Monday, January 24, 2011

God Bless this Mess!

J. over at Rambling Renovators decided to share one of her family's messy secrets today. Namely, a dysfunctional entry closet that they cleaned up this past week. Inspired by J., I thought I would share our family's not-so-secret mess and show off my toy storage solution. It looks like this:

Yes, I realize that this is a tiny, tiny amount of toys - there are in fact a few other similarly sized piles elsewhere in the house - however, I still think a pile on the floor is not quite the level of decor solution that I'm looking for in my main living room.

We went to IKEA yesterday to do some brainstorming on solutions and came up with this option. This Hemnes cabinet would work well with Baby's books and we thought a good idea might be to mount something behind the glass - fabric or peel and stick frosting - to hide some of the chaos inside. 

A much more affordable solution would be the Expedit bookcase below that can be left vertical or used horizontally. I think it might provide more storage, but without doors, the toy-jumble remains exposed and the cubbies aren't very wide.

Anywhere besides IKEA that I should be looking? Anyone have some ideas I could use? 

In answer to, "where are the rest of Baby's toys?" there are quite a few downstairs in the den and a whole bunch up in her bedroom. We are trying to keep the toys to a reasonable minimum without reducing the fun factor around here by letting Baby play with other safe items around the house that she finds interesting like plastic water bottles and cardboard boxes and containers with rice or pasta and the pots, pans and tupperware. Her stash currently includes some wrapping paper from Christmas that she is interested in scrunching up. Another strategy was to take her to free play groups run by the Ontario Early Years program where you could play for a while with their toys and sign a few out to bring home and borrow. 

I often remind myself that children all over the world and in past ages were quite satisfied with only 2 or 3 toys and that the pile we have is indeed quite substantial!

That being said, I still want to get the ones we have up and off the floor!


  1. I don't know if you guys have access to, but I recently saw some cute upholstered storage benches... since your toy pile is petite, perhaps that would work for both you and the wee one (easy access, easy clean up). And I find media cabinets to have handy compartments that work well for many things (not just electronics). Perhaps another visit to IKEA? Good luck!

  2. I am a big fan of the expedit. In fact we have four of various sizes. One functions as our wardrobe and IKEA also has baskets that fit in the shelves to hide things. Most of the baskets are wicker but they do have some fabric ones as well, although I'm not sure how well they would hold up to kids. When I was little I had a toy chest and loved it because it was like Mr. Dressup's. It did make cleanup time super easy. Just remember "a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down."

  3. That distant guffawing you are hearing is the sound of me laughtin maniacally at what you consider to be a toy mess. My friend, you have only one child, and so far, she has only had one birthday. The number of toys increases exponentially with number of kids and number of birthdays.

    Here are some things to consider:
    -if you're doing Ikea, I also favour the expedit over the other cabinet. You can get storage boxes to fit the shelves so the mess could be well hidden, but still taken out and cleaned up by your child.

    In general, I find several smaller bins are always better than one large one. You can sort toys by type, and you are less likely to have every single toy pulled out and thrown on your floor as your daughter searches for that one favourite toy which is way in the bottom of the bin.

  4. So, that's two votes for the Expedit, though one vote privately from Rambling Renovators on the Hemnes. Another option I didn't mention was the Besta series which is pretty customizable. I'm trying to decide on how we are going to do our media unit and whether toys are going to be incorporated into that.

    I did mention that this is an inconceivably small pile for most parents. I don't agree with the idea that kids need more toys than they can ever play with. Really, can they do more than ten toys consistently in a week? Baby is more obsessed with the cordless phone than anything else she's got right now!

  5. It is a lot easier to have fewer toys if children are in daycare or pre-school. They play with all sorts of different toys there, which are also rotated on a regular basis to keep things interesting. Also, the children are doing less of their playing in the home in those situations.
    It's tricky to control the amount of toys as kids get old enough to remember receiving them (most of our toys were gifts) and notice when they are missing.
    I often wonder how to tactfully tell well-meaning relatives to limit the number (and the noisiness!) of the toys they give our kids. I don't want to seem ungrateful.

  6. KvD -

    Totally agree with you on the daycare front. It does make things a lot easier and so did using the local toy libraries when Baby was younger.
    I hear that kids start to notice, so that makes things hard.

    I guess one way might be to ask that the kids only be given birthday and Christmas toys and as kids hit ages 4+ start a policy with them that they need to choose one toy that is "too baby" for them or that they don't play with anymore to put/give away ahead of those dates?

    I'm not really in a position to recommend since I haven't had to deal with this yet - any other parents out there have a suggestion?

    The bigger question is whether we as parents are willing to limit our own toys just as scrupulously! (Do you purge your own stuff regularly and think twice about buying something that's not a need?)

  7. I am doing a house purge right now, getting rid of a lot of craft supplies that I have had for years and never used.
    I do try to think about what I allow into my house, since I know I am a pack rat and have a hard time getting rid of things once they are in the house.

  8. Sometimes I have a system whereby I do a big purge and put all the really good stuff sorted into the trunk of my car. Then I visit all my friends for about a week and allow them to go "shopping" from the car and after a week is done, the rest goes to charity.

    Another tactic is to put everything that you're not sure about getting rid of into a box. Leave it for a year. Anything you have to go and get from the box in that time, you keep. Anything you didn't touch in a year is already packed up and ready to be shared with others.


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