What's more inviting: a living room with Legos and dolls scattered all over the floor or one that's neat and organized? For most people, tidy wins out. Maybe that's because, as a study in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found, a lack of clutter can reduce stress levels - all the more reason to get your kids' toys under control. Our expert tips help you clean up and contain the chaos.
1. Evaluate What You Have
Do this first. As you sort, put the toys into separate piles - all the Hot Wheels go in one pile, the MagnaTiles in another, the Polly Pockets in a third.
"Pull out anything that's broken or worn out or that the kids have outgrown," says Jeffrey Phillip, a professional organizer and designer based in New York City. "Donate anything that's still in good condition."
2. Store Like Items In Clear Plastic Bins
See-through storage means you'll never wonder where the Beanie Babies are since you'll know what's inside each bin with just a glance. Place bins without lids on low shelves to make it easier for little hands to grab and later put away. (With any shelving unit you install, always bracket it to the wall so it doesn't tip over and injure anyone.)
3. Attach Tension Rods To Create a Closet
If you've got a youngster who has lots of American girl dolls - or any other doll - the designer suggests hanging the little outfits on a tension rod in a small cabinet or bookshelf.
4. Install a Hanging Mesh Basket In the Bathroom
Not only is it a convenient place to store bath toys, but also the mesh allows rubber duckies to air out, thwarting mildew growth.
5. Consider Under-the-Bed Storage
"This is really great for keeping Legos in one place," Phillip says. "Kids can start doing projects in the bin and leave them there to finish later." Look for a low rolling cart to make accessing them (and putting them away!) super easy.
6. Hang an Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer
The pockets are just deep enough to keep small toys like Shopkins and Barbie accessories, as well as art supplies such as glue sticks and scissors, from ever getting lost again. Install it at the appropriate height for kids to reach without assistance.
7. Use Large Zipper Plastic Storage Bags
"They work well for puzzle pieces because they're see-through, and the original boxes always get destroyed," Phillip says. He likes to cut out the picture of the puzzle from the front of the box and tape it to the bag.
8. Attach a Series of Clipboards To a Wall
It's an efficient way to show off your kids' art masterpieces. And, since the clip holds up the artwork, you can easily change it every day if you've got a particularly prolific artist. "It also eliminates the expense of having to buy frames," says Phillip, "and teaches children about prioritizing which artwork they want to feature each day."
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