Tag Archives: toy storage

My Kids Live Here

3 Jul

A few days ago I was perusing Pinterest, not really looking for anything in particular.  I started looking at the home decor pins and then, out of sheer curiosity, searched “kids rooms”.  I scrolled through the various pictures of themed bedrooms, incredible one-of-a-kind beds and rooms with things like swings, slides and rock walls (my kids would never sleep!)  I began to think about my kids bedrooms and my friends kids bedrooms.  How eclectic they were, even when they had a theme.  These catalog rooms as I like to call them, are unrealistic!  I cannot imagine giving my kids one theme, for instance.  “Oh you like cars?  Ok, we will have a car shaped bed that you will only use for a short time, car bedding and fancy curtains with car tiebacks.  Maybe we will paint a road on your floor too.  Oh and you can’t hang anything on your walls because I have meticulously placed car artwork and that is all that can be hung.  And don’t take out any toys.”

I know the majority of these rooms are staged by designers . .  . but they set unattainable goals for parents wishing to give there little cherubs their dream room.  A room that the kids will be so enamored with they will just sit on their perfectly made castle-shaped bed and stare at the walls, smiling for hours.   As parents, we want our kids to have everything.  We want them to be cozy and happy.  Maybe we, even if secretly, want to one-up that snooty mom from the PTA who brags about her kids and how they have beds shaped like tree houses or pizza or whatever.   Maybe we want to be that Pinterest mom or dad.  The one who blogs about there immaculate home and pins pictures of perfect rooms and fabulous DIYs that never go awry.

Maybe not.  I don’t have that dream of having the”perfect” home.  My home is perfect for my family.  It’s not fancy or designed to belong in a Better Homes and Gardens spread.  I know I’ve shared pictures in the past of the boys rooms when I’ve done projects in them, but I wanted to share my lived in real rooms.  I didn’t stage them for you, I didn’t take out all their toys before I snapped the pictures.  These aren’t fake rooms, these are real rooms that belong to real boys.  They did clean their rooms last night, so at least you don’t have to see Big A’s dirty laundry all over the floor or the entire contents of Little C’s books shelf scattered across the room because he was looking for a specific book.

First, here are the “catalog rooms” for comparison:

Where are the stuffed animals?  Blankets?  Anything?!

Where are the stuffed animals? Blankets? Anything?!

Notice the only objects in the room and on the walls fit the nautical theme

Notice the only objects in the room and on the walls fit the nautical theme

See what I mean?  kids don’t live in these rooms!  Not unless they are extremely OCD and never leave a single out of place ever.

Here are the boys lived in rooms:

It's a bedroom a kids can actually go in!

It’s a bedroom a kids can actually go in!

Notice the lack of a theme?  Well a few years ago it was loosely Star Wars.  About a year and a 1/2 ago I painted the Lego Ninajas for the wall.  For his birthday I painted the creeper from Minecraft. . .  so it’s a mishmash.

He’s got his own style, you know . . . that of a 9yr old boy!  He hangs stuff on the walls with tape, usually leaves his soccer uniform on the floor, stinky socks and all.  On the little wall shelves hang various medals from sports and school.  A few trophies on the ledge.   There are birthday balloons left over from his party a few weeks ago.  This is not a catalog room.   It’s my son’s room.


Look, stuff hanging on the walls!

Look, stuff hanging on the walls!

A cluttered mix of toys and things.  So, so many things in this room

A cluttered mix of toys and things. So, so many things in this room

Little C’s room went from baby to big boy.  He sleeps with just shy of a thousand stuffed animals, his “guys”, and way too many blankets!  His bookshelf is a cluttered mess!   His cubby is supposed to  have more of those nice colored buckets in it to hall all his toys, but the kids like to load them up with stuff and take it upstairs or into another room.

There is no theme in his room.  When we switched to big boy, I took Little C to the store and said “pick out what you like”.  He chose the reversible blue comforter, the green curtains, and he has bright orange sheets you can’t see.  The art on the walls I painted of all his favorite characters.  No theme.  Not catalog.  Just real.
















