In this post: Organizing and storing toys for your kids can be a real challenge. Here’s how to easily declutter and organize kids’ toys in your house!


Children’s toys can become messy in a hurry. And toy storage isn’t always so pretty by adult living space standards. Here’s how to easily declutter and organize kids’ toys in any space in your home!

The Real Reason Kids Don’t Play with Their Toys + What To Do to Fix That

Does your toddler or child have a room full of toys they never use? Do you see them playing with spoons from the kitchen or cardboard boxes more than their actual toys? It becomes so frustrating when we get our children their toys only for them to play with things they shouldn’t even be getting into!

If this is happening at your house, don’t worry; you are not alone. So many parents are going through the same thing.

Of course, every child is different and will require different things; but there are a few major reasons why children don’t play with their toys. Learn what these reasons are and how to fix them, so your children play and have fun once again.

Why Kids Don’t Play with Their Toys

Isn’t it so exciting to see your children wake up so giddy on Christmas Day and rush out to open their presents? Have you noticed that while they begin, they are so excited, but slowly the sparkle in their eyes dims and goes out?

This is because kids get burnout just like we do as adults. The more that they have, the more overwhelmed they become. Opening 20 presents will make a child go from excited to exhausted in only a matter of minutes.

This is very similar to how they feel when they see all their toys laid out in their room. They become overstimulated with all the choices, and their brains kind of freak out, in a way.

This especially happens when all their toys are in a huge toy box. For young children especially, just the sight of their overcrowded toy box will leave them happily playing as far away from their toys as possible.

There may be instances where children simply don’t want to play with a particular toy because they have outgrown it or moved on to a new fascination. But, most often, that is not the case.

If your children have a toy box or a room full of toys, they are probably burnout and overstimulated.

How To Help Kids Play with Their Toys

These are pretty big emotions, and it becomes frustrating as a parent because we know they love playing with their toys. 

But, there are ways we can fix that. Here are a few easy tweaks to help get your children back to playing with the toys you know they love!

1.   Declutter

See below for more details on how to declutter your kids’ toys. Buth the gist is to get rid of any toys that are broken or missing pieces. Those toys are not safe and will frustrate your child, and aren’t worth the hassle.

Then sort out toys that your children have outgrown or don’t particularly need anymore. Donate those and keep the rest. Be sure to keep only a handful of the same types of toys like puzzles and stuffed animals.

This will not only free up physical space but mental space too!

2.   Gid Rid of the Toy Box

Toy boxes are helpful to quickly clean up, but they easily become overwhelming for your child. Just like you don’t enjoy digging through your entire jewelry collection just to find the one earring you want to wear, kids don’t like to do that with their toys.

It will make a huge difference if you get rid of the toy box altogether! There are plenty of other ways to clean up and keep toys organized so that you don’t need a toy box. (See below for more toy organization tips.)

3.   Organize Kid’s Toys Effectively

Once you get rid of the toy box, you can organize the toys in a way that keeps the house neat and clean but also helps their mind not be overwhelmed.

Clear totes or containers are really nice for children to see what is in each tote. This makes it easier for them to find what they want to play with, which means they will play with their toys more often. Or you can use whatever bins are cheapest.

We used cheap Ikea bins when our kids were little and taped a photo of what should go in each bin to the side of the bin. 

A bookshelf also works great. You can put the totes on that or simply put out the toys neatly on the shelf itself. This works great for younger children who need to clearly see the toy to grab them.

4.   Rotate the Toys (if you have time)

One of the most effective ways to help your children actually play with their toys is to rotate them! Only put out a certain amount of toys each day. 2-3 is plenty for toddlers, and for older children, 4-5 is probably enough.

Separate the toys into sections A and B, or however many sections you need with all their toys. Make sure to have a variety of toys in each, not all puzzles in section A and all stuffed animals in section B.

Keep one section out for a couple of days and then rotate them. This will keep the toys fresh, new, and exciting for your children.

This also frees up a lot of physical and mental space. Their minds will not be overwhelmed, and they will once again enjoy their toys.

Using these 4 tips will help your children play with their toys all day long once again. You will notice the sparkle is finally back in their eye and their imaginations soar throughout the day. Your children will be a lot happier too. Keep reading for more details on how to declutter and organize your kids’ toys. 

