Living in New York City, you get really creative about organization. If you have two kids in 1000 square feet, you learn how to easily move things around. You learn how to hide things under the bed without them becoming gross and dusty, you master closet Tetris because you have to — it can be frustrating, but it can also be really fun, like a never-ending puzzle. But these lessons are good for everyone, not just those in small spaces, and there are some toy organization ideas you need, no matter how silly they seem.
If you're going from zero to organized, you'll need to first take an inventory of all the toys that you're planning on organizing. At this point it can be helpful to do a purge of toys that are broken, that your kids aren't interested in, or that otherwise are no longer in their rotation of play. This is not the time to be sentimental — it's the time to be brutal. Holding on to a precious stuffed animal gifted to your child from a grandmother is one thing, but holding on to a broken Elsa who now only sings "Let it...Let it...Let it..." is another. After that, arrange your toys by size and use, and determine which is the best toy for which area of your home. For example, keep the crayons by the table, and the bubbles by the door or in the garage. And then pick up these 10 items.
1. Craft Organizer Tote
M Design Art Supply Tote
You'll need more than one of these, trust me. Get one for just pencils, crayons, and scissors, and get another one for paint, glue, markers, and brushes. That way you only need to dump out one of them every few weeks for a run through the dishwasher. There are all sorts of these on the market, but I've found that Amazon has the best prices and best variety. They're also quite good for organizing the weird, little crap in your bathroom, so there's that.
2. Trays For Drawers
Pikmi pops, Little Green Men, LOLs, those incredibly annoying miniature Minecraft figures — they all have to go somewhere.
If you're a parent of a 3 to 10-year-old, then you know that there is a real trend toward tiny, surprise toys that come in completely covered boxes or balls. They are expensive, they are itty bitty, and because every YouTube toy influencer showcases them, they're extremely popular. You need something to do with all these toys. If you're not just going to throw them all in a bin and pretend you were never duped and thus never bought them, the next best thing is a tray organizer that fits in the drawer, like this one from Ikea.
3. Cereal Storage For LEGOs
OXO Good Grips 5-Piece POP Canister Set
The Container Store
I know, these are spendy. However, I promise these are the best for your money, and they can really take a beating. Seriously, my son, in a fit of pique, once threw a container full of these across the room. It hit the floor with a huge crash and stayed closed; it didn't even crack. They've had my loyalty ever since. These are perfect for LEGOs, checkerboard pieces, various USB and lightning cords to different toys, everything. They stack really well and they also lie completely flat in a drawer.
4. Over-The-Door Shoe Organizer
Over-The-Door Shoe Organizer
These things are the best for Barbies and action figures. Not only are they clear, so you can see who is where, they're pretty sturdy, too. You can fill the other spaces with things like sheets of stickers, play jewelry, headphones, and more.
5. A Bin With Wheels
Sockerbit Box With Wheels
This is a toy bin that holds and hides everything that you can move around easily. I cannot guarantee your children won't take everything out of it and wheel each other around pretending they're Uber drivers though.
6. A Bin You Don't Hate Looking At
Grey Nantucket Bin
The Container Store
You're not going to be able to hide everything. Some things are just going to be out all the time. That's why you need a storage container that doesn't make you regret having children every time you look at it. This model from my happy place, The Container Store, is quite fetching, and when your kids grow out of their stuffed possum and Snookerbittles phase, you can fill it with their soccer balls and tap shoes.
7. Closet Organizer
8 Shelf Organizer With 2 Drawers
This is an example of a solution for families with a decent amount of closet space, but maybe not a lot of floor space. This is a way to hide your kids' junk in a manner that gets everything separated and still easily accessible. If your kids can't reach the top shelf or two, you can throw seasonal clothing or bedding in those
8. Portable Closet
Home Portable Closet
Paint smocks, princess dresses, elaborate cosplay costumes that you've spent way more time on than your children possibly care about and you just want them treated nicely and hung up on a foam-covered hanger after your children are done dressing up as Sailor Neptune and Ami Mizuno — they all fit in this rolling wardrobe that can go from room to room, protecting precious goods.
9. Underbed Storage Box With Wheels
Long Underbed Storage Box With Wheels
The Container Store
Underbed boxes are a classic for a reason. These extra-long boxes have castors, making them simple and easy to use for your kids. This model is clear, so your kids know exactly what's inside without having to label each box.
10. Book Basket
Wicker Magazine Storage Basket
This seems really silly, but when you hear, "Just one more story" for the fifteenth time, you know that you need this beside your child's bed. Stuff it with their books of choice for the time being, a lovey, and you're set. Switch the books weekly, and that way you won't overwhelm yourself by re-shelving every night.