How do you eat an elephant?

C and I headboards

C and I headboards

See these headboards? They’re my attempt to eat an elephant one bite at a time. These headboard represent the first step in me taking back my bedroom. They’re also a good example of the kind of deal you can score on craigslist with a little patience and perseverance! Where else can you score two Pottery Barn inspired twin headboards for $75?

Now the real question is, how do I corral this explosion of toys that have taken over their room?

C’s closet

I’s closet

These are Catie and Ian’s closets! The horror is, Ian still has a bunch of other cars and a train set that are in my bedroom right now!

I’m sorta embarrassed to have shown that to you, but I need help. I need suggestions for how to manage their stuff. We gave away a couple of large trashbags of toys right before Christmas and threw away another couple of bags of toys that were too broken to keep. Catie has a hard time with keeping her things picked up, so I thought I’d make it easier for her by losing the separate containers and giving her one big toy box. Ian has so many cars (of various sizes) that they ended up sorted into three big bins. Plus another box of blocks… AND the stuff that’s hanging out in my room.

Yeah. It ends up being lots of toys. Toys that I want to get organized in a nice attractive, but not extraordinarily expensive way. I just finished reading this article hoping for some inspiration, and while it was full of great advice, it wasn’t enough. Sooooooo… I need suggestions. Seriously, I am BEGGING for suggestions. (And pictures, if you have them. I’m a visual person, pictures are always appreciated!)


Fill up the comments or e-mail me. I’ll owe you oodles of chocolate… I’ll be your BFF… how about, I’ll be ENDLESSLY thankful? Because if you help me vanquish this clutter demon, I will definitely be endlessly thankful. (Is that enough groveling?)

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8 thoughts on “How do you eat an elephant?

  1. Tricia Ballad says:

    As Mom to 3, I can tell you – RUN SCREAMING from the “one big toy box” concept! It seems like a great idea on the surface. You can keep all their toys in one place, all nicely contained. WRONG! What really happens is, the one single toy that they must have right this very second WILL be located at the bottom of the box. This requires that you dump out the entire box, preferably all over the floor in as large a space as possible.

    If your daughter has a hard time cleaning up her toys, you could try a library system. Keep all the toys nicely organized, categorized by how she plays with them. Then let her “check out” one box of toys at a time. When she’s through, she can return that box and get another one. It will be cumbersome for the first week or so, until she gets used to it, but in the long run you’ll both be happier. She’ll have a much more manageable mess to clean up (just one type of toy), AND she’ll have all the toy parts she needs for play every time. You get a nice, organized toy closet.

    Good luck!
    Tricia

  2. Heather says:

    Love the headboards! Don’t know if I can help much with the toy problem, as I’ve been fighting the same battle for about 20 years now… We mostly use the plastic bins, in different sizes depending on the toys, then stack them on a big toy shelf. It’s not the best system, as they have to actually put them away for it to work. I’ve always ended up with a big mountain of stuff to sort, regardless.

    Toy boxes are nice, but it never fails, they want the toy at the bottom of the box and dig out everything else to get it. I really like the plastic rolling carts with drawers, and recently organized my son’s Legos in one, separated by color. I’ll be interested to see if you get any good suggestions (that I can use, too! lol) Check out my blog to see the ongoing “room shift” project I’ve been working on. There are photos in one of the earlier posts of the rolling cart and toy shelf. Here’s a link to all the “room shifting” posts:

    http://needles-and-pens.blogspot.com/search/label/room%20shifting

    Good luck!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Well, I can definitely say “been there, done that” on this one, and in all honesty, I’m still doing it now – but that has more to do with finances than anything else, as in buying stuff to keep things organized piece by piece.

    First of all, bigger is not better for storing kids’ toys, unless your goal is to break many of them to reduce their number, or end up with mountains of toys in the room each time they play. Invariably they will dump the big toy box, even if you think it is too heavy for them. Stick with drawer style bins on shelves or racks that hold specific types of toys. Teach them that the bins are the toys’ beds if you have to, and make a ritual of tucking them all in before bedtime. Stuffed animals (the bane of any mom’s existence because they seem to multiply faster than rabbits) can be given hammocks in corners if they actually play with them. If they just like having them around, a few on a made bed are fine, but consider attaching the majority to a chain hanging from a hook on the ceiling.

    Train and car tracks that are too big for small bin storage fit great in plastic under-bed storage boxes. Make sure you measure the largest (longest) pieces before buying the bin. If you’re not nervous about your kids falling out of bed anymore, you can also consider bed risers to increase storage space a little bit.

    Lastly, consider rotating, if you really don’t have the space in their rooms. Box some toys, store them with the Christmas decorations, and take them out again a few months from now. Be sure to box up some other toys when you do that, unless you are doing another toy bin cleaning that leaves you with about the same amount going out the door permanently.

