Looking for toddler playroom organization ideas on a budget? We share our insights on toy storage and playroom furniture. Find out how we rearranged our baby boy playroom without breaking the bank. To be more exact, without spending ANYTHING. Check out our simple and easy approach and download our TODDLER PLAYROOM ON A BUDGET PRINTABLES.
HOW our toy & playroom organization BEGAN
We’ve all been there – the toddler playroom organization and toys storage dilemma. Should you give it a try one more time and put everything neatly back where it belongs according to you and cry when your 2-year-old dumps everything on the floor in every room of your house OR make him cry rearrange and declutter.
Well, in our case it was not that dramatic because it did not include bitter tears, but we tried both. After the first option did not work several times, it was time for a new approach. So, for both our sakes, we decided to change things up. Specifically, one month after Christmas after the toy clutter took over our house. First we thought about how to do it for few days and then we executed our master plan during his nap time, so we could avoid all the drama around it.
Our plan was to rearrange the toy storage in every room all together 968 sqft without breaking the bank. His toys are stored everywhere except in the bedrooms. We have toys in the living room, kitchen & hall and his playroom.
So, we decided to keep only the toys that will fit in our Ikea storage furniture. We were thinking about buying new storage, but there were two options. We either could buy more storage furniture or get rid of toys. Because of the fact, that we don’t have enough space neither for toys nor for more furniture, decluttering and playroom organization was the key.
Therefore, our goal was to have at the end less clutter, less or the same storage furniture and more space. At the end, we designed our playroom without spending anything. So, our playroom organization was cheaper than cheap.
And here is how it went.
First Things First: Identify The Source of Toy Clutter
First, I must say, that we are from the type of parents, who buy too many toys. Not on purpose. We would try to live like minimalists, but it’s not in our nature somehow. Also, there is just so much out there and we always want to try new things out. He is still our only child and his excitement is always contagious.
For all these good reasons, we end up as typical parents. Surveys have shown that a typical child owns 238 toys in total but parents think they play with just five per cent of their toys. That makes around 12 toys on a daily basis.
In our case, our son is now 2.5 years and owns probably more than 200 toys with perceived 1000 pieces. And needless to say – too many toys are not only unnecessary waste of money but more importantly, bad for your child.
There are studies that prove it, but even without them, we, parents know it. Too many toys, too much distraction, less playtime and more cleaning up. I feel more than overwhelmed with his toys and I just can hardly imagine how a 2-year-old feels with all the options he has. There is absolutely no way, he’ll be able to play with all these toys ever. So, he dumps them everywhere.
Therefore, our first step towards the toy storage and playroom organization, was to identify the source of toy clutter. And of course, that was the bitter realization that we are the origin of all coming evil, like Mr. Carl Gustav Jung famously said. So, we needed to fix that.
And the easy fix was an instant decluttering. Here are our 10 ideas for instant toy and playroom decluttering:
- Toys he does not play with daily
- Outgrown toys
- Plastic toys
- Broken toys
- Damaged books
- Broken pens, crayons, chalk
- Old DIY projects no longer in use
- Used one-time colouring books
- Used sketch and drawing pads
- Pieces that belong nowhere
Huh. We managed to collect 3 huge garbage bags of clutter in less than 90 minutes. The stuff that could not be used anymore, ended in the garbage, the rest was subsequently donated or given to friends for their growing babies.
Third, Toy Clutter Prevention
Consequently, to prevent a new toy clutter situation, we decided to set up 3 must-follow rules for us as toy junkies parents.
1. Buy a new toy only if 4 criteria are cumulatively met
We decided that for the future, we would buy a new toy, only if these 4 criteria are met: It should be wanted, needed, help build skills, and replace an old toy. You would be surprised, but it turns out, that it’s quite hard to meet these criteria at the same time. Good for us. Saves us lots of money, time and space.
2. Don’t buy or create an additional toy storage, use what you have
The first thing we wanted to do, when we saw that our toddler has too many toys, was instantly to want to buy more toy storage. Or to create additional toy storage, so that we have where to put the toy clutter. We already had in our playroom a $69 Ikea Trofast Storage combination, $79 Ikea Kallax sideboard and his Ikea Sundvik changing table that was transformed and used as a chest of drawers. That’s certainly more than enough toy storage. Therefore, we decided to use what we have and this was a good decision.
