Living in a high-rise apartment building with kids and without a garage, I’ve learned a thing or two about keeping things organized.
Since we lost the attached garage with our move to this current place (so missing that and can’t wait to have a garage again in our next place), I spent two months prior going through every aspect of our life and throwing out, donating, and selling a whole lot of stuff that just had no use for the time being. I got rid of so much furniture, decor, clothes and baby gear, and it felt awesome.
Purging and selling was a lot of work, but I’m so happy I did it. I felt more in charge of our stuff and took the opportunity to redecorate in a more minimalistic style because of it.
The move has done wonders for us — so much more light! There’s barely any carpet, and my kitchen is huge and gorgeous! Did I mention there’s a cool city view? And I have a walk-in closet?! I’m in love, if you can’t already tell.
I love that our home doesn’t feel like a kid took over entirely. You can definitely tell there’s a baby around at all times, but adults live there too, you know.
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Here are my tips for organizing your toddler’s toys without losing (too much) of your sanity:
1. Enclosed Bins & Boxes
Make use of storage solutions that keep all those bright colors out of sight and out of mind for a more peaceful home. I really prefer enclosed containers, because you can’t see the toys!
Vienna’s main toy storage is the IKEA Kallax (formerly Expedit) shelving unit, the one thing from IKEA that I’ve kept over the years. It’s served many a purpose in both of our apartments, from dining room/entryway dècor to baby storage.
I also bought four seagrass baskets to put into the shelving unit. Every few days or so I rotate out which basket sits in the living room for Vienna to play with, so she isn’t too bored with the same toys.
Our TV stand cabinets now also house additional toys in the living room.
2. Vertical Space
Think about how you can use wall space to store or display your children’s toys in a chic way. Vacuuming around a bunch of stuff on the floor sucks, let me tell ya.
One of my favorite vertical storage solutions is a wall ledge shelf for books. The only thing is only the prettiest books make it on there, since this becomes a part of your dècor. But it always looks so darn good! I keep meaning to do it for Vienna.
There’s also this tree book shelf that I really want one day, but I don’t have the wall to do it right now. Isn’t it adorable?!
I’m also considering buying a tall armoire to hang clothes and store toys.
3. Underbed Storage
This one pains me a bit, because I really believe in keeping things clear and breezy underneath furniture. Something about not having anything underneath a bed just feels right to me.
I’ve started keeping a few of Vienna’s things under her bed and ours over the last few months. I’d recommend looking into beds with pull-out storage built-in underneath. There’s also special storage boxes you can buy that are low enough to fit under most standard height bed frames.
4. Seasonal Purging
Kids are always growing and regularly changing their skill sets and interests. It’s an amazing thing to witness, but they inevitably outgrow their toys and books in the process. A part of it is boredom, and sometimes putting a toy away for a few weeks and bringing it out again makes it “new” again.
Store some of the nicest and most valuable keepsakes for future babies. Give stuff away to your mama friends. Donate the rest, or sell things in bundles on a mom-to-mom Facebook group. Consignment shops and apps like Offer Up are other great ways to purge toys.
Amidst all the purging, think of every new purchase from the perspective of where it’ll be stored within your space. That helps me stop unnecessary purchases, and only the best/most needed/most wanted things make it into the house.
Lastly, a trick I learned from having a December baby was to not open/unpackage a few gifts from my daughter’s birthday and Christmas right away; I’ll bring them out later when there’s nothing special going on holiday-wise and as a reward for some achievement. That way there’s less new stuff out all at once and the fun of gift-opening is spread out a bit.
5. Grandma’s House
If you’re lucky to have a grandma (or two) living nearby, send some of the toys her way. Kids seem to find joy in old toys they haven’t seen in a while.
I also secretly send toys to my mom’s house that I don’t like aesthetically but can’t bear to throw away (sentimental gifts that just aren’t my style, etc.). It keeps me a little more sane and makes her house more fun for grandchild(ren), so it’s a win-win!
6. Library Card
When we moved into this new apartment, I signed up for a library card at my local library. I love that I can borrow books for daughter, and she’s so excited about something new to read and pour over. Then in about two weeks’ time, we give the books back and come home with a new set. Greatest invention ever.
7. Repurposing Toys
Vienna’s tepee in the living room sometimes serves as spillover storage for her toys and books. I love that you can’t really see what’s inside with the “doors” closed and it can be put away in seconds.
I keep a couple of favorite toys in my car, diaper bag and stroller for her too.
Sometimes I have her play with non-toys. Isn’t it hilarious how little kids will often be more interested in the box a toy came in than the actual toy itself?! Rearranging her cup and plate drawers, my closet, and my hair/makeup cabinets are some of her favorite daily pastimes too, haha.
As an honorable mention, I’d also like to add playground equipment as toys. Park slides and swings are some of Vienna’s favorite things to “play” with. If you consider playgrounds and parks and the world in general as your child’s oyster, it’s kind of an extension of your home’s play room. I think we’re pretty lucky to live in Southern California, where the weather is great for outdoor play most days of the year, so I try to take full advantage of it. I have a few favorite parks we like to visit as well as try to find new parks on my phone via Maps, local blogs and just driving through neighborhoods.
Please share your toy organization tips in the comments!
If you’re into this kind of article, also check out 10 Tips for a Cleaner Home.