Now, you want to see the BEST comparison?  Hehehe!  Playrooms.

Catalog playrooms are laughable.  There is no play in them!

Kids, sit on that sofa and don't move a muscle!

Kids, sit on that sofa and don’t move a muscle!

Stark, bare, no toys . . . I’m sure they are all hiding where nobody can see them.  But playrooms should have clutter!  They need kid-made art on the walls!

I'm sorry Timmy, you aren't allowed to play with those toys.

I’m sorry Timmy, you aren’t allowed to play with those toys.

Why do they show a playroom where the kids cannot reach the majority of the toys?


Ok, you ready for this?  THIS is our playroom:

The only thing up high are their piggy banks and my movies

The only thing up high are their piggy banks and my movies

There are Legos EVERYWHERE!  You know what is really funny?  They just cleaned this room 2 days ago!  I’m not crazy obsessive about this room.  The way I see it, this is the one room where the boys run the show completely.  Their bedrooms need to be cleanish because otherwise they can’t have sleepovers, I can’t vacuum and the dog can’t sleep with them.  The playroom, while I do make them clean it, is always cluttered and rarely spotless.  It’s not for show, it’s for play.

My kids art work graces all the walls in their playroom

My kids art work graces all the walls in their playroom

We do use cubbies, but we don't feel the need to hide our toys either.

We do use cubbies, but we don’t feel the need to hide our toys either.

What’s my point here?  My point is this: Don’t beat yourself up when you flip through magazines or Pinterest or even most blogs.  It’s all for show.  The rooms are staged, there is no living in them and there are definitely no kids!  When you want to redo a room or organize a room, just think what will work best for YOUR family?  Can my kids reach the highest shelf?  Is it so themed that they will lose interest in that character/show/movie etc in a few months?

Thanks for visiting my lived in home!


30 Days to Organized- Days 2 AND 3

5 Jan

Thought I had already given up on my 30 days of organization, did ya?  Well I fooled you!  HA!  Actually, my playroom organization took 2 days, partly because the boys were getting into the “toss” and “sell” boxes and digging stuff back out, and partly because it was a big undertaking!  Playrooms are a wonderful thing for a mom . . . the toys get played with in that room more than other room in the house, you don’t have toys that live in your living room 100% of the time, and if the playroom gets messy it’s not as bad as your living room or kitchen, you can just shut the door instead of tripping all over toys in the main living areas.  That being said, playrooms also bare the most clutter, junk and disorganization.  Well, at least mine does anyway!

Step one for me was sorting.  Sorting out broken toys, Happy Meal toys, books we don’t read or have outgrown, coloring books that are all colored up etc.  I had a “toss” box and a “sell box”.  Obviously the toss box was for anything that was not worth keeping or trying to sell.  The sell box was for anything my kids have outgrown or just never played with that was still in nice shape.  I put some of the nicer items on Craigslist, and the ones I didn’t feel like trying to sell-stuffed animals or books- went in yet another a box to be donated.  If they are in nice shape, I’m sure some poor child would appreciate them very much!

So after the purge, this is what my playroom looked like:









Haphazard, toys and games on their shelves but no order, the bookshelf was such a disaster that if someone took a book off they would most likely all fall off on top of the unsuspecting lover of the written word.  A vacuum cleaner, I’m not even sure why that was being stored in there!

So, what did Momma Dummy do?  I labeled, I bagged, boxed and otherwise organized.  All the puzzles came out of their poorly constructed cardboard boxes.  I cut the picture off the box that showed what the puzzle was, glued it to a Ziploc freezer bag and put all the pieces inside.  Then, being a wise a resourceful woman (wink wink) I took a bucket from kitty litter that I had sitting around waiting for a new purpose, put all the bagged puzzles inside and covered the plastic container with paper.  I used my trusty spray adhesive to  affix the paper, labeled the new tote and voila!  Puzzle storage!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf they made these containers in various sizes, I would probably have an entire house full of repurposed kitty litter containers!  I wanted to put the games in one as well, but the game boards didn’t fit, so I just reinforced all the board game boxes instead and put them back on the shelves.

For the cluttered up book shelf, I took all the smaller books that tend to get lost in the shuffle or fall behind the shelf and made book boxes for them.  I used cereal boxes to make book boxes, and after doing so was kicking myself for not having done this YEARS ago!  All you do is cut a right triangle out of the front and back panels, then cover the box in paper.  I made 4 of them and put all of Big A’s chapter and early reader books in the first 2, and then Little C’s Little Golden books and Dr Suess books in the other 2.  The stand up nice on the top shelf, take up the same amount of space as the books did on their own, but not they won’t be falling all over the place.




I will say, one of my big pet peeves is those books that are too large for the bookshelf.  They always end up in a giant pile and then nobody reads them because they can’t see what books they are.  So authors of children’s books, if you are reading this . . .Please make your books smaller so they fit on the shelf!  That is all.  (side note-this is NOT all of the books my kids own.  They also each have a bookshelf in their room FILLED with books.  We love to read in this house!)

For the rest of the toys, Little People, Playmobil people, super heros, action figures, dress up clothes etc a fabric bin was labeled in which each item will now live.  They all have a home labeled with both a word and a little drawing because Little C is only 3 and he cannot read yet.

Little C insisted on posing for this one!  Aww, isn’t he cute folks?





But if you look past the darling little ham standing in front of the cubbies, you can see that I have all the bins labeled-Little People, Playmobil People, Hats-only because the hats don’t fit well into our dress up container and they get crushed- Playmobil parts-like the swords and cannons and whatnot, and then the last bin is labeled “random” because it’s all that stuff that we don’t have enough of to each have their own bin.  Toy phones, Nerf guns, echo microphones, yoyos . . . that little crap kids love and moms hate.


Now you can see the lack of puzzles taking up the entire right side of the built-ins.  Only the wooden puzzles and larger floor puzzles remain on the shelf.  All the games fit nicely onto the lower left shelf, under the large castle and 2 pirate ships.  We have one row of VHS tapes-yes, we own not one, but 3 working VCRs- one row of children’s DVDs, and then larger cars, trucks, and play buildings that don’t fit in the cubbies.  I’d say mission accomplished for days 2 and 3 and a HUGE hooray for a much more manageable playroom!  Yippee!

Let’s Get Organized!

7 May

If you have kids, you have clutter.  Face it, kids bring clutter.  When they are babies, there are the bouncy chairs, the high chairs, the swings, bottles and diapers everywhere.  Then they learn to walk and leave a trail of toys and outgrown clothes in their path.  You have to keep up with the kiddie clutter or it will consume your home!

What do you do?  Buy a ton of fancy organizing systems, put everything in them and only allow the children to look at the toys so they don’t get messed up?  Not possible.  Pay someone boat loads of money to come and organize your home, and then in a few months pay them again because you can’t possibly keep it that way?  Not probable.

No.  You take it slow, room by room and do it in a way that it can be LIVED in.  Nobody wants to live in a museum.  You can’t make your kids use a card catalog to find their toys, or have their friends sign a waiver before they enter stating that they will promise to put ever last lincoln log back where they found it before they leave.

In my house, there are 4 people and one dog.  it’s not neat and tidy all the time.  We work, go to school, have friends over, homework, sports, lives.  BUT I make an effort to keep things orderly.

We live in a split level house, no basement.  Ack!  Love our house, hate the lack of storage.  Each bedroom (3 bedrooms) has a walk in closet.  The boys rooms are small so we keep their dressers in the closet to optimize space in their rooms.

Big A had a bunk bed, but only ever slept on the top bunk, so we took the bottom supports out (REALLY easy) and turned it into a loft!  Makes him have more room for play in his bedroom.  His book shelf and chair are under the loft, and we mounted some stick-on lights underneath so he has reading light.

