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project:simplify • kid stuff

Friday, 25 March 2011

As I mentioned on Tuesday, this week’s Project:Simplify hot spot came around at the perfect time. Last week, in a fit of pique after tripping over toys Julia refused to put away, I bagged up nearly every toy that was out on the floor—I left the ones that actually belong on the floor, of course—and put them in a closet upstairs.

This experiment—a perhaps more harsh version of something George and I had been talking about doing for several weeks, but hadn’t made the time to do yet—was surprisingly successful. The toys that remained included music makers, dress-up toys, Lego-style blocks sized up for toddler hands, stringing beads and lacing cards, crayons and paper, a few puzzles, and a rocking duck. The kids—mostly Julia, because Asher mostly gravitates to the music toys these days—didn’t seem to notice anything was missing, which I suppose is unsurprising given that what they did with the rest of their toys generally involved dumping them all in a pile on the floor and then walking over them.

So this week, I began in earnest to cull their toy collection of all but the toys they really love—the ones they play with regularly and that I know they would miss if they were to disappear forever. I didn’t take any “before” pictures because the shelves were fairly empty before I started, what with most of the toys bagged up in the closet upstairs.

We don’t really have a designated “play area” in our house—everything sort of flows together in our living areas.

The kids’ toys are concentrated in the living room—

and the dining room—

By necessity, most of their toys are stored in the dining room, but they generally play in the living room, which makes things a little inconvenient right of the bat. But we have to work with what we’ve got, and what we’ve got is more room for storage in the dining room than we have in the living room.

Starting in the dining room & working my way around, this is what we ended up with—

:: on the shelves ::

{julia’s kitchen things—which will be moved onto the porch, where her toy-kitchen-in-progress lives, when the warm weather comes around to stay}


{a basket of playsilks—these lived with julia’s dress-up clothes before, and may yet move back there, but I wanted to see how putting them in their own basket worked as far as organization}


{asher’s favourites—on low shelves, easy to reach and easy to put away}


{higher up—tape player, blocks, beads & lacing cards, etc.}


:: at the table ::

{julia’s little table is great for tea parties, feeding her baby doll, and crafts}


{on the low wall between the living room & dining room—paper & crayons and play clay}


:: in the living room ::

{dress-up clothes and a little footstool so julia can reach the things on the half-wall}


—I am not sure what the problem is, but some of these pictures are really blurry. I am going to go ahead & blame my kit lens, which I used so I could get shots of the whole living room, and vow to never, ever use it again if I can possibly avoid it.—


{rock-rock, a bead toy, and the rocking duck}


{julia’s books, on the second-lowest shelf}


{asher’s books, on the lowest shelf, in a basket for easy access—and easy clean-up}


{music-making toys—which I almost feel should be in front of the stereo, but they “fit” better here, so here they stay…for the moment}


I focused my efforts on our downstairs living areas; both kids have (empty) toy boxes in their rooms, but neither of them plays upstairs often, so there isn’t much in the way of toy clutter up there. I’m considering storing some of the “rotation” toys in their toy boxes and rather than rotating them in & out every few months, making them “upstairs” toys that they can play with when they play in their rooms. Not sure how that is going to work; that’s on my agenda for tomorrow. Depending on how successful I am, I may post about it as well…

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday, 25 March 2011 4:32 pm

    Nice job! Some of the kids toys were in our dining room as well, and I think we both got so sick and tired of putting them away we tossed like 95% of them last week. I actually felt bad for removing toys from the kids rooms, but they don’t play in there much anyways. Well, Lilia does, during her “nap” time (which is now called afternoon play time in your room.) but Liam hardly does at all unless we go up there too.

    I can’t wait to do our basement (and for it to get warm) so the toys can start to gravitate to our extra space.

    Of course, none of it really matters- in the end, the kids will spill out their toys, mess their rooms, and bring they toys they like downstairs until all the toys consume all the space of our house. It’s like a losing battle!

    • Friday, 25 March 2011 5:30 pm

      I was thinking while I was taking the pictures that this was the last time it was going to look so nice! Although I find that with fewer things to throw around, Julia is better about picking up after herself. (Asher’s still a little young but he “helps” pick up.)

      I can’t wait until it stays warm for more than a day at a time, either. We have two screened-in porches that the kids can play on & it will be nice to get some of this stuff out of our living space & spread it out a little.

  2. Friday, 25 March 2011 8:52 pm

    Great job! I love all of the baskets for corralling toys and books. I find them so helpful considering kids really don’t have the attention span (and often the dexterity) for meticulously putting toys away. I also love how well the toys are integrated into your house without screaming WE’RE TOYS!

  3. Saturday, 26 March 2011 1:17 am

    Excellent job! There aren’t toys in my kids rooms because they like to play together and they like to play wherever I am. That’s why I put their toys and my toys (sewing stuff) in the same room in hopes that we’d both get to use them more. We do!

  4. Rhona Cadenhead-Hames permalink
    Sunday, 27 March 2011 7:04 pm

    the place looks great… love the red shelves (did you paint them?). I have a shelf with four big square baskets- but everything ends up in them. We are getting some ‘built in’ shelves with drawers and shelves and I plan to try and consolidate. I am pleased to report that the kids now keep a lot of their toys in their rooms as they like to go up there and play with stuff. So – dream vision is just to keep toys hidden in the new units and everything else gets pitched. My issue is I get such great deals on toys (or they are handed down) and the kids aren’t currently playing with them… I don’t want to just ditch them as they may get into them in a couple years… it’s like that ‘problem’ of too many handmedowns… Not really a problem at all- just a storage issue. But…. your place looks lovely and neat and clean…. excellent job!

  5. Monday, 28 March 2011 9:47 am

    Great job! Isn’t it refreshing to get it cleaned out and organized? I love these challenges! Thanks for your nice comment about my chalkboard tags!

  6. Thursday, 31 March 2011 4:56 pm

    Great job-I love seeing everyone’s transformations, they are so inspiring! Your kiddos have a great toys, love your choices.

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