    Once you have it organized, one way to keep it organized is a white board. Make a responsibility chart (mine came from a school fundraiser, and was printed by Build-A-Bear). List the kids’ chores, include keeping the toys in order, and set goals with rewards. Right now I owe my six-year-old a Leapster Max game cartridge, and he’s working to get a charger for his Leapster. (We agreed that we’d get both once he met both sets of goals, since the batteries die too fast for him to enjoy a new game without putting us in the poor house from battery purchases.) That’s another thing that helps with the clutter – as the kids get older, toys get more expensive, but they also get smaller! Hand held educational video games are great, they don’t take up much space, and bonus is that I don’t have to worry about unsafe toy recalls (it’s been an age since I’ve seen a recall on any of the major electronic game systems.)

    Good luck in reclaiming your home from the infamous toy monster!

  4. the feathered nest says:

    Hi Shauntelle, I used lots of seperate bins for my dd’s toys. Like all train stuff was together (we also used the under the bed bins), all the naked Barbies were together :-), the playdoh and craft stuff had their own area etc. We always did a quick pick up before daddy gets home. As long as she was able to put like with like it really wasn’t difficult keeping things looking reasonable.

    Manuela

  5. Linda Sherwood says:

    I did the small bin route, clear with pictures on them. I still like the small bins. My children do too but for different reasons. They like to empty all of the bins and use them for things like cars for their Barbie dolls and houses. So the little boxes end up with the same problem as the big box.

    I have tried lots of things. Eventually, I figured out what each child would do. I have one daughter who doesn’t like to put anything away because she wants to keep track of all of her stuff. She is afraid if she puts it away, one of her siblings will get it, and she won’t know. For her, I have given her lots of display space with shelves and tables.

    Personally, I don’t think the closets are that bad. My girls are older, and they leave things all over the floor. I can’t stand that. Noting makes me more upset than seeing my house “trashed” although my definition of trash would be other people’s idea of messy. I guess when my kids don’t take care of their things that their dad and I worked hard to give them, I feel like they are inconsiderate and just ungrateful little brats. 😉

  6. Jenn @ Frugal Upstate says:

    I didn’t read the article you mentioned, so I may be repeating something they already said, but here goes.

    You could probably get rid of 1/2 of that stuff and the kids would never notice. They don’t see and/or play with the stuff on the bottom of the pile anyway. I went into Princess’s (6yr) room about a month ago and-I kid you not-filled up an entire 33 gallon trash bag with toys etc, put it in the basement and then straightened up her room.

    She hasn’t even noticed the stuff is missing, and although her room still gets messy (like the poster above, she loves to set up “displays” all over her room. Sigh) things acutally fit in the places I have provided for them. More or less.

    What did I take out? About 1/3 of her stuffed animals. The “non special” barbies with ratty hair, happy meal toys, anything broken or missing pieces or geared to a toddler. She never plays with the dolls, so all but one went away, and only a few sets of clothes. . . You get the idea.

    Good luck-this is a never ending battle for all of us, especially since every time I turn around someone seems to be giving them more stuff. ..

    Don’t even get me started on the art drawer. . .

  7. Erin says:

    Animal bags:
    http://www.ohdeedoh.com/ohdeedoh/shelving-storage/animal-bags-017475

    I thought they were fun, maybe making something like this yourself? Just a good idea for soft animal storage.

    I have three boys, and a daughter. The only toys we have are Legos, and some random things that we accumulate and get rid of regularly. Oh wait, we also have uberstix, which are similar to Legos. They are 100% happy. I say get rid of all the toys. They only ended up on the floor. Only keep the ones they actually play with.

    Small containers work best. Put them on shelves. Toy boxes are screaming out to be dumped. My kids are so much happier with less. So am I. I am sure we will start to get some doll stuff as my daughter gets older, but it will not get out of control.

    If you can’t get rid of everything, only keep out one or two toy items at a time, and store the rest out of reach. Switch them up every so often.

    As my kids get older, I am thinking of putting one small wall shelf up for them so they can keep a few select items other than the large Lego collection they share.

  8. Debbie says:

    Ziploc bags (extra large freezer size)! We use the plastic bins too, but for small collections of toys (ie: dinosaurs, small balls, polly pockets, trading cards, pirate themed toys, etc.) I group them in a large ziploc bag & then toss them into a larger plastic container. It’s also a good way to store puzzles & then hang them on a pants hanger. Your clutter actually looks very small & it sounds like you’re doing all the right stuff — giving away & throwing away. I constantly do that & am now encourage the kids to buy less so that we have less clutter to deal with. Good luck!

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