelf Wooden Gavin Rolling Cart
While it could certainly act as a home bar, Cruz says this rolling storage unit is ideal for anyone in smaller spaces.“Many of my clients live in smaller homes and apartments without a lot of extra room so I suggest this item to them,” says Cruz. “It holds a lot of toys, is mobile, and best of all looks nice even when sitting in a living room since it’s not bright colored and plastic.”
Mosslanda Picture Ledge
Cruz’s go to for book organization. It’s easy to put up, holds a lot of children’s books, and, best of all, allows your child to store their books front loaded so that they can see the front covers of their books when looking and not pull down unneeded ones.
Plano Stowaway with Adjustable Dividers
Cruz recommends these clear plastic boxes for storing any small, loose toys like Legos or matchbox cars. Not only are the clear boxes (sensing a theme here?) secure and easy to store away but they’re small enough that you can take them with you traveling to quarantine toys on the road.
Container Store Smart Tote System
This is Cruz’s go-to container for storing any any arts and crafts supplies. “I love everything about this system,” says Cruz. “You can mix and match what items you want, color code them to make it easier for your child, and they all can stack inside larger totes to store away.”
Container Store Elfa Utility Workshop Organizer Board
What works for tool organization works for toy organization. “For parents of active kids who have lots of Nerf guns and such you cannot do better than this organizer,” says Cruz. “You can hang the guns from the hooks, organize the darts in the drawers, and it’s fully customizable to adapt as they grow up.”