Fall Cleaning: Step by Step Toy Organization

Our playroom was bringing me down. The toy situation was out of control. My feet and toes were beginning to ache. Every time I tripped over a toy, my kids learned a new colorful word.


My husband and I pledged to clean it up. But we kept putting it off because we did not know where to start. Finally, a dear friend, spied toys in the boys’ room.

“No toys in their room. They have to go. Their bedroom is where they sleep. You can’t expect them to know the difference between bedtime and playtime. It’s too confusing for them. Get the toys out immediately.”

The next morning I did. Her directive was the kick we needed to get our toy situation under control.

Benefits of the Organizing the Toy Situation

  1. Cover Ready for House Beautiful
    • Ok – we might not be ready for a cover shoot, but our house is straight. This is surprisingly calming.
  2. More Playing, less ‘toon Requests
    • Our kids are playing with their toys!
    • I had seen this identified as a benefit of toy organization. I dismissed it as a half-truth. Kind of a lie parents proliferated to feel better about what they just did. Then my kids did it. This benefit is no joke.dh-playing-with-toys
  3. Clean-up Cooperation
    • Before even I didn’t want to clean-up. Now the boys help return their toys to their new homes.
  4. Lessons in Generosity
    • Our kids learned a little about giving to others. I am not saying they did not utter the words, “I don’t want to give my toys to other kids.” I’m saying they are learning about that concept.

Step-by-Step on Making over the Playroom: Gather —> Sort —> Donate —> Organize 
(Warning: it got worse before it got better, but it did better.)

Gather all the toys in the whole house in the same location.

  • Prior to the clean-up, we had toys scattered in multiple rooms. I thought the multiple rooms would give the kids options, a change of scenery. But I watch TV in the same spot, eat in the same spot, sleep in the same spot – our kids can play in one spot.
  • If some of the toys are in storage bins or containers, dump all the toys onto the floor. This enabled us to see all of the toys and freed the bins for sorting (more in next step).


Sort the toys. Take inventory of the goods in-house to ease determining what to donate and what to keep.

  • We used our kitchen table as sorting Ground Zero. From the pile on the floor, we started placing the toys in the respective categories on the table. We used bins and brown paper grocery bags to separate the categories.
      • Our Categories :
        • Balls
        • Dinosaurs
        • Trains
        • Hot Wheels – cars and accessories
        • Vehicles: trucks, airplanes and helicopters
        • Big Blocks
        • Little Blocks
        • Musical Instruments
        • Little People Toys
        • Puzzles
        • Stuffed Animals


Identify the Donations

  • We designated our dining room table as the To Be Donated spot.
  • We went through each category determining what would stay and what would go. Some toys were obvious donation candidates. Others required my husband’s less sentimental intervention.donations-tableDisclaimer to friends and family: If you see a toy you gifted in the donate pile, please know these toys brought many smiles and squeals to our family, but it is their time with another family!

Organize with Storage Bins

  • If you have a vision, buy your storage bins first. I did not have a clear vision, so I purchased the bins later.
  • Bin purchase tips:
    • Shallow bins help my kids see what is inside and they are small enough for their little arms to carry.organized-low-bins
    • Home Goods is a storage bin king. They have a large, reasonably-priced, selection.
      • Home Goods & TJ Maxx often have the same inventory. I found the style and color I wanted at Home Goods, but they did not have enough. Score! TJ Maxx had the rest!
    • A friend recommended @Home.
    • As much as I love Target, this is not their forte. Their selection was limited and a little pricier.

The Big Reveal

  • Once I had the bins home, we were on cruise control. Putting it all back together is the fun part. I stuck with the categories for each bin: Dinosaur bin, hot wheels bin, train bin, etc.

I wish we did this months ago. My house is now clean (clean is a relative term these days, I will just say it was cleaner than before the Great Toy Overhaul) everyday. My kids are playing with their toys and clean-up is a breeze.

If you have any toy organizing or donations tips, please share them in the comment section below! Don’t forget to follow by email to get new posts delivered to your inbox!

9 thoughts on “Fall Cleaning: Step by Step Toy Organization

  1. theswirlingdervish says:

    Hi Libby! Another great post – I always enjoy your blog and find it easy to relate to. As such, I’ve nominated you for the Real Neat Blog Award. Your post on the Verbal High Fives really resonated with me, and I think lots of others would enjoy your point of view too. If you’d rather not accept, that’s totally fine – I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading My Rabbit Trails. Cheers!


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