Reducing Clutter with a Toy Library

Toy Library

We have organized a toy library to help keep the toys in our home manageable.

For a while, we had a toy rotation but they still had too many choices. When our kids have too many toy choices, they just drag everything out but don’t really play with anything – too many choices can overwhelm young children.

Our children tend to play better if their toys are not all out at once. Allowing them to choose a toy or two to play with at a time helps them to engage more deeply in their play. Plus, there are fewer toys out so our house is not over run with toys.


Cooking Drawer

All of their toys are not always stored in the library. We currently have 3 drawers in the end of their bunk bed that contain imaginative play things. One drawer holds their play dishes and two drawers hold their dress up things. These are always accessible.

The rest of the toys are organized in the toy library in their closet.

To organize our toy library, we evaluated each of their toys.

Toys that Stayed:

  • Sparked creative play
  • Building toys
  • Musical Instruments

Toys that Went:

  • Battery operated
  • Close ended toys
  • Low quality toys

After culling toys, we sorted the remaining toys into categories like trains, farm animals, cars, blocks, etc. We then grouped like toys together into bins to store on the shelves.

Toys

At the beginning of the day, they choose the toys they want to play with. If one boy wants to play with the farm animals, he gets the bin that holds the farm animals as well as the play barn and tractors. Another boy may choose to play trains so he gets the bin that contains all of the trains and train tracks.

They can play with these toys individually or together, it’s up to them. We just ask that they pick up those toys and put them away before choosing another toy or toy bin to play with.

At 3 and 4, they’ve not quite mastered putting the toys away before choosing another but they’re learning. I often encourage them and help them with the pick up process.

With this toy library set up, the amount of toys throughout our home during the day has been greatly reduced. There still are toys all over their room and in our living room but every toy they own has not been pulled out.

Another benefit of this toy library, clean up is simple. At the end of the day, we put the toys back into the bins or drawers they belong in. It only takes a few minutes to pick up and all tripping hazards have been removed for the night.

Related posts:

Toy Rotation

Gifts to Encourage Creativity in Young Children

How do you organize your children’s toys? 

Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links.

responses to “Reducing Clutter with a Toy Library” 17

  1. A toy rotation never worked for us either, it's still too many toys out! We are getting shelves built in our playroom/homeschool room and while I will have the space to have every toy out, I'm not going too. Our girls pull out everything if they get overwhelmed with too many toys as well. Nyla helped me organize some toys to prepare for our shelves and when we put some things away and her tinker toys were available, she immediately started building different things. One thing at a time is the best way!

    I'm struggling with clothes now. I don't buy a stitch of clothing, just the grandmothers. How many shirts and pants do your boys have? We have way too many dresses too. I constantly have a giveaway box but I still feel overrun with clothes. How do you manage??

    1. Isn't it amazing how they dive into concentrated play when the clutter is gone? I think girls tend to have more clothes than boys since dressing boys is so simple. Each of my boys has a dresser drawer for their 'play clothes' and hanging space for their nicer clothes as well as a small drawer for pjs, underwear and socks. I let the space be the limiting factor – if/when the drawers are too full, it's time to get rid of some things. My 4yo has 5 pair of 'good' pants (jeans, khakis) and 4 pair of 'play pants' (jeans with holes) and about 12 shirts (t-shirts, flannel button ups, plaid button ups). My 3 yo has a few more pants and shirts than big brother because he receives big brothers hand-me-downs and also receives a few new items from grandparents since they enjoy buying clothes for the boys. The thing that makes dressing boys simpler – everything goes with everything. Sure, a pair of nicer khakis may look a bit silly with a t-shirt but they don't clash! I'm trying to keep things simple for baby girl too. Currently she has two dresser drawers with her clothes/pajamas and has a couple dresses hanging in the closet.

      1. Thanks for this!! I keep things in one drawer as well, and also cut things out when the drawers get too full. I still feel like it’s way you much. I’m so overwhelmed!!
        As I get NG’s clothes down from the attic, I weed out more. I just got the 9 months clothes down and I think I piled 12 onsies to our giveaway box, I think I still have 12 more. Too much!!
        And the dresses in the closet, ugh. My mom likes to sew, plus she kept a few I wore and likes to shop. It’s a constant clothes battle in our home. 🙂

  2. Love this idea! I have never been able to implement a toy rotation for our kids. I just never found the time/a way to get it all organized! They have access to most of their things 24/7 which leads to days when every.single.thing is out – mostly thanks to a curious littlest brother! We are now on the verge of (hopefully) moving out of our apartment so I am de-cluttering toys like crazy and am so, so excited to (again, hopefully) have a new space this spring so I can, essentially, start from scratch with our organization. Oh, the ideas I have – some from your posts even! It'll be so exciting to (hopefully) make some of them a reality!

    1. Completely understand the curious littlest sibling – our baby is now on the move and into the boys stuff! Excited for your upcoming move — can't wait to hear about the organization of your new home!!

  3. Just wondering, what kinds of bins are those and how big are they? I have one shelf that is very similar to the one in the picture and I have an Expedit shelf from Ikea but no one really sells the bins that fit in the cubbies except for Ikea (1 1/2 hr away). Thanks!

  4. Such a nice organized closet! I think that boys not only have fewer and simpler clothes, also their toys are more easy to handle/sort through. I have a 5y old boy and an 8y old girl and her things look rather quickly messier than my boys stuff. She likes all the tiny, shiny, girly stuff and gets it from her grandparents. He loves lego and it is easier to pick up and put it in his lego bin.
    A little unrelated to toys but how do you handle your paper clutter? (Bills, letters, mail,..)
    And what do you do with all the kids art work? (Paintings, 'sculptures' …)
    I can't seem to find a good system in that (bills are paid always on time though, it is just the documents to file) it accumulates in a pile on the corner of the kitchen counter (no office room or desk here) and It feels like I'm always behind.

  5. Actually reading this type of post is worth. My marriage is now almost 2 year and next year I'm gonna be a father. I've already started organizing toy room for my kids. And this post suggested ideas are very inspiring for me.

  6. I always like comparing the best options for toys before buying them, but I never had any confusion about the quality of Kidkraft dollhouse, because I have read many positive reviews about it on the web space, so I didn’t hesitated in getting the best one for my daughter.

  7. kids are like to play with green toys where their favorite color is pink or blue. most of the boy baby are like to use blue color toys and also we are decorating boy baby room with blue colors. on the other hand we are decorating girl baby room is pink color. But the best thing is we just keep in mind the necessity of our kids.

  8. It is not actually possible to de-cutter my home in the presence of my kids and their friends, so I allow them to play with them as long as I remain busy in handling household choruses. ~ Click here >

  9. Really perusing this kind of post is worth. My marriage is currently right around 2 year and one year from now I'm going to be a father. I've just begun arranging toy space for my children. What's more, this post recommended thoughts are exceptionally rousing for me.

  10. My kids and their friends are too naughty and uncontrollable, so I allow them to play in the basement otherwise they will spread toys in the entire home. Actually, the basement has already turned into a huge toy library.
    Thanks!
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    1. I’m starting the design for a toy library in my kids playroom and I have a question, how do you keep the kids from grabbing the toys themselves? My kids are 2 and 4 so I can totally see this being a problem with this concept. Do you keep your kids’ toys out of sight? Thanks!

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