I FINALLY organized the toy drawers in our living room. I think its been about 2 years since the last time, and that was just to pull some of the infant toys Chloe no longer touched. Talk about procrastination! And honestly, once I finally sat down to do it, it went pretty fast.
The dresser is a Malm that we use as a console table (not the bins shown above). Of the dresser’s 6 drawers, the 4 lower ones were dedicated to Chloe’s things. One drawer is for Chloe’s jackets and hats, so she can put them away by herself when she comes in the door. The other three were full of toys and random junk. I wish I had taken a “before” photo, just to prove what a mess it all was, but the energy to do it came on suddenly. I mean, I had thought about doing it a million times, but this is the first time I sat down to do it. That is the hardest part, in my opinion, just setting down to the task.
I started with 2 large empty bins and one paper bag for junk. Junk equaled anything broken, useless, missing pieces, or not worth giving away. The first bin was for donations and the second for holding items to keep, so I could fully empty a drawer and vacuum out the accumulated dust. After a short time I brought over one of Chloe’s little play chairs, to help my back. Once I saw a pattern emerge, I began to group items in organized piles on the floor, a lot of which needed to go somewhere else. In our house this means:
Books to the bookshelf
Play clothes to the dress-up bin
Play jewelry in a play purse
Finger puppets bagged together (closet)
Play doh/ Art supplies to the art shelf (closet)
2nd Bedroom (soon to be Leo’s!)
All Legos and blocks
Great Room (aka kitchen/dining/family area)
Baby toys for Leo in the baby toy bins (more about this later)
Play food and utencils to the play kitchen
After sorting and putting toys away that belonged to the above areas, the remaining toys that stayed in the Malm drawers now fit into just two drawers. One drawer is for all stuffed animals, dolls, and doll clothes. The second drawer is divided into musical instruments on one side and tiny figurines, knick-knacks, cars, wind-up toys, small balls, bean bags, and anything that Leo (now 8 months) shouldn’t play with. Also, any very small toy that was worth keeping, but that I didn’t care about losing, were put away into a separate grab bag for taking on trips.
The remaining empty drawer will be used for Leo’s jackets and hats, and to help ease Chloe’s jacket drawer for now, which is completely stuffed thanks to generous hand-me-downs. Through the winter she mostly rotates between only one coat and a jacket, but once spring comes she’ll be using her lighter-weight ones, too.
The biggest accomplishment in all this, at least for me, is that now everything has a place. No, I don’t like that things are spread over four rooms, but the fact is that Chloe would rather be where we are than playing by herself in her room. Right now her room is for sleeping, getting dressed, and reading. Otherwise, she spends most of her time in the great room or the office where she is allowed to watch occasional shows on the computer (via Netflix or PBSkids.org).
Leo, being the baby, is also, naturally, wherever we are. Thus there are 2 of the large Target bins (shown above) of baby toys in the great room. And honestly, Chloe plays with them, too. Someday I’d like to add structure and storage to the great room (maybe with some Besta?), but that won’t be anytime soon.
The hardest part of this whole experience was keeping Chloe from undoing the work while I was trying to cull and organize. She would want to play with some newly uncovered toys and then walk away with them, or scatter my piles before I had a chance to put them were they belonged. I also had to take breaks to entertain or feed Leo. So I would suggest doing this while the kids were elsewhere, if possible. Even if, by some miracle, both my kids napped at the same time, our house is too small and the noise of shifting toys would certainly wake them.
So there you have it. I feel I should add that I am by no means naturally tidy, and I don’t expect everything to stay put, because it won’t. But, when I occasionally attempt to maintain it, it is much easier to do now. Chloe is able to find things easier and enjoy her toys more. It is a really good starting point for an organized (if not tidy) future.
If only I could organize my office as easily…