February 18

The Best Way to Keep Your House Organized with a Toddler

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We moved to our Big Tiny House about a month after our now 5 month old second baby girl was born. In our old, very big (3000+ square feet), two-story house, we were met with some challenges when our toddler started becoming mobile and more interactive with toys, books, and stuffed animals. Not to mention all the regular books that were at her level in the living room.

Since we had already decided we would be moving soon, we didn’t put much thought or effort into reorganizing our old house. But after experiencing her “pulling everything off the bookshelf” behavior on a daily basis, we knew we would have to rethink the living room organization in our new house.

Similar to my issues with getting control of all the baby girl clothes, I really struggled with the abundance of baby stuff Claire had access to when we first moved in. We knew the bottom two bookshelves in the living room would need to be dedicated to baby/toddler stuff. This was our opportunity to get re-organized and baby-friendly.

The Playroom Decision

organizing_toddler_toys

We managed to pull off a major downsize to a home just under 1700 square feet. We absolutely LOVE our new, smaller home. We decided to have the girls room together. This decision was partly born out of our shared interest in tiny house living and simplifying, and partly based on the positive feedback we have received from other parents on sibling room sharing.

Having them share a room instantly answers the question of where does all their stuff go. The decision to not have a playroom was a no-brainer for us. Their room is their playroom. I know a lot of people have a separate playroom but we just didn’t see the need for it for our lifestyle. Their room is a normal sized bedroom, but when I walk in there it feels so big to me and is a more than adequate play area.

Organizing the Bedroom Toys

organizing_toddler_toys

After watching a few YouTube videos on Montessori playrooms, I learned to rotate out what they have access to. Having a just a few books, toys, and stuffed animals out at a time is something I can get on board with. Plus, I believe it’s better for them to have less stuff available because it helps them focus more.

My original idea was to use the lower three shelves in a cabinet in their room for toys, stuffed animals. and books. I decided on four of each: four toys, four stuffed animals, and four books arranged by type on each of the three shelves. And then I keep a few stuffed animals in the crib and Pack n’ Play for them to play with. The rest of the “stuff” is stored on high shelves in the closet, to be rotated into the lower shelves periodically.

Organizing the Living Room Toys

Organizing_Toddler_Toys

One of my favorite things about our new house is that their bedroom is directly off the living room. Our toddler, Claire, loves taking things from her room and bringing them out to the living room. She’s out there all the time with us, so it makes sense to have a place to put away all the stuff she has strewn about the house when she goes to naptime or bedtime.

After observing this behavior of bringing out everything from her room for a little while, I came up with 4 categories of stuff for the 4 lower bins in our living room bookshelf:

  • stuffed animals
  • toys
  • books
  • baby blankets, pillow, and Ergobaby

Just like their bedroom, I decided to keep out four of each in the stuffed animals, toys, and books categories. At first I questioned whether I was being too minimalist by not letting her play with more stuff at one time. Then I realized that a total of 24 things to play with between her room and the living room was already more than enough. And more than enough things for me to have to pickup!

Our Living Room Is the Playroom

It turns out that Claire just wants to have all her stuff in the living room all the time! When I put things on the shelves in her room, she generally takes them all down and brings them out to the living room. So now I have let go of trying to organize stuff on the lower shelves in her room, and just focus on putting things away in the four bookshelf bins in the living room.

My four categories are basically out the window all the time. Because no one else knows the system I have in my mind. Haha! And I doubt there’s a labeling system for the cloth-lined bins in the living room that she wouldn’t destroy, other than embroidery! But it still helps me to know that there’s a possible method to the madness, and that when I want to sort through the stuff and categorize it into bins, I can. I don’t take the time for that 99% of the time, but it’s nice to know I have the option.

It takes about 5 minutes to put our living room back together from disaster zone to everything in its place. That’s what I was going for! When Claire goes down for naptime or bedtime, one of us usually throws everything that is strewn about the living room into her bins (categories thrown to the wind) to get the place looking organized again.

Just like the girls’ clothes organization, I learned to be ok with things not being as perfectly organized as I would like. I also learned that controlling and limiting what she has access to is the key to keeping things organized and being able to put the house back together during the peace of naptime and bedtime.

If you have little kids, do you use a separate playroom?

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  1. Your organization looks great! My one year old is currently in the pull-everything-off of everywhere stage, too. The more I can put it hidden, the more I keep my sanity, haha.

    1. Yes! When I realized I didn’t have to give her access to every single thing we have ever been given for her at all times, that really made it so much easier to keep the house from total disaster status 😉

  2. I love all your tips. We are moving in 3 weeks. We are currently in a 3400 sq ft house and downsizing to a 2600 sq ft house. This was perfect for me to read.

  3. Yes, we also love the Montessori way! Our kids are in a Montessori day care and we love it! Also, your diaper cabinet gave me major heart eyes. I love organization!

  4. This is super helpful! I love the idea of rotating toys–the kids don’t get bored and less clean-up for us mamas!

  5. I will be showing this to my fiance! He has severe OCD and is always looking for new ways to keep things organized. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I love this! So helpful. My son just turned 2 and i didnt see the need for a seperate playroom either because all his toys are in the living room of a small house! And once hes done he cleans them all up into the grack pack and play that is in the corner of the room. Works perfectly for us!

  7. Such good ideas! I my twin boys are starting to get into anything and everything!?

  8. Such good ideas…you certainly have the knack for keeping things organized. Rub off on me, ok? 🙂

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