First of all if you haven't read my starter tips refer to my post Home Organization - 1. It is best to read that first and then return here because I am basically just going to dive right into categories here.
So just so you know (every time you organize) this will get messier before it gets cleaner. You need to start in whatever currently has the most toys. Even if you aren't going to keep them there still start there. It is also best that the kids are playing elsewhere but if they must be in there then just tell them they need to help you sort things and to not grab from piles - you will never get this done if they keep pulling things out to play with.
Begin pulling out toys and start putting them in very small categories (piles) around them room. Here are a few of our small piles:
-bob the builder toys
-Mr. Potato head
Other small categories that you might have are:
-barbie doll clothes
-baby doll clothes
-baby doll supplies (bottles, burp cloths, etc)
you get the picture!!!
you get the picture!!!
Once you have divided all of these toys into smaller sections you will know how many bins you need and if your stuff will fit into the shoebox style bin (or whatever bins you want to use). If not try to only go up to the size bin you need so you are not tempted to later stuff it with other things because there is space. Now go get your bins and start putting stuff into the bins and label them.
We have lots of learning "toys" as well so lets talk about them for a minute. Here are some of the bins I have for them:
-leap pad cartridges
-puzzles - for puzzles I always remove it from the box and put them in a zip lock bags. i cut the picture off the front of the box and put it in the box as well. This takes up less space. I put these in an open bin - without a top - so they can pick which one they want easily.
The playroom closet has the same shelves in it that I used in my Home Organization - Removing the Chee post. They have a longer shelf that I have in the middle of my closet where the bookshelves are in the closet of that post. I have the learning toys on one shelf and toys on the other two shelves. This keeps the playroom floor open for the most part so that there is more room to play. If you don't have closet space and need it to be in the actual room then you may want to buy cuter shelves and bins. One of my friends just used bookcases and cloth bins without lids coupled with some clear shoe boxes for smaller items.
Some other important things:
1. Dress up clothes: I previously used a large plastic storage bin but now I have moved to a wooden toy box. That is all that is in there. I think that minimal organization in this area is important. Put all the stuff in one place and if you have little girls that have jewelry you may want to put it in a shoebox within the bigger bin. Allow for imagination here and give them the freedom to just dig through and put on what they are looking for - mixing and matching. Have 1 place that it all can be put away during pick up. I moved from the bin because the boys had acquired more than it would hold. I would also suggest putting this near a mirror. If I had a boy and girl I would separate them by sex but keep them together because probably if they are playing together they would dress up together.
2. We have lots of Lego's and I have put them in one big bin (they are all same size - we just had multiple bins of them).
3. Train Sets: My friend has Thomas sets and so we divided this stuff into types of tracks - straight, colors, round tracks, etc. this way when he needs a specific part of the track then he know where to look. I also put all the trains in one bin, all the accessories into 1 bin. The bigger sections of the track can either stack beside the bins or you can get a bigger bin for them.
4. Mini Lego/building sets: we haven't made it to this stage but I would treat these like puzzles (see above)
5. Cars/Trucks/Bulldozers/Dump Trucks: These I line up on the bottom shelf or on a small bookcase. This keeps them from taking up so much floor space. WE have a small bookcase that is full of these things.
6. Little People: Put the people in a bin and stack all the toys on the shelf in the same area.
7. Misc Toys: you will probably have a bin of misc toys - things that don't fit into a bin. Try to make this only 1 bin. YOU CAN DO IT.
So here are a few more tips:
1. Keep the floor space a clear as possible.
2. The boys are only allowed to get 1-2 bins down at a time. They must be picked up and put away before they get another bin or they must come as me. This keeps clutter down and it teaches them to play with the same thing for more than 10 minutes at a time. (self-control)
3. We don't have a ton of toys. I have come to see that the boys play with only a few things often. I would suggest trimming down on the toys. I promise they really won't miss them. Tell them that you are giving them to kids that don't have toys. If you keep your toys then just find places for all of them.
4. It has been my experience that your smaller same sex children will for the most part play with the toys their big brother or sis is playing with rather than age appropriate toys. I keep a few baby toys but the rest I wouldn't hold onto at least for that sex.
5. I keep Jake's games in the top of the closet. This should be true for any toys that you only let them get at certain times.
6. Once you have one room of toys organized into bins it will make it easier to go room to room and get the toys from each room and put them in the appropriate bin. If you don't have a bin that it will fit in create one. I do suggest that you keep all of the same stuff in one area. Example: all of your Dora toys or lightening McQueen toys should be together not scattered throughout the house. If you want toys in various rooms them put a bin of alike toys in that room.
7. I would use the games in my post Home Organization - Training your children to teach the kids where things belong.
I am not at home while I am doing this post so I may add some things to it when I get home and remember something I may have left out. Hope this helps -ask me questions if you have any and have fun Tackling those Toys.