Little C doesn’t spend much time in his room other than sleeping, so he just has a toy box and a small fabric tote for his bedtime books.  Since we hold on to Big A’s outgrown clothes for Little C, I keep a rubbermaid tote in little C’s closet.  When Big A outgrows something it goes into the tote.  I also have a 2nd tote for Little C’s outgrown clothes, which then get passed down to my nephew.  Anything we want to keep for sentimental purposes goes into the attic to get out of the way.

I rotate their toys with toys as well.  They have too many toys, and I really don’t buy toys anymore.  But Christmas and birthdays overflow our playroom.  So before every birthday or Christmas, we go through the toys, toss broken ones, sell things they’ve outgrown or don’t play with and make room for the new stuff.  For every stuffed animal they purge (which get donated to, as Allen says, “the kids who really need them”, they are paid a quarter.  This helps because they hold on to and collect every little animal they can get their hands on.  I’m pretty sure Allen has at least 10 in his bed right now!  I frequently put all but 2 away, but they find their way over time.

We have loads and loads of Legos, which get played with daily.  We have 2 rubbermaid sets of drawers and the Legos are sorted by color.  That makes finding pieces a lot easier when it comes to building something.

You may recall the built in shelves in the playroom . . . perfect way to store board games and puzzles so that kids can see what they are.  Shelves are great for playrooms.  We even have a cubby system we bought at Target for $40 a few years ago.  The fabric bins that fit in it are usually only $5 and come in every color and pattern imaginable.  My sister actually has an awesome cubby system from floor to ceiling in her playroom!  Swoon!  One really great idea for games and puzzles, since the boxes they come in last about 5 minutes, is to put them in tupperwares with lids.  Cut the names of the game/puzzle and a small picture of it off the box and glue it to the lid.  That way kids can take them out and put them away without the pieces flying all over the place.

Dress up clothes and costumes can end up all over the place as well.  We have a really cute treasure chest fabric tote for our dress up goodies.  But if you have girls, I’m sure you have WAY more dress up stuff than we do!  I have seen these adorable DIY dress up racks and “closets” made from a dowel rod or PVC pipe and 3 sheets of wood.  Even better, mount a mirror on one side and she’s got her own little dressing room!  If you are on Pinterest, search “dress up storage” and any number of awesome DIY projects will be before you very eyes.

One trick I use to help my kids get rid of things they no longer play with . . .Craigslist.  I take a picture of the toy they want to sell, post it for free, and when it sells they get the money.  Last time we did this the kids earned $110 between them!  Then I gave them each $20 to spend.  So we got rid of a load of toys (trash, donate and sold) and then they were each allowed to buy ONE toy.  Get rid of a lot, but only buy one new one.  Otherwise, you are right back where you started!


DIY Built-In Shelving

29 Apr

Last winter Handy Hubby and I spent 8 weeks tearing out a hallway and closet to make a tiny, useless room into a wonderful playroom.  After the room was built the issue was how and where to store all the toys!  I had wanted four shelves bracketed to the wall for all the games and a tv.  After looking at the shelves and the wall mount brackets, we realized the shelving unit was going to cost over $100 . . . and it only cost us $300 to do the whole room . . . including the floor!

We had a really nice oak book shelf in there already, so I came up with the idea to make built-in shelving using the existing oak shelf and the walls.

We bough two long shelves and Handy Hubby cut them in half to make 4 smaller shelves.  He fasted the short shelves to the wall and the existing bookshelf, creating a built-in shelving system for all the toys, games and books!  And it’s incredibly sturdy as it is screwed into the studs in the walls and the oak shelf!  So even if Little C decides to climb the shelves Godzilla style, those shelves aren’t going anywhere!  Total cost: $10 for the 2 long shelves!  That’s pretty good for a built-in system!

Pardon the mess, but we have a lot of toys and I’d much rather they be on those shelves than all over the floor!  (not the 2 storage cubes on the bottom left side of the photo . . . if you missed the post on how to make those, click here