3. Declutter on a regular basis
How to avoid the toy clutter? The most important thing is to follow number 1 and additionally declutter toys on a regular basis. So, to avoid the toy clutter, just set up an hour or two in a month and scan your toddler’s playroom for the above mentioned items and get rid of them. That really helps!
Fourth, Smart Toy Storage Furniture
Finally, once we got rid of the toy clutter, we used the storage that we had already:
- $69 Ikea Trofast Storage combination
- $79 Ikea Kallax sideboard
- His old Ikea Sundvik changing table.
Good news, the bulk of the remaining toys fitted in our $69 Ikea Trofast Storage combination. We even left two boxes empty – one big and one small one. Those are great to make either a pouring station or sensory bins. We put the Trofast Storage in the hall way and freed up some space in the playroom.
Then, we put all of his books and the rest of his language and art materials on our Kallax sideboard, that also divides the room.
Also, since he is long past his diaper stage, we transformed his Ikea Sundvik changing table in a chest of drawers for his puzzles, art materials and numbers puzzle foam mat.
Finally, Set and Follow Rules for your Playroom Organization
So, what is the best way to organize toys? We decided to set only two must-follow toy organization rules. That’s certainly easy to remember for all of us. The first rule is for us, the second for him.
A. Categorize & Create busy boxes
B. Playtime – one box at a time
A. Categorize & Create busy Boxes
From our playtime, we know, one thing for sure. When Aiden plays he plays with a category of toys. For example, when he plays with cars, he doesn’t play with anything else. When we learn letters and words, we do just this activity.
Therefore, the key to our toy & playroom organisation was to categorise the toys according to function and activity. Our goal was to organise the toys in a way, that Aiden will adopt intuitively. Simple and easy to follow and to remember.
We have the toys in every room of the house. At the end, he is at home and we all have our belongings everywhere around the house.
We wanted him to have enough space in his playroom and to be able to move freely. He is very active and loves movement.
In his playroom he has now 7 activity corners:
- Simple Wooden Market Play Store
- Yellow Jumping Station (an IKEA step stool (Trogen $19) for Gross Motor Activities
- Workbench with Tools
- Puzzles corner
- Toy Farm & Bus Station
- Co-working space (children’s table with chairs Ikea LÄTT $29)
We turned the Kallax sideboard in a tiny library. All of his books and the rest of his language and art materials are stored now there. The first shelf is exclusively early math activities, the second reading activities and the third and fourth are housing his wipe and clean books.
His old Ikea Sundvik changing table is now a chest of drawers for his puzzles, art materials and numbers puzzle foam mat.
We put the Trofast Storage in the hall way and freed up some space in the playroom. We have pretty big hallway and the storage fits there perfectly fine. Thus, we created 9 busy boxes in our Trofast Storage:
- Empty Box for Pouring Station
- Wooden Letters & Words
- Wooden Building Blocks, Shapes & Numbers
- Finger Puppets & Super Heros
- Art Activities
- Empty Box for Sensory Bins and similar activities
Additionally, we created a Music & Art corner in the hallway with his drawing materials and musical instruments.
His play kitchen is in our real kitchen and a storage for his cooking materials.
The toy storage in the living room is limited to 2 white baskets – the one a house for his stuffed animals and the other a storage for his balls.
B. Playtime – one box at a time
Montessori inspired, we are implementing a rule, that works well so far – one box and activity at a time. Believe it or not, but since the toy storage is in the hallway , there is no more box after box out. For this one, persistence and repetition is the key.
Our Playroom Organization Outcome
Small changes made for us big differences. No more all toys out and a cluttered playroom. Now Aiden has enough space to play and concentrate on his activities. See it for yourself:
A recent study by University of Toledo published in Infant Development and Behaviour shows that an abundance of toys present reduced quality of toddlers’ play. In other words, children who have too many toys are more easily distracted.
We decided to implement the insights from this study at home. Fewer toys at once may help toddlers to focus better and play more creatively. So, pack away most of their toys and just rotate a small number regularly.
Well worth to try it out.
Happy Playing and Organizing!
Looking for activity ideas for your new playroom? Check out these ones here.