With Max's birthday quickly approaching AND Christmas two months later, I'm getting a mean case of the storage sweats. Gah, that term sounds awful! There's probably a reason no one has trademarked that one. Yikes! I'm sorry I went there, but I'm sure my fellow organization queens feel me. Anyone?! Alright, I'm talking about the panic that sets in when you feel the urge to keep ALL THE STUFF tidy. I've learned quickly that the bigger the child gets, the larger the toys are, and the easier it is to acquire way too much. As a product of the military lifestyle, purging comes second nature to me. From a young age I saw my mom do it regularly. I know it's necessary and needs to be done often to minimize chaos and clutter—especially if there's a kid in the mix! And while I really don't want my obsessive-compulsive tendencies to rub off on my child, I do want Max to know that everything has a place and purpose. It's been especially fun to watch him mature and make a concerted effort to put things away when he's done. In fact, he may even clap for himself once he's returned an item and I like to think that's because he also appreciates organization like his mama. We'll see if he still applauds his efforts when he's a teen. Ha Ha! I have a feeling our days are numbered.
Because the Monica in me could discuss a topic like this for days (but I'll spare you...), I thought I'd share a few tips I've found handy over the past two years in addition to a few of my favorite storage bins and baskets. And away we go...
- I typically decorate with a lot of color throughout the house. Since Max is a man on the move, it's very rare that he plays in just one spot. As a result, I've staged two main baskets in our living room and kitchen to distribute toys and books throughout our house. For this reason, I've opted to pick containers that are neutral or have some sort of textured/shiny detail. Between his toys and my knick-knacks, we run the risk of our house looking like a crayon box vomited all over the place, so I like to keep these organizational pieces simple and mature looking.
- Max's room has an eight-cube organizer unit (similar to this) that we got from IKEA. When he was little it also doubled as his changing station. We began using these striped bins to store toys in lieu of his diapers, wipes, etc, because his needs have changed and there was no longer a reason to store those items in that spot any longer. I like canvas bins like this because you can put stuff in them, you don't have to see any of it, and they're easy to clean. We currently fill half of the shelves with canvas bins and the other half is used to display/store books, toys, and tchotchkes. Because I like organizing a bit too much, I've designated each bin to a category of toys (i.e. dress-up items, animals, cars, and balls). I've found it's best to go through his toys every few months by dumping all the bins out and grouping them into various categories. I try to keep this part fairly general and not get too specific. This is clearly more for my sanity than Max's. However, I would like to maintain the four-bin rule because it forces me to go through his stuff more often.
- Because kids are often spoiled by family and friends, they typically end up with A LOT of treasures. For this reason, I try to split up Max's toys and store some of them in his closet. I've noticed that by swapping out his stuff on a regular basis, the toys remain a novelty and keep his attention for longer periods of time. Too much clutter can make anyone feel overwhelmed and overstimulated, so this technique benefits everyone—mostly yours truly!
- Some people might find this pointless, but because aesthetics and organization mean a lot to me, I opt to spend more money on bins and baskets that double as decor. Having one or two pieces like this keeps me from feeling like our house was taken over by a toddler. That being said, anything that ends up as storage in his closet doesn't have to be special. I load up on plastic tubs from IKEA, Walmart, Dollar General, etc. If we had a Target, I'd be ALL over it.
- No matter what stage your kid is at, these suitcase storage bins are invaluable. They originally held Max's teethers and tiny toys when he was an infant, but now they're used for Legos, wooden blocks, and art supplies. Since we have two sets, I like to keep one of the suitcases empty for Max to use on his own. Whenever I'm cooking dinner, working on a project outside, or we head into town to run errands, I inevitably need to keep Max entertained. These are all perfect opportunities for him to fill his suitcase with various books and trinkets from his room. I suppose it only makes sense that my kid gets a kick out of toting around boxes and bags. Monkey see, monkey do. Right?!
- Max and I share a bathroom, so I've devoted a drawer to his body lotion, shampoo, diapers, wipes, etc. When it comes to bath toys, we store them in this Boon Frog Pod. When I originally bought it, I had NO clue how handy it would be.
- As for books, we use this Babyletto Tree Bookshelf in addition to the primary shelving unit (mentioned above) and two of these metal locker bins. I anticipate Max's library will continue to grow, so I have my eye on this Linear Book Cart as one of our next big storage purchases. It might end up being a certain toddler's practical Christmas present this year.
- While I don't exactly have the extra cash to buy everything I'd like from Land of Nod, I do love poring over their catalogs for inspiration and ideas. The company has an impeccable way of incorporating colors and pieces that manage to appease both adults and children. When I look through their catalog, I try to pay attention to the little things like their whimsical details along with big-picture ideas such as the setup of bedrooms and play areas.
FEATURED BASKETS AND BINS:
Alright, I think I've rambled enough for now. If you have any questions or suggestions, throw them my way!