Toy Overwhelm: How to Organize Kids Toys

With Christmas just one week away, we are about to be overwhelmed with more stuff. Over the past few years we have scaled down on how much we buy and are very mindful of what we buy. But, there is still an inevitable influx of toys, especially around the holidays. Two years ago I created a playroom for my girls, which turned out wonderful. But, many other toys– especially art supplies and games– were spread throughout our home, causing chaos.

Last year our family had some big changes– our third baby arrived!– and we hired Corey from Organize My Space. I was drowning in too much stuff and had too little time, and Corey helped me get organized. I know many Moms are overwhelmed by toys … so Corey and I worked together to bring this toy organization post to you, to help you get organized, too!

Getting Started

1. Choose Your Toys

How many toys do you need or want? This step will be different for every family. For example, Corey’s son likes to go through his toys often and donate the ones he’s not using. My daughter, on the other hand, hangs on to every last McDonald’s toy like it’s a family heirloom. Find what works for your family and implement a system.

Toy downsizing ideas:

  • Do a reverse advent at Christmas, putting one toy for donation every day.
  • Follow a one-toy-in one-toy-out practice.
  • Only keep as many toys as will fit into your chosen storage (i.e. one basket of stuffed animals).
  • Sort and remove outgrown or broken toys. (With or without your kids).
  • Donate your toys to someone you know. This works best with my girls, they enjoy sharing their toys with their daycare or friends, knowing that they won’t be too far away.

2. Find a Space

How many different places do you store toys in your home? There were toys in nearly every room of our house. Corey brings a fresh perspective and quickly determined how to bring everything into fewer spaces. We didn’t isolate toys to one space (which is a common toy organization tip) but rather started using our spaces smarter. Corey suggested converting an underused mudroom utility closet into a space for art supplies and games that were spread throughout cupboards in the mudroom and office. As a result, we freed up cupboard space in our laundry area to keep all cleaning supplies together. And, we streamlined the coat closet, making it more functional and further de-cluttering the mudroom. We would not have thought of using this space so creatively without Corey’s help!

Utility Closet Before & After

Utility Closet Before

Utility Closet AfterCoat Closet Before & After

Coat Closet BeforeCoat Closet After

Storage Cupboards Before & After

Games Storage Before Mud-Laundry Cupboard BeforeLaundry Cupboard AfterMud-Laundry Cupboard After

3. Create Toy Zones

Which toys go where?  At our house, most of the toys are stored in the playroom. We have labeled bins for blocks, little people, dolls, Disney, cars, puzzles, and a general “toys” bin. These are toys the kids play with independently and this play area is on a separate floor from our main living space.

Playroom Storage

Our girls love arts and crafts and these supplies, along with play dough, games and puzzles– things they need our help with or like to do with us— are now stored together in the new toy cupboard. These toys are stored on our main living floor, which is also where we do these activities.

Utility Close After

Getting Organized

1. No Dumping Zones

Our living room storage ottoman was always overrun with toys; it quickly becoming a toy dumping zone. Once it became too full, the kids stopped playing with anything in it, because nothing was easy to find. We added smaller storage bins for a few types of toys in the ottoman. After testing this system out for a month, it works! The only catch: any toys scattered around the house need to go back to where they are stored and not be thrown in the bin (by us or the kids!)

Storage Ottoman BeforeStorage Ottoman After

2. Smart Storage

Corey is a mastermind at creating smart storage! She helped us find a creative and functional space and storage options by:

  • Removing as many bulky boxes as possible to create extra space.
  • Selecting clear, sturdy bins with easy-to-use latches for the toy cupboard. We labelled each bin to help the kids put things away properly. Labels with pictures are great for kids who aren’t reading yet, or for solid coloured bins.
  • Storing puzzles in small clear zip bags to keep all the pieces together.
  • Adding 4 shelves in the cupboard, with the top shelf narrower to provide more room on the shelf below and easier access, despite the height.
  • Grouping similar items on each shelf and putting the most used items on the lower shelves.
  • Creating a tall, open space at the bottom of the cupboard for storing doll strollers, bigger toys, and eventually baby push toys.Bin Storage
  • Puzzle StorageToy Storage After

5 Toy Organization Tips

  1. Look creatively at your space.
  2. Choose which toys to keep.
  3. Create zones for different types of toys.
  4. Use smart storage options.
  5. Show your kids how it works! They can’t keep something up if they don’t understand the process.

When to Hire an Organizer

Working with a professional organizer has changed our home and our lives. Corey brought new ideas and helped us organize this project from start to finish. Sometimes it takes someone external to help you get started and commit to finishing. Each organizing project that I’ve worked with Corey on has created not only more space, but more time. We now spend less time organizing the same things over and enjoy more space and less clutter! To help you start the New Year fresh and organized, Corey is offering my readers one free hour of organizing with your first session!* Learn more about out Corey’s organization services here.

This post is a collaboration with Organize My Space. All opinions shared are my own. *Special valid for new, four hour session bookings only. Please mention this post to claim. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this space fun! xo

Mama Writes


  1. Great ideas! I do the one toy in, one toy out rule and it really helps control the mess around the house and storage issues… especially during Christmas time. I could do better with having zones for toys though for sure

  2. Our house has an odd layout downstairs so it has two living rooms. One being the play room thankfully so my daughter can have her own space and use cubbies like you have.

  3. Decluttering is key all times of the year, especially right before the holiday onslaught. We just donated a TON and it helped us focus on the reason for the season.

  4. Toys have been getting out of control lately. I needed some motivation to get it organized. Thank you!

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