How to Easily Declutter Your Children’s Toys

Is your living room or kid’s room full of toys all over the floor? No matter how hard you try to organize and keep it clean, nothing seems to work. If this sounds like you, you probably need to declutter your children’s toys!

This is not necessarily a quick task, but it is worth it. Here is your decluttering guide, filled with tips to help you easily declutter your kids’ toys as fast as possible!

Tips for Decluttering Toys

Here are some quick and easy tips for decluttering toys. You do not have to follow each tip; choose which ones will work best for your family, so you can declutter effectively and easily.

1.   See What They Play With

A week or so before you go through the toys, simply watch and observe what toys your kids actually play with. You might notice that they love only a handful of toys, which will help when you declutter.

You don’t want to accidentally get rid of a toy they love and constantly use, so be sure not to skip this part! (Ask me how I know this!)

2.   Warn Kids Beforehand

You don’t want to go behind your children’s backs when you get rid of their toys. That is unless they absolutely cannot fathom getting rid of things. If that is the case, it might be best to go slowly and do a few at a time.

Teach them about what it means to declutter and why it is important. Don’t just tell them you are getting rid of toys without a reason. When children understand why they usually have an easier time with the process.

3.   Begin Without Them

For some kids, especially younger ones, it might be best to start the process without them. Go through the toys and preselect the ones you think it is time to move on from. Then, if it helps, show your children that pile and let them choose one toy to keep and get rid of the rest.

This will help your children go through the process with you and teach them this crucial skill, so that eventually, they can do it on their own.

4.   Break it Down into Sections

If you have a huge amount of toys, try breaking them down into sections. Go through the stuffed animals first, then the blocks, and then all the puzzles. Go at your pace and make it as simple as possible!

Decluttering is a process. While we would all love to have it done in one day, sometimes that is too overwhelming. It is best to go at a pace your body and mind can handle.

5.   Keep Only a Few of Each Category

If your children are helping you throughout the process, set limits on how many of each item they can keep. They probably don’t need 20 stuffed animals. Set limits that are fair and manageable. If you can only keep a few of each category, you will be able to keep your home a lot cleaner throughout the day.

6.   3 Bins Rule

When you are ready to declutter, set out three bins:

  1. Trash
  2. Donate
  3. Keep

Then, as you go through the room, put each toy you find in one of the bins. This helps your brain to see the separation and makes things a lot easier! Try your best not to grab anything out of the donation pile if you can!

7.   Organize Afterward

When you are finished, organize all the leftover toys! Figure out what “organized toys” look like for you and how you want to see them every day. Maybe that is in bins, or just a few toys out each day to rotate, do something that makes you happy!

8.   Rewards

Most people don’t particularly care about cleaning and decluttering, so set up some type of reward for yourself and your kids too! Whether that is a fun movie night, self-care day, or treat, make it something you all will like!

9.   Donate Right Away

One of the hardest parts about decluttering is donating the items. Most often, if you don’t donate right away, the toys end up back in your playroom. Your kids will somehow find that donate box and want to keep everything.

As soon as you finish decluttering, take your items to a second-hand store! You will be thankful you did, and there won’t be any regrets.

Toy Decluttering FAQs

How often should you declutter toys?

This is all up to you and your needs. If your children receive a lot of toys throughout the months, perhaps it is good to declutter every six months or so. But, if you live a more minimalistic life, maybe once a year is good enough for you.

Around Christmastime or birthdays is often a good time to remove accumulated toy clutter and make room for the influx that each occasion brings. 

How do you organize many toys?

Usually, bins are the best way to keep toys organized. If you have a playroom dedicated to just toys, that is even better and allows you to organize more effectively.

How many toys should I keep?

Again, this is entirely up to you. How much space you have for your toys will be a big factor in how many toys you keep for your children. If your children do, in fact, play with all their toys, then you can keep more. If not, choose to go with less.

Use any of these toy decluttering tips that fit your family’s situation, and get started today! Do your best to fully prepare so that you can get it done as efficiently as possible. It may be hard in the beginning, but it will all be worth it when your house is clean and neat! You got this!

3 Tips: How to Organize Kids’ Toys

Our kids are not little anymore, so we don’t keep toys out in the open in the living room these days. Mostly they’re actually stored away in totes and drawers for visitors and future grandkids. But that certainly doesn’t mean we don’t well remember the days of all those toys!

Organizing and storing toys – with at least a little style – was always a priority, whether we’ve lived in a small apartment or a flat-out bungalow. Here are some tricks and hacks we used so that our living spaces were generally organized and not overrun with toys. Plus you get the bonus of seeing some really grainy old pictures of our spaces! 😉

black bookshelves with blue plastic bins for organizing toys in
Our son’s room in our tiny bungalow. He was about ten years old at the time, and we had just finished organizing his room.

1. Use Baskets, Buckets, and Crates

When our three children were babies and toddlers, we used baskets and buckets mainly from Ikea (those blue ones above) to organize our kids’ toys because those were the cheapest at the time. We used them for everything from diapers and wipes, to board books and blocks.

And often they were right in our living room, either nestled beside the couch or tucked into low shelves for easy access. It was sometimes obvious and sometimes not. For a time, before the kiddos could read, we also labeled them with photos of what belonged inside for easy cleanup. 

living room with black leather couch, organized shelves
This was our townhouse in 2009. The kids were about 4, 6, and 8 years old. So we still had toys next to the homeschool stuff for the littlest.
lower shelves on black bookcase, with bins of toys and baskets for organizing kids toys
Close-up of the same shelves in our wee living room. The kids did have another playroom, so this was just what was needed on the main floor. But it could have been chaotic and messy, if not for the organization.
black bookshelves with lots of books and toy bins for organizing kids toys
This was the family room at our back split. Everyone’s books were kept here, except what they were reading at the time. And all the toys were here too because the bedrooms were small the girls shared a room.

*If you decide to use baskets or crates, make sure there are no “catches” or sharp edges for little fingers to get hurt on. 

2. Store Toys in Their Bedrooms

As our own kids grew and likely as yours do too, much toy storage moved out of the main living spaces into their rooms.  And storing them in stylish receptacles there became very colorful, depending on the theme and color of their rooms!

pink and aqua girls bedroom with open closet and cloth buckets as storage

Some ideas of what we’ve used for kids’ storage:

  • Ikea magazine holders for papers and coloring books
  • Ikea towel bar with hanging (kitchen) bins for pencils and markers
  • Dollar store buckets for art supplies like scissors, tape, and glue sticks
  • Home Depot/Martha Stewart cube shelving and canvas bins for toys and books

3. Hide Toys in Plain Sight

Even though we moved many toys to the kids’ bedrooms, some toys and games had to stay in the living room and dining room. Board games, toy animals, recorders, etc. all needed homes. Some traditional furniture pieces can provide excellent hidden storage if you’re creative.

country heart cutout coffee table covered in painted beadboard for kids toy storage

Some ideas of this in our past homes:

  • Our coffee table at one time held all of our family’s board games and kept them safe from younger visitors. 
  • An old (already damaged) crock can hold remotes, and baskets under open end tables work well to hold blankets for curling up with.  
  • Books are much loved and stored simply in stacks or rows on bookshelves. If you have little ones toddling around, strap bookshelves to the wall for stability. You can also store paper books up higher out of reach of little hands that may cause them damage. Use lower shelves for baskets of toys or board books. 
  • A simple dresser (choose one with smooth running drawers for ease of use) can house a number of toys: blocks, cars, dolls clothes.

Hidden storage that works double duty is a perfect solution too…

organizing kids toys -dining room hutch with pretty things up top behind glass and kids toys and crafts below in drawers
Looks like an ordinary hutch up top, right? You know to store linens and the good silver? Surprise! This hutch held books, art supplies, and lots of little toys in the bottom drawers!

So obviously bins, baskets, shelves, dressers, and hutches can all do double duty as toy storage!

Obviously, as my style evolved my storage methods did too. And if we had little kids now, I’d still employ the same methods of bins, baskets, and double-duty storage…I’d just use prettier bins, baskets, and double-duty furniture pieces!

How about you – do you have any tips for how to organize kids’ toys with style? Do you use kid-specific containers and toy boxes? Or are you a rebel like us and stash toys wherever you want?