Inside: If you struggle with organizing toys in the living room, read this post to learn the 6 easy steps to take towards a clean and organized living room.
I’m not going to lie. We have a formal dining room we converted into a playroom (because who eats in formal dining rooms anyways?) Somedays we clean up the playroom before my kids go to bed.
But most days? Most times I discretely shut the door and pretend the mess doesn’t exist.
But what do you do if you don’t have a dedicated playroom? What if toys are taking over your living room and your dream is to sit down at the end of a long day and not have a Barbie foot up your bottom? 👠
You’re not alone. Most of my friends don’t have a dedicated play area. They keep their kids’ toys in the living room and keeping it clean is a constant struggle.
Here are my six best tips for organizing toys in the living room and restoring some sanity to your life.
Organizing Toys in the Living Room — 6 Simple Steps
#1: Purge toys
When you have a small space to organize toys, like the corner of your living room, you have to get good at decluttering toys. What this means is regularly going through the toys and passing along those that no longer get much play.
After you go through and sort, here’s what to do with old toys.
#2: Guard your space
The other half of decluttering is being mindful of what comes into your home. Only buy toys that can fit in the space and request friends and family do the same.
If you’re worried your mom or mother-in-law won’t follow this rule, think of it this way. Grandmothers want to spoil their grandchildren by giving them toys they love playing with. Grandma wants to bring joy.
Most grandmas would rather get a toy that is small enough to live in your home so her grandkids can enjoy it…rather than a gigantic toy that takes up half the living room and hits the curb after a week of shimmying around it.
Be polite and let her know while your kids LOVE all the toys she gets them, you have a limited amount of space to keep them all. Request she considers the size when purchasing toys.
If she doesn’t follow this rule and insists on buying large toys, put a deadline on it. Tell your kids this toy will only live here for a few days, weeks or months (whatever amount works best for you). After that, the toy will go find a new home.
Here’s how one mom dealt with grandparents who kept buying too much stuff.
#3: Use a simple toy storage system.
One of my friends uses a large woven basket to store toys. That’s her entire toy storage system. When it’s time for clean up, all the toys go back into the same basket, which quietly slides out of sight behind the recliner.
Do you have space in the corner or behind a recliner where you could keep a large basket or toy box?
You may even consider getting a small area rug to separate the toy area from the rest of the living room. Bonus if you can train your kids to keep all (or most) of the toys on the rug.
Here are some options for organizing toys in the living room:
- Large woven basket
- Toy Box
- Ottoman with storage
- Cube storage
- Small bookshelf
#4: Set up some ground rules.
One of the best tips for making toys easy to clean up is to take fewer toys out in the first place. Set some ground rules with your kids. Some example rules:
- Kids can take out one container at a time, and they need to clean up before taking out the next one.
- All the toys get cleaned up before dinner.
- All the toys with little pieces get played with at the kitchen table. You know, to save your tootsies from inevitable disaster.
Determine what ground rules work best for you and your family, then be clear with your kids what those rules are. Consistently enforce them and gently help them remember for the first few months the rules are implemented.
#5: Teach your kids how to clean up independently.
If children never talked back, always cleaned up their toys and ate all their veggies, oh, what a world that would be. 😜 Unfortunately, that’s not how this whole parenting thing works. Kids need us to teach them and be patient with them as they learn.
Once you figure out your ground rules for cleaning up the toys in the living room, it’s your job to model that behavior and teach your kids.
The first few (or few hundred) times, clean up the toys alongside your kids. Help them learn the process.
When we clean up toys, the first thing we do is pick up the “collections” of toys, such as DUPLOs or wood blocks.
I give my four-year-old a bin and give him a specific direction of what to pick up. “Please pick up all the trucks and put them in this bin.” He is totally capable of doing this.
After we’ve picked up the “collections”, we pick up the random toys scattered around and put them back where they belong.
One caveat to asking your child to clean up independently: know your child. An eight-year-old is absolutely capable of cleaning up independently. A one-year-old? Not so much.
If I ask my four-year-old to clean up the toys by himself, it will take him 30 minutes — which means, he spends 25 minutes complaining he’s bored or lonely and 5 minutes cleaning up after I scared him into it. 😡
On the other hand, if I say “Let’s go clean up the toys together,” it takes 5 minutes total without me having to yell once.
Know your kids and set realistic expectations.
#6: Give yourself (and your kids) grace.
Let’s set this out there: kids create messes. That’s part of the beauty and wonder of childhood. Yet, in this social media-infused culture, we expect children to always be polite and our houses never are messy.
You know what? Houses get messy. That’s what happens when you…you know…live in them. 😉
But that’s okay. Because we’re not striving for perfection here. Perfection is a myth; it doesn’t exist.
Give your kids grace if they miss 10% of the toys. Or they complain a bit about picking up. Or you sit down on the couch and get some hard, plastic thing poking your tail bone.
Instead, praise them for the 90% they did pick up. Or that they did pick up eventually, even if it took a bit of “reminding”.
The goal of organizing toys in the living room is not for it to look like kids never lived there. The goal is to honor your dreams of a quiet spot to relax at the end of a hard day…while also honoring your kids’ dreams to have wonderful things to play with.
Enjoy your fantastic living room!
After you’ve figured out which system for organizing toys in your living room works best for you, celebrate your hard work and progress!
Seriously, your living room is amazing! Did you know how good it would feel to not trip over toys while bringing a bowl of well-deserved ice cream to the couch? It feels amazing, doesn’t it?
I hope this post has given you lots of great ideas for organizing toys in the living room. What’s your best advice for toy storage in the living room? Share in the comments below.