Toy Storage

The Spooner kids don't have a basement or a playroom full of toys.

We have one toy closet, 2 baskets of dress up clothes, 2 small baskets in the main living area, a toy kitchen, a dozen or so stuffed animals/dolls, several outdoor riding toys, plenty of books and games, and some crafting supplies. We also have 4 extra large stuffed animals, gifted to us by my parents with the birth of each child.

We have a huge yard and mild weather year round. I realize what an advantage this is!

That pretty much sums it up.

Kids don't need tons of toys. In fact, the quality of their play is much better the less they have.

There are countless articles and research out there supporting this, but I'm speaking from my personal experience.

Without a bajillion toys...my kids are more creative, they play outside more, they read, they craft.

Fewer toys is for their well being, but even more so....it is for my well being.

Over the years, as we have pared down our toys, I have become a better parent!

I have become a better parent because our home is more manageable. 

I have less to pick up. Also, my children can actually play a valuable role in clean up because it's not overwhelming.

But let's keep it real...it can still get really crazy. And my kids are not always contentedly doing a puzzle with classical music playing in the background. They whine, complain, fuss, get bored. They are human.

A low point over the weekend.

Here are my three nuggets of advice. This is what my 33 year old self would tell my 26 year old self....

-Don't have more toys than you can comfortably store.

-Don't have more toys than your child (or children) can reasonably clean up.

-Declutter the toys until you are not constantly irritated. You'll know when it's the right amount.

Take these tips with a grain of salt. Kids go through phases and stages. You do what works. You do your best!

Here's how we store what we have...

The building toys - Legos, Magna Tiles, blocks, and trains are stored in clear plastic containers.

These containers are stored in our toy closet in Laurie's room.

I'm pretty conservative on my purchases of storage bins and containers. I repurpose shoe boxes, plastic ice cream tubs (the gallon size for smaller Legos), and other sturdy boxes to round up all the odds and ends that children collect.

We have one basket of girls' dress up and one boys' basket. I regularly go through and throw out torn or stained dress up clothes though I try to keep enough for a group of 4-5 friends to play and all have a costume.

This toy kitchen is mostly abused, but I'm keeping it long enough to see if Caroline will play with it.

These baskets hold the toys we keep in the teen room. I use them as a catch all if I'm doing a quick clean up and don't feel like sorting everything.

We do birthdays, Christmas, and gifts from grandparents. There are surges when we have more toys, so I will store things away or do a purge or find plenty of forgotten or broken toys that can be trashed.

There is an ebb and flow.

Please share, do you struggle with the amount of toys your kids have?

How do you store your toys?

Advice? Questions?


  1. We don't have many toys either--the fewer the better! I am also constantly purging. I used to have guilt about it but have seen firsthand how much better my kids play when they have fewer options. The book Simplicity Parenting, which I love for so many reasons, also really drove this point home. Less is more!

  2. All i was gonna say was
    AMEN sista.

  3. Yes! Yes! Yes! You stated your reasons so well - clarifying for me.

    I like to have a few toy stations throughout the house - this is now Phoebe's toys, the big kids have their things in their room. So we have a basket under the coffee table in the living room, as well as lots of kids' books. In the dining room, there's a small bookshelf as well as a dolly bed, dolly stroller, and dolly high chair. Hmmmmm. That's too much. The kitchen has a bin of trains. I do switch out these toys, with some in storage, which helps keep interest high.

    HOWEVER, I just got done reading Design Mom's book on living with kids (on your recommendation!!) and I love her reasons for keeping bedrooms small and calm - so that the kids will be attracted to being together with the family in the public space. I'm thinking that over.. .

  4. I always love your posts! We are of the less is more philosophy as well. We have a toy closet and I keep our "larger collections" in big green open tubs I purchased for $5/ea from ikea and our smaller collections go in clear plastic lidded dollar store boxes. I love the open tubs because everything is easily accessible and they make for easy cleanup. I love the little boxes because they are typically saved and rotated for quiet "alone" play. Our dress ups are a little out of hand...ALWAYS spilling out of the basket, but they are played with almost daily. We also have an armoire where our older three each have their own shelf to store lego builds or other projects they want kept safe from little hands (because they all share rooms).

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