How to Combat Toy Clutter and Reclaim Your Living Room -

The new year brings so many things with it: new opportunities, new experiences, and, most obviously, new toys cluttering up your living room.

The holiday season often leaves us with a toy overload, doesn’t it?

The presents are met with shrieks of joy on Christmas morning, but now it’s all puzzle pieces kicked under the sofa and a Lego minefield between you and your nightly Netflix binge.

It’s that age-old dilemma: How can I keep my living room from being overrun by toy clutter… without kicking out the kids?

The living room might be one of the hardest rooms to get a handle on because it has to pull double-duty. It needs to be a welcoming space for your little one to read, play, and learn during the day and it needs to be a restful space for you to retreat in the evenings after the bedtime battle.

Banning toys entirely seems unrealistic, but you’d like your living room to look slightly more Better Homes and Gardens and less like a Toys R Us Catalog.

Well, rest assured, mama. You’re in the right place.

We’re going to tackle the toy clutter together by reducing the overall number of toys occupying space in your living room, increasing storage, and creating better systems to keep the toys in line.

So suit up (it’s okay if that just means yoga pants and a t-shirt), and let’s reclaim your living room.

Before we actually get started though, let’s take a moment and be grateful that this is even a #firstworldproblem for us. We feel overwhelmed because we have too much stuff, while there are so many less fortunate people in the world. There are toys on our floors because we have little ones who play with them. They toy basket is overflowing because there are so many people in our lives who care about our children. We are so fortunate! Let’s tackle this problem with gratitude in our hearts.

Combat Living Room Toy Clutter
Step #1: Identify the Enemy

The first step to combating toy clutter is to identify the actual problem.

Sure, “my living room has been hit by a toy grenade” is the most obvious problem, but let’s figure out the root cause. Is it not enough toy storage? Not the right kind of storage? Or just plain too many toys?

To figure it out, you need to really study your space.

Start by clearing out all the toys from the living room, so you can get a clear picture of what you’re working with.

Next, take a step back and ask yourself some questions about the room.

I’ve included some suggestions to get you started, and be sure to take notes as you brainstorm!

  • What areas of the room contain the most clutter?
  • What areas of the room are the hardest to keep picked up?
  • With which aspect of your living room are you most dissatisfied?
  • What do you currently use for storage? Are you satisfied with that storage?
  • Are there other areas you could use for storage? (Maybe clearing off a shelf of the bookcase to stack puzzles?)
  • What specific toys (or types of toys) are most often left out?
  • Are there toys that can be kept in other areas of the house? (Your child’s bedroom? The basement?)
  • Are you willing to rearrange furniture for a more functional layout?
  • Are you willing to add/replace pieces to make it more functional? (TV stand for cabinet with more storage, bookshelf for cube storage, coffee table for storage ottoman, etc.)

It’s okay to take your time on this step. I know you long for the days where toy clutter has no hold on your life, and that starts here!

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Combat Living Room Toy Clutter
Step #2: Downsize

The next step, and perhaps the most important, is to declare battle against the overflowing toy baskets.

This is a great opportunity to sort through and downsize your living room toy collection. Living room storage is prime real estate, so make sure that everything you store there is pulling its weight!

If she’s old enough, recruit your child to help you make five piles (old diaper boxes work great for this!) as you sort.

  • Donate/sell: When you come across items that are still in good condition but are no longer played with in your home, think about selling them at a garage sale or online marketplace or donating them to charity.
  • Toss: I understand sentimentality, but toys that are broken and unsalvageable are only adding to your clutter.
  • Store and Rotate: If your toy collection is getting out of control but you don’t want to get rid of any of them, consider rotating your toys. Pack up a box and store it away with plans to rotate them in (and other toys out) in a few months.
  • Relocate:Can you store some toys in a basement or a kid’s bedroom? Or maybe keep a basket in the kitchen for your little one to play with while you prep dinner?
  • Living Room: You should be left with the best of the best, and those can go back into the living room–but not until Tip #4!

