It is the last week of the Wait-No-More Challenge at I Heart Organizing and I saved the
worst best for last. No joke folks, this is the Monica’s closet of our house. (If you are unfamiliar with the “Friends” reference, you need to go get Netflix right now after reading this post because the entire Friends series is there, and you should watch it…) Here are the areas I chose to organize for the challenge:
This week we’re focusing on toys, and it was definitely a challenge!
Let me start with a little back story, so you can fully appreciate what’s behind this disaster. About a year ago, I read a post about a mom that took away all her children’s toys, and, after reading the article, I thought, “This woman is brilliant! I’m gonna take away all my kids’ toys.” Let me elaborate a little more before you judge me as “Worst Mom Ever”. I did not literally take away all the toys, never to be seen again, I simply moved the toys to the basement, keeping only a handful upstairs (which included their art and craft supplies, which you can see how I organized here).
Over the course of a couple days I began hauling every toy to the basement. I literally cleared out the entire playroom while they were at school, and it took them 3 days to notice. Hello? Three days! No toys! Gone!… And not one question as to where they went? Honestly, I don’t think they noticed because there were so many other toys around, they didn’t even realize a whole room had been emptied of them.
On the last day of school I moved the remainder of the toys into the basement. I still let my kids bring up one toy at a time, but it needed to be cleaned up and brought back down in order to get something new. I encouraged them to only chose one toy each day, but this was not a hard-fast rule. It was also summertime, so they could play outside (and I didn’t take any outdoor toys downstairs, so they had access to balls, jump ropes, rollerblades, bikes, scooters, slip-and-slides, etc.) My kiddos complained of boredom for a couple days, and then it stopped. Things were working. The house was cleaner, my kids spent their days outside. Bliss.
Fast-forward. December 2014. Christmas. I don’t know about you, but my house turns into pure chaos around the holidays. We go from one Christmas celebration to the next, barely having time to empty the vehicle of our new gifts before we pack up and go to the next event. On January 1st our house is FULL of gifts that have no home. My answer? Chuck everything in the basement. (Great solution, I know.) Pretty soon, my kids followed suit. Bring up a toy, play with it, chuck it in the basement. Repeat.
So, here’s our basement (I’m screaming in horror as I post these.):
(A little ode to the Christmas holiday that started this whole thing with the tree in the middle.)
It is totally and completely out. of. control! Because our basement is unfinished, no one goes down there, thank heavens, but this is also why it got so bad. Out of sight, out of mind. This Wait-No-More challenge meant it was time; time to tackle this space one Lego at a time (Can you imagine actually cleaning up one Lego at a time? It would take forever! Don’t really do that.)
Please keep in mind, I am not trying to make this space magazine-ready. Let’s be real, this is an unfinished basement, and these are plastic toys we’re talking about. This isn’t going in Better Homes and Gardens any time soon. My goal, while not to make this space glamorous, was to make it functional and much more organized.
As I do with all my organizing projects, I went through every toy and puzzle and game and art project, asking myself whether it was a keep, donate, or throw item. It’s best not to involve your children in this process because everything is a “keep” item to them. Everything! Once I sorted it out, I put all donation items into bags/totes and threw out the trash. Now I could see everything I had to work with.
I am a big believer in totes and labels. Similar items into a tote, label it, done. I took this approach with the pile of toys I had left. (I found all my totes at Target and created the labels using this template).
For the board games, I taped up any boxes that were falling apart, and all misplaced game pieces found their respective boxes. We also have some games that either didn’t come with a box, or the box has been lost. These went in totes with labels, just like the toys.
I went through each deck of cards and threw out any that were missing several cards- we still have 5 decks, so I think we’re good. I then combined all the cards games into one tote so they were more contained and easier to find.
I started having my kids put together the puzzles we have, but we haven’t made it through them all. I think once a puzzle is missing several pieces, it’s okay to throw it out, but that’s just me. I also keep this little container for pieces we find, but don’t know which puzzle they belong to. That way, when doing a puzzle, we know the first place to check for a missing piece.
Organizing the Legos took a very long time (I guess I really did organize one Lego at a time). My son wanted them sorted by color, which makes sense when trying to follow instructions. We spent a few hours doing this. I have seen some people that store Legos in drawers by color, but I was not going to drag a drawer organizer upstairs whenever someone wanted to play with Legos, so we separated by color and put them in Ziploc bags, and the bags went into a larger tote. I think this will be much easier when dumping out colors as well. How does one do that when they are in drawers?
Organizing Art Supplies
Most of our art and craft supplies are upstairs in our art cabinet, but for those that are not used as often, we store them downstairs. I went through all the art/craft supplies and organized them into drawer organizers, and, of course, they were labeled as well.
The Finished Product
I didn’t want all the totes and games to end up all over the floor again, so I got some shelving from Walmart. Again, not glamorous, functional.
Here are all our toys after the clean-up. Notice that I am not taking a picture of the full basement. This is because my cousin and his family are currently building a new house, and because their former house already sold, they are using our basement for storage. The after shots would be pictures of their stuff, and, as cute as it may be, not super exciting. This was TOY organization though, and the toys are organized. Hooray!
Remember this is not a glamour shot, this is an organized, more functional space.
*Here is the article I referenced at the beginning of this post: Why I Took All My Kids’ Toys Away (& Why They Won’t Be Getting Them Back) While this mom had her reasons for taking her children’s toys away, here were mine:
1.) Whenever we had a garage sale, I would set out all the old toys I was going to sell, and my kids became instantly fascinated with them. Not only were they fascinated, they would play with them for hours. If I put the toys out of sight, would they become more interesting and entertain longer?
2.) We had a lot of toys… and they were everywhere! I felt like my kiddos would start one thing, get bored after 5 minutes, and move onto the next. If all the toys were in the basement, out of sight, would they play with things longer because they wouldn’t see 426 other choices?
3.) My children, like many others, do not love picking up after themselves. If the amount of toys were limited, making clean up easier and less overwhelming, would the whining decrease (even a little)?
4.) I knew if I removed all the toys, my children could only name 5 or 6 that were missing; those they played with most often. Ask them to list everything, and they wouldn’t have a clue. Would they gain more of an appreciation for the items they possessed?
What are your thoughts? How do you deal with the mass of toys in your home?
Hope you have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend!
You Might Also Enjoy: