:: This post on organizing the boys’ room was mostly written months ago. Though it may be old news and the banner’s grip to the ceiling has been overcome by mysterious gravity pulls that most certainly do not have anything to do with little boys’ pulling, ahem, the good part is that I can tell you how well this method has worked. ::
A few weeks ago, I found a couple bins for the boys’ room. I was sooo tickled because they were the colors I’ve been looking for and in the five dollar-ish range. New storage was inspiration enough for me to go through the boys’ room purging some, but mostly sorting, organizing and labeling.
Her sentiment: I’m pretty sure that if I find the perfect organizational system, we’ll finally be able to keep the boys’ room neat.
His input: Good luck with that.
We keep things pretty simple when it comes to toys. Sometimes I see pictures of 20 or more bins of toys in children’s rooms. It looks like a fun place to play for sure, but that is so not going to happen here. There are sooooooo many toys available these days and they all look like soooo much fun. You would think if children had a lot of variety they would play for hours. Surprisingly, having lots of toys doesn’t necessarily mean that children will be happy with their toys for longer.
I have learned that, as in so many other areas of life, less is more. My philosophy is that having a simple collection of well loved toys keeps children busy and happy, encourages learning, and develops their imagination. If they get bored with their toys–which happens almost never–they can draw or play outside or take a bath or help me with what I’m doing.
When I tally toys, I realize that we still have a LOT. I’m not even sure I should consider this as keeping it simple. Our toy list looks something like this:
Our toy collection:
In their room~
1 collection of Legos
1 bin of trains
1 bin of trucks and tractors and machines
a playmat with a road system
In the living room~
1 box of blocks
1 bin of animals
a basket of miscellaneous items
In the hall closet~
board games and puzzles
An art box with a collection of crayons, colored pencils, 1 box of markers, paint, chalk, scissors, glue, stickers, paper
In the attic for occasional rotations out~
large trucks they don’t play with when they’re out all the time
We also have~
Probably a few other toys I’m not remembering
So why, why, why if don’t have a myriad of toys do we have a mess all the time? You know that saying,
A place for
in its place?
Whenever I have a problem area where mess just happens and then has babies and multiplies, it’s because the things do not have a place of belonging!
I’ve noticed this all over the house, and I’m trying to–slowly–designate a home for everything. If it doesn’t belong anywhere then I need to consider whether or not I should keep it.
Oooookay. Deep breath. I got a little side tracked there. So I was going to tell you how I refreshed the boys’ toy system in their room. I’m SO excited about this because their room has not been despairingly messy for awhile.
When I was looking over their room, I realized that their magazines and activity books and notebooks were always in a mess. I decided to use a few magazine organizers to see if that would do the trick. (Spoiler alert: it did!)
At least a year ago I had gotten a few rolls of wrapping paper for $1 a piece at IKEA. Originally I had been planning to cover cardboard boxes to use in these storage cubbies, but surprise, I’d never managed to find three boxes that fit into this space. The magazine organizers were an odd collection that were busy and non-cohesive. Covering them made them work for the room and made me just giddy with happiness. I love the owl print!
Wrapping one of the boxes with Ian who wanted to be with me. Like WITH me. :)
So clean and streamlined and in fun colors. This makes me wish I’d have a before shot, so you could see the difference.
The box of trucks~
The box of trains~
A cutie pie enjoying the magazines~
Magazines, Notebooks, Activity books~
The boys all hate coloring, :'( so I got rid of all coloring books that don’t at least have dot-to-dots or something else they consider fun.
I’ve also learned that labeling is KEY to keeping a spot organized. Whenever I have labeled bins they stay categorized for months longer than when I’ve assumed people would remember which things go into which bins. These labels were some I had downloaded from Better Homes and Gardens and added my own text–very simple. I also covered them with contact paper and hot glued them to the boxes, so I have hopes that they will last.
I love his expression. :)
What’s great about organizing is how it makes the toys seem new again. The boys have looked and looked through these magazines since the re-do.
We used to store our Legos in a big bin. Every afternoon there would be this constant digging and digging and digging for that one certain piece. (The sound is especially delightful when you’ve had a frazzling morning and are excited for quiet hour) I had seen other people organizing Legos by color, so I decided to try that method.
[May I interrupt this organizing conversation to say that Legos are the BEST toys for boys?! We love them. Seth, one of the guys who works with Steve, gave the boys a HUGE collection that he had as a boy. The boys have played with them for countless hours. If you're ever looking for a gift for a nephew or little friend--let Legos be your go to. The boys have gotten several sets since then as gifts and they are always the most excited ever.]
From ^^^ to this:
Let me just say, so MUCH better. They can find specific pieces so much more easily now.
Yes, it is still a constant struggle to stay on top of picking up Legos. In some ways they dread putting them away more because they can’t just dump them all into one big space. On the other hand I will often designate certain colors to certain boys (Ian, you pick up blue Legos, Paxton pick up red Legos….) which helps keep them focused on a task vs. the job looking overwhelming.
The box slides under the bed when in storage:
The Legos have been organized like this for months. The whole Lego situation was hugely improved, but I still kept finding strays here and there and in random toy containers. Finally I realized that because it took so much effort to pull out the box, open the lid, and drop in a Lego when picking up toys they were just getting dropped into any old box. I can even understand that.
Soooo… we set a cup on Zachary’s desk to catch the strays. I think this is working, too. I had told them to be sure to empty it before they start playing with Legos, but I doubt that’s being kept up with. Still, emptying the cup now and then is no big deal!
[Since writing this I realized that adding the job of organizing the Lego box should be added to the boys' weekly chore list to stay on top of the stray pieces that get left on the bottom of the box instead of in their cups. When they do that job, they can first empty the Lego cup that holds stray pieces. Sa-weet.]
A bin for stray toys who don’t have their own category~
Now for the school and closet end of the room.
Instead of a dresser we keep the boys’ pajamas and undies in the bathroom, and all the rest of their clothes get hung in the closet. Because we homeschool (no uniforms/school clothes) and don’t need to wear dressy clothes to church, their clothes are categorized very simply–stay-at-home clothes and going-away-clothes. The clothes for staying at home are clothes that can get muddy and the jeans might have holes in the knees. :)
It is Zachary’s job to put away all the hanging clothes. We’re working on developing neat habits. :) Ian can put away his staying-at-home clothes and shoes and socks.
We also keep a box in the closet for clothes that have been outgrown but are still in good condition to pass down to the next brother. When it gets too full (as pictured) :) I take the clothing boxes out of storage and divvy them up.
Zachary’s school area. At the beginning of the year we worked up here all the time. The last few weeks we’ve been working on school downstairs, but everything still gets stored here in their room. (See: this was written before the 2013-14 year was over)
After a few weeks of the new clean up, their room has stayed nicely organized. They clean up their room every afternoon as part of their afternoon chores, but it is never a disaster. I’m quite happy with how it’s been working!
Every day the boys do a light room clean up during afternoon chore time. On Thursdays their room is a bigger job when clean areas that might get missed such as under the bed.
::Update. Yes!!! Small selection of toys + specific toy bins + labels + routine clean up is still working. They are little boys and their room is not neat all the time, but neither has it hit disaster zone. I continuously purge toys that don’t get played with and they really do not miss them. Overall I feel like this organization has been a win. They do a big clean up once a week, and I lightly re-organize their closet every few weeks. I am super happy with how manageable this has become for them.::