Learning to Clean

Simplified Toy Organization

This is a guest post from the lovely Cori Maag (see her bio below). Although I don’t have kids of my own, I found myself nodding along and agreeing with this genius system for organizing toys. Once you’re done, Pin this blog post, share it with your friends with kids and go visit Cori’s blog: thismaagnificentlife.com ! Enjoy!

One of the most overwhelming side-effects of having our wonderful children- all.the.toys. Amirite? Somehow, they get everywhere. Honestly, I think the creators of Toy Story are onto something. It’s the only plausible explanation. I mean, how else could they continue to be everywhere, when I distinctly remember putting them away?

 So, I decided to take away the overwhelm, and implement a toy organization system, so easy, my toddler could do it.

A toddler's room where all of the toys are organized. This blog post will talk about how to get your child's room looking this organized.

What you need:

Time, motivation, a variety of tubs with lids, and… maybe some backup.

If possible, do this when the kids aren’t home, or, if you are brave, encourage them to help.

Step 1: Gather All the Toys

Round up all the toys, and bring them into a big, empty space. You are about to embark on the most challenging (and, I’ll admit) the most overwhelming aspect of organizing the toys… sorting them.

Big Picture: the way you sort the toys will determine which tubs the toys go into.

As you sort the toys, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. You want to find pieces and parts that are part of a set. Put similar types of toys together. Take the time as you are going through the toys and pull toys out to donate or throw away.

Make as many piles as you want or need initially. You will probably be able to consolidate your piles, once you’ve sorted through all the toys and you know what “categories” you are working with.

To help you get started, and bring some clarity if I’ve confused anyone, here is how I’ve got my son’s toys organized. We sorted the toys into natural groupings.

  • PJ Masks
  • A tub for each kind of block sets (we have the big Legos, smaller Legos, and building blocks)
  • Cars
  • Plastic animals
  • Little people and figures
  • Big toys
  • Take-Apart Truck
  • Trainset
  • Tabletop Activities
  • Puzzles
  • Arts & crafts
  • Imagination/dress up

When my toddler wants to play with his PJ Mask toys, he can walk into his closet, grabs that tub, and knows that all his PJ Mask toys will be there.

My son’s PJ Mask bucket. Included are the PJ Mask characters, cars, parts to his “HQ,” and accessories.

Step 2: Start Sorting

Now that you have the toys sorted, you can begin placing them in tubs! I do recommend that you purchase clear tubs, so you and your kids can see what’s inside.

I opted to forgo labeling our tubs, for a few reasons. I doubted that temporary labels would last long, and I want to be able to reuse the tubs when he’s outgrown his current toys, so permanent labels wouldn’t work.  

Once you have filled the tubs, find a place to store them. You can decide if you want them out of reach, so only you can get them down, or if you want to place them where your kids can get them on their own.  

This is my toddler’s closet. The toys on the top shelves are not used very often and so are harder to reach for my toddler. Containers are used to keep like toys together and make them easy to take out.
Stuffed animals are on the bottom shelf.

This is a picture of my toddler’s closet. I have large tubs stored at the top. These have items we don’t use often. The second shelf holds all the non-board books. The third shelf holds the tubs. The fourth shelf has his stuffed animals. The bottom shelf is currently empty.

Plastic containers or tubs could be used for organizing toys. Ideally they would be the same shape and colour, but I used the containers we already had to be thrifty.

A close up of the tubs. Ideally, I would have all matching tubs, but I was trying to be thrifty, so I used some that I already have.

Some toys are stored in our child's old changing table which we no longer use for that purpose. It provides extra storage without spending more money.

We repurposed his changing table for additional storage. I decided to store toys that he plays with frequently in there since the drawers are easy to open.

His toybox filled with his big toys.

Bigger toys are organized in the toy chest.

His board books are easily accessible.

His board books are organized on a short shelf which makes it accessible for him.

Why this system?

You might be wondering why I decided to organize the toys this way. 

Reason 1:

It helps me stay organized AND it is teaching my toddler how to be organized and responsible. The rule is, he can only play with the toys from one tub at a time. When he is finished playing with those toys, he has to clean and put them away. Then he can play with different toys. It’s extremely effective. He recognizes that each toy goes in a particular tub. He’ll often come to me and say, “Mom! We have to put this toy in the bucket.” Or, “where is the bucket for this toy?” It makes me so happy to see him grasping this concept so well so early.

Reason 2:

It makes cleaning so much easier. If you stick with the rule in Reason 1, you can clean in considerably less time. Even if things got a little crazy that day or week, and somehow all the toys are everywhere again, it takes no time to get reorganized. In fact, I was able to get his toys picked up and his closet reorganized in about 20 minutes- and that includes picking the toys up throughout the house.

When you have a plan and a place for everything, you remove the overwhelm. 

Reason 3:

It helps rotate the toys. Instead of my toddler being overwhelmed because he has so.many.toys to play with, he can easily find and play with toy sets. In my opinion, this promotes better learning. How? When you keep all the parts and pieces of one toy together, they can learn how they are supposed to play with that particular toy.

My son’s “Take-Apart-Truck,” for example, the pieces got scattered right from the beginning. He was never able to play with that truck, the way it was designed to be played with. Until, I took the time to sort through his toys, put the pieces in one place. Now, he is able to learn and play the way that toy was made for.  

As a busy mom, with so many demands on your attention, creating a simple toy organization system will free up much-needed margin. An added bonus? It teaches your kids some responsibility! They will learn that they have to pick up their toys before they can play with different toys. Eventually, you won’t even have to ask- they’ll just do!

This weekend, take the hour or two to get the toys organized! You’ll be thanking yourself.

Have a Maagnificent Day!


Cori Maag is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. Her blog, thismaagnificentlife.com is all about life as a SAHM and Oilfield Wife. Her goal is to provide encouragement, guidance, and community. You’ll find resources, tips, and tricks to help with everyday problems.

Feeling overwhelmed with cleaning? Read this article: How to Overcome Cleaning Overwhelm


  • Jenn Summers

    You are so incredibly organized! In my house, it seems no matter how much I try to get everyone organized its complete chaos in a week. Hoping one day that shall change. Thanks, for the great ideas. I’m gonna have to try the clear bins.

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