The main idea here is that it’s easier to store a smaller amount of toys, so really pare down your collection.

Combat Living Room Toy Clutter
Step #3: Camouflage Toy Storage Areas

Keep toys off the floor and out of sight by intentionally choosing pieces that blend in with your living room decor.

The key to keeping your toy storage from overpowering your living room is to choose pieces that don’t look like toy storage. This can come in the form of hidden storage in living room furniture such as a bookcase or TV stand or by adding storage baskets that are easy on the eyes.

How to Combat Toy Clutter and Reclaim Your Living Room -

  1. A TV stand with drawers offers hidden storage in a piece that doesn’t look out of place.
  2. A storage ottoman keeps toys hidden but still easily accessible, and its soft corners are more baby-friendly than a traditional coffee table.
  3. This hardworking circular play table offers lots of toy storage and can double as a coffee table.
  4. Keep puzzles and board games tucked away in this bookcase with storage on the bottom.
  5. Using a tufted storage bench to corral stuffed toys adds extra seating, too.
  6. Put a rope basket to an unoccupied corner to add texture and toy storage to your room.
  7. A shallow basket can be hidden underneath the couch for added storage without adding furniture to a small room.

Like I said before, you can’t ban toys entirely. There will be toys in your living room. But you can soften that blow with storage pieces that are easy on the eyes.

Combat Living Room Toy Clutter
Step #4: A Home (Base) for Everything

We’ve all heard it: “A place for everything and everything in its place.”

Making sure that each toy has a designated place where it should be put away helps to streamline the toy cleanup. It makes it easier for your child to help clean up his toys, and it saves you the extra effort of trying to find a place it fits.

It also makes it easier for your child to find a particular toy during the day, which means he’s less likely to dump out all the baskets looking for it. (Note: I only said less likely.)

So as you begin putting the sorted toys back into the living room, take your time to find a logical place for each toy. An easy way to do this is to group categories of toys–all the cars in one basket, stuffed animals in another, puzzles in the bookcase, etc.

Knowing that all the toys can be put away in the living room will make it easier to take that extra five minutes at the end of the day to put away all those rogue Shopkins before you collapse onto the couch.

Combat Living Room Toy Clutter
Step #5: Don’t Let Your Guard Down

You can purge, rearrange, and organize until you’re blue in the face, but we all know that your living room will look like a bomb went off within 15 minutes of your little one waking up tomorrow.

So you won’t be able to truly declare victory over the toy clutter unless you set up routines to stay on top of it and then rally your troops to help you!

Consider making toy clean-up a part of your daily routine. Spend 15 minutes tidying up the living room twice a day–before lunch and then again before bedtime.

Show your child how you’ve arranged the living room and where each toy should be put away. You’ll probably have to remind her for the first few days, but she’ll get the hang of it soon!

For other suggestions on helpful ways your kids (2-6) can be more helpful around the house, request a free copy of our Chore List Printable!

Claim Your Freedom
From Toy Tyranny

You’ve finally done it. *enthusiastic applause*

You’ve created a multi-functional playroom-by-day, refuge-by-night living room.

Sometimes it can feel like our entire homes (and lives) have been taken over by our children. It’s tempting to want to stake our claim on the living room and declare it a toy-free territory.

But we know, of course, that would last a few hours at best!

The ideal solution is to strike a compromise and allow the living room to be a welcoming place for the wholefamily.

With a few strategic storage pieces and some clever toy shuffling, you’ve done just that.

So take a load off on your toy-free sofa, put your feet up on that hardworking storage ottoman, and celebrate your toy clutter victory!

You’ve earned this moment. Relish it!

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How to Combat Toy Clutter and Reclaim Your Living Room -

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Kim is an American expat living in the Cayman Islands with her husband of six years and their two rambunctious little boys. She spends her days chasing her children around the park with sunscreen and avoiding the mound of laundry that needs to be folded (at least it’s clean!). Click here to learn more about Kim.