If you know me long enough, you know that I very much dislike a few things when it comes to toys: plastic toys, pink toys, and toys that make a sound. Haha, my sister laughs at me that my poor kids don't have a positive childhood with a handful of wooden toys. It might seem at first that we have a very limited amount of toys and that most of them are made from wood (the latest is true though), but it's quite opposite. My kids have more than enough toys! So many, that when I take a majority out, little heads can't process it all, jump from one to another, and in the end, don't actually play with any.
To fix this problem, last year I made this Montessori-inspired shelf for toys that allows putting 10-15 activities on display, usually on wooden trays, and helps to concentrate and avoid chaos. Oh, and it makes clean up so easy, it could be done in a minute. When every toy has its place it is also easier for a kid to find it and put it back in the right place.
This time I wanted to show you how we rotate toys (I prefer to call them activities) every 2 weeks, how I organize them, and how I store the rest when kids don't use them. Basically, it all comes down to "zones", each of them has its purpose.
The toy shelf is located in the space for a dining room, between the living room and the kitchen. We moved the dining table to a different part of the living room since we don't use it too often and to have a play space where I can keep an eye on the kids while cooking or being busy with my stuff was more beneficial for us.
Since I have 2 kids of different ages and with different needs, our shelf is customized accordingly. I wrote how to organize a playspace for a baby and a toddler here. The bottom shelf is usually occupied by Sia's toys and Sasha takes the remaining 2 shelves.
Baby is easy - she has different texture balls, musical instruments, wooden toys with different shapes, tethers, and basically everything she can put in her mouth.
Sasha has more sophisticated puzzles, building blogs, peg dolls, animals for imaginative play, math activities, color sorting activities.
When I rotate activities for Sasha ( usually every 2 weeks), I assess what she liked and played the most. I rotate it with similar activity. For example, puzzles are her favorite since she was 18 months old. So every 2 weeks I take out fresh sets of puzzles. It isn't always new, most likely she played with it a month or 2 ago but it feels like a new thing again. Bingo! Another example - building blocks. We have a few sets and when I see she gets board from an old one, I get another one out. Math toys are similar. We have different pyramids, different pegboards, logical games. I can write a more detailed post about the toys that we have.
Mini chest of drawers
I got this mini chest of drawers in Ikea and Sasha used her artistic skills on the first day when I wasn't watching. Needless to say, as of late, when she gets her hands on a black crayon, I'm usually nearby. I'm planning to paint the mini chest but not sure when I'll actually get to it. Since it's also in the living room I need to get to it as soon as possible. Oh, never-ending projects!
The mini chest is for small activities that are much better hidden and can get lost otherwise or create clutter.
Top (1.) Small notepads, stencils, dot markers, flashcards with animals and laminated puzzles
Middle (2.) Temporary tattoos, stickers
Bottom (3.) Water drawing mat. I took it out of the drawer to show it in the next photo. This is such a brilliant thing that usually allows me to leave Sasha unattended to get 5 minutes. Think about it - it's just a water marker and everything will dry up in a minute. Brilliant!
The shop mentioned above here:
This amazing animal watercolor alphabet print you can find at my ETSY store here.
Shelf in my office
My office stays locked at most times and requires special permission to enter. It used to get cluttered with Sasha's toys, art materials, leftover parts. I found a small bookshelf on the Facebook marketplace, repainted it, and now use it for storing Sasha's stuff. I'm not saying the office is clean at all times now, but it is definitely better.
So what do we keep there?
- toys that are not allowed in the living room while Sia is there also known as "baby-dangerous" toys, like marble balls or pins.
- toys that have a lot of parts and don't get used too often, like a train set. If it becomes a favorite, it makes its way back to the shelf in the living room
- art supplies for art projects (paint, clay, sparkles, glue)
- small parts for different sensory bins/imaginative world plays
- different crap that I collect and want to use for recycled toys.
- sensory bin (this time it's colored rice till we get on something new)
You can find it here
We have a regular Ikea Kitchen that I upgraded inspired by Morocco Nights. You can see how I did it HERE.
We don't use this kitchen for its purpose but rather for Practical life activities. Sasha has a water jar from where she serves herself water, snacks (nuts and crackers), her kitchen utensils (plates, spoons, etc), her baking tools (cookie cutters, roller pin), and basic safe knives to cut fruits and veggies (don't get impressed, she barely touches those. I just hope that one day she will have a desire to make herself food ;D).
Sasha's bedroom toy closet
UPDATE 06/04/20: I reorganized Sasha's toy closet and wrote about it HERE.
The majority of toys that we don't use are stored in the closet in Sasha's bedroom. So far she's been good about not getting into it in the middle of the night. There is always something more interesting going on during the day, so I'm not worried about relocating it any time soon. I try to keep toys organized by age/function, but it doesn't work all the time. We have a lot of loose part toys, which I usually put in a zip lock back and then to a bin. Here we also have books that Sasha either too young for or already outgrown. That's where also all-new toys land. I get to this closet probably once a month. And I definitely need to organize it.
Bin under my bed
When we moved to the new house my husband and I knew from the beginning that the master bedroom will be Sia's and we will take a bedroom on the main floor. This way both kids sleep upstairs and we have our bedroom on the first floor so we don't have to worry about noise and waking up the kids.
I usually do a rotation on Sunday evening. Since most of the toys are in Sasha's bedroom and I don't have access to it after 6 pm, I keep a plastic bin with replacement toys under my bed. This way I can easily pull out toys from it and put back old ones. It also helps to finish faster since I don't have prying hands touching everything and distracting me.
We are lucky to have a season room in our new house. I absolutely adore it and Sasha loves to go there first thing in the morning and paint her soul away. She never has access to all the paint since I don't trust her with it yet, but when she is ready to paint, I bring the small amount outside. Everyone is happy.
Besides easel, chalk, some random stuff to paint on, we also have a SENSORY TABLE that I made this summer ( you can see how here) and it's been a hit ever since. We have different cups, ladders, tons of mini sea animals, water guns, and all other messy, water things that are not allowed inside. Winter is coming and honestly, I'm not sure how we will replace all those activities.
That's how my system looks. Maybe not as organized as it should be, but works for us at the moment. Tell me about yours in the comments! I'd love to learn new ideas to implement!