The first thing I did was sit down with paper and pencil and think of general toy categories. The two main categories were "inside toys" and "outside toys". I have not yet dealt with the latter. I started downstairs.
As for inside toys, I made some easy decisions for storage on a few things:
1. Balls -- kitchen cabinet. Balls of all shapes and sizes, and frisbees (I know, I know--outside toys, but they're not right now)
2. Food/Play Kitchen Items -- kitchen toy drawer (we don't have a play kitchen, but we play like we do)
3. Books -- bookshelf, top shelf
4. Stuffed Animals -- bookshelf, bottom shelf, blue basket
5. Blocks -- bookshelf, bottom shelf, recycled animal cracker container (jumbo) from Sam's Club
That was the easy/obvious part. So, I went through and put the aforementioned toys in the aforementioned locations. Most of them were already there, but perhaps had too many or had foreign toys that needed to be cleaned out. I created a bag of stuffed animals to donate, and put all the baby toys in a bag labeled as such. Everything else got sorted into general categories. When I was done I had these categories left over:
- Miscellaneous medium-sized stuff -- stacking rocker, jack-in-the box, popper, V-tech laptop, LeapFrog drum, Animal sounds toy, chatter telephone, princess piano, Super Grover play set, dancing duck (don't ask), another block set, froggy castanets, rain stick of sorts
- Kids' meal plastic toys
- Dress up stuff
- Baby dolls and accessories
The kids' meal toys got thrown away, except Strawberry Shortcake, because Elsie saw that pile and exclaimed, "My girl!" and pardoned her girl until a later date. Everything else went upstairs.
Upstairs was also a wreck. In addition to the previous categories, I was also dealing with:
- Bath toys that were no longer in the bathtub
- Miscellaneous large toys -- music table, 2 baby strollers, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse couch, pink U-chair, play vacuum cleaner, Sit-N-Spin
- Random toys that don't fit any category, the most prominent being these foam pieces that my sister brought. They would go on one of those piece-together foam play mats, but they are the edge pieces, not the square centers. Elsie LOVES these. She has quite the imagination, so sometimes they are a castle, sometimes a bathtub for her baby, sometime a chair, a boat--you get the idea. Also in this category are the kazoo and the hand-clapper toy.
- Small plastic animals/animal finger puppets
Anyway, one I had everything sorted, I decided they needed a home instead of one big toy hamper, which turned into two, which became the floor in the hallway, bathroom, all bedrooms. When Jill moved in, I put together a Closet-Maid Cubeical from Target. I had the fabric drawers, but I couldn't find them; thankfully, I came across those drawers recently. The original intent for the organizer was for toys, but it was used for something else for a while, and then it was covered with baby clothes. Only now can it fulfill its purpose.
The miscellaneous medium-sized items stayed on the middle shelf of the downstairs bookshelf, and the large miscellaneous items are in the spare room, near the Cubeical. All other categories got a shelf or a drawer in this glorious organizer. Except bath toys. Those are in a mesh hanger that I got at the dollar store and they are hanging in the shower.
I think the relief here is that every toy has a play where it belongs, not just a place where we shoved it to get it off of the floor. Like items are grouped together. I do not feel like my house is overrun with toys.
Yes, we'll have to do this again and again, purging as we go as the children grow. But for now, it FEELS GRRRRRREAT!
Can I get an "Amen!"?