Despite the fact that we have an entire playroom on the main floor of our home, there is inevitably an exodus of toys from the playroom to the other areas of our house. Most frequently, these toys congregate in the family room.
And while I love seeing the boys play with their toys and read books, it’s not so fun to navigate a toy minefield when making my way through the family room.
Before my most recent find, a combination bookshelf and toy bin, we’d been through several variations of toy organization for the family room.
We tried — and gave up — on insisting that all toys and books be put away in the play room. It just wasn’t realistic.
We used two bins to hold a selection of toys, and another for books. This worked for a little while, but the organization was lacking and Zack, being a baby, enjoyed dumping the bins.
We gave up for a while and piled toys into any mobile cart/basket toys that the boys could push around. This was more of a “throwing in the towel” approach… it only got the clutter off the floor and didn’t make life easier for anyone.
What I like about our current solution? It’s practical. It has multiple levels, and there is a top shelf that Zack (the baby) can’t reach, so Toby can have a little safe haven in the family room for his lego creations or other things that might get damaged by little fingers. Plus, since there’s an enticing bin of toys within easy reach, Zack doesn’t tend to try for the other (previously enticing) items.
Refinishing this toy unit didn’t take long — I sanded and painted the entire thing while Toby was at preschool one day. In fact, I had it in the house and the boys were putting toys away in it before my husband even realized I had refinished it!
Going forward, here are my rules for managing toy clutter in the family room:
- This bin is not a catch-all for toys that have been played with — we’ll still be putting dress up clothes in their bin, magnatiles in their container, etc. But it’s nice to have a spot to store things that don’t have a set home.
- Books need to be put away when not being read. Either on this bookshelf, or the playroom bookshelf. My one exception is library books. Those live in our library book bag (which you see in the bottom left corner — it’s white canvas with red straps).
- When you’re done playing with something, put it away. Enough said.
- After dinner every night, it is time to clean up any toys that are still out. In the playroom, in the family room. While I expect the kids to participate, I intend to help with this because sometimes it’s a big job!
- No toys on the couch. Yes, this is a rule — because my boys decided it was fun to clean up the floor by piling all the toys on the couch on more than one occasion.
- Keep the toys on the rug. Even if toys are being played with, we still need to have a way to get from one part of the house to another — there has to be a pathway. This is important because we walk through our family room to get from the garage and kitchen to the bedrooms.
- No books on the floor. This one is hard to follow for the boys, but I stick to it because I want to avoid any more ER visits. (Toby got a hairline fracture in his leg by slipping on a book on our family room when he was three
Here are a few photos of the before, during, and after.