How to Organize Toddler Toys & Declutter

how to organize toddler toys

Today I wanted to talk about how to organize toddler toys. More specifically how decluttering and organizing the playroom has changed the way my kids play. Read: they entertain themselves for longer stretches of time. Win-win, mamas! There are a few things I did to achieve this and I wanted to share it in case you also struggle with toys spilling out of the playroom…


Simplicity Parenting

Shortly after the twins were born, I read a book called Simplicity Parenting. The book speaks to how today’s childhood is under attack by the busier, faster society our children live in. A very interesting read! One of my biggest takeaways was the premise that children actually play much deeper and longer when they aren’t surrounded by countless toy options. This is counter-intuitive because if you are anything like me our playroom was filled to the brim with toys. It was bad, guys. Toys were everywhere. As a parent, I felt pressure to buy ALL THE THINGS to make sure my kids were constantly entertained and developing at the appropriate speed. Add in twins and suddenly we had 2 of everything!

Pre-cleanout, our Houston house had a small playroom right off our master bedroom and I had to walk by that disaster multiple times a day. It stressed me out and the chaos made it hard for all of us to be in that room for very long. Honestly, many of the toys weren’t even getting attention anymore. They were broken or simply didn’t fit the twin’s age & development. Something had to be done.

Today I’m going to run you through what I did to get us a place where my kids actually play with their toys and we all enjoy being in the playroom. It’s a simple process really. The hardest part is just getting started.

how to organize toddler toys

Decluttering Your Playroom

The first step is decluttering. If a toy is broken or worn out, it goes in the trash. If we age out of a toy, I donate it or give it to a friend with a younger child.  A good initial cull gets you through half the battle. My biggest tip here is to do this first session while your kids are not around. These are the toys that they usually won’t miss but they may get upset if they see you getting rid of so many toys at one time.

If you are like me, you will most likely need to do a few rounds of decluttering to get to a spot where you have toys that are age-appropriate, in good working condition and are still fan-favorites. All the rest should be donated!

how to organize toddler toys

Sorting Your Toys

The second step is to take the remaining toys and sort them into two piles. The toys that stimulate creativity go in one pile and the single purpose toys go in another. The sweet spot is a toy that is well-made and can be used in a lot of different ways. For example, a play kitchen. We attempt to have a good mix of both in the playroom, but there are definitely a few favorites:

  • books, always
  • puzzles
  • blocks, legos, Magna Tiles
  • art supplies + Playdough
  • train set
  • play kitchen + food supplies
  • dollhouse
  • baby doll + crib + stroller
  • outdoor play: scooters, bubbles, chalk, water beads

If interested, I did a full post about great toddler gift ideas here. Most of the suggestions above are linked in that post.

I would suggest doing one more round of decluttering on the single purpose toy pile. Get honest about what the goal of each toy is and move a few of them to the donation pile or to a box for a rainy day/car ride.

how to organize toddler toys


The next step is to organize what you are keeping. The goal here is to make the toys easy to see (and clean up). I’m a huge fan of plastic containers to group similar items together. For example, we have a “car bin” and a “train bin”. This works well so when I tell Matthew to put all his cars away he knows they go into one large box. It has also been especially helpful since things like legos & their many small parts have come into the picture recently.


Monthly Toy Rotation

The final step is toy rotation. Our playroom came with built-in shelves (seen in the picture above) which are perfect to display toys. Each month, I rotate the toys in and out working with the shelves as my space constraint. If it doesn’t fit, it stays in our playroom closet until next month. I shared a picture of the playroom closet below. It’s not pretty but I think it gives you a good idea of the concept and why I like plastic organizers so much!

When the twins were really young I would do the toy rotation myself but now that they understand the concept we make it a fun activity together. At the beginning of the month, each child gets to go into the toy closet and choose 1-2 toys that they want to display. It’s a one in, one out concept so then they go choose 1-2 toys to put back the toy closet. They surprisingly do really well with this and are genuinely so excited to play with the “new toys”. I spend a few more minutes finishing it off by making sure we have a good mix available for play and organizing the toy closet. And finished!

One note: Occasionally throughout the month, they will ask to get out a toy in the closet and that is allowed, of course. I’m not too rigid about it.

how to organize toddler toys

I have noticed a huge difference in the level of play since making these changes.  They engage for much longer with the toys when there are fewer options!


Final Suggestions:

  • Start by reading Simplicity Parenting to get motivated & encouraged
  • If you want to get started on the minimalist train, I can’t recommend Allie Cassaza enough. She is the minimalism guru and has a great podcast.
  • Do one round of decluttering this week. Start now!

I hope this has been helpful today. As always, please let me know if you have any questions in the comments or you can shoot me an email. XO


  1. Laura Nachtigall
    September 23, 2019 / 6:27 pm

    hey girl- u saying that even the play kitchen and its accoutrements get put away for the month? i think i spied it with my little eye in your closet… about to get crazay up on our playroom! xo laura

    • valeriesmcfarland
      September 23, 2019 / 7:56 pm

      Hi friend! Yes, you spied that correctly. We also have a play food truck so I usually switch it back and forth with the play kitchen every other month just to keep the space a little more open and clear. If that wasn’t the case then I would leave the kitchen up year-round. Hope that helps and good luck! XO

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