This is Day 228 of the Green in 365 series!
By Hilary Kimes Bernstein of Accidentally Green
I used to think that my husband and I had a lot of belongings. And then we had kids.
Suddenly, the contents of our home multiplied. First it was all of the bulky baby gear – a Pack’n Play, swing, bassinet, and strollers. Once my babies outgrew those things, then toys and books began to fill our house.
Now that our children are reaching school age, their toys are shrinking in size – and they seem to be everywhere. Mentally stimulating toys like wood blocks, puzzles, Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs, and Legos create a lot of clutter when they’re scattered on the floor.
I’ve known that I need to implement handy storage options for corralling my family’s toys – yet I don’t have a lot of money set aside for storage containers. I’ve found that I can make do with items we already have around the house.
Here are 8 ways I’ve organized my family’s toys with repurposed storage options.
As a frugal mom, I haven’t had the heart to buy a bunch of new storage shelves when I have plenty of used shelf options. In my children’s rooms I’ve transformed their old changing tables into toy shelves. (If the toy doesn’t fit on the shelf, then it goes in a storage bin in the basement. I swap toys – what’s in the storage bin for what’s on the shelves – once a month.)
In our playroom I have an antique corner bookcase that holds all of our educational toys. Another antique bookcase holds our books. Just to clarify, these aren’t fancy antiques, but furniture that’s been passed down in my family. They’re old. And they’re worn. But they work wonderfully.
I have a lot of baskets. Some I’ve inherited, some have been given as gifts, and others I’ve bought on my own. I use an awful lot of baskets in my house. In our playroom, I use a big basket to store our puppet collection, and a few small baskets I use on our playroom shelves to hold train tracks, Potato Head pieces, and blocks. And in our garage, I store our balls and sand toys in separate old clothes baskets.
My young daughter loves purses – she likes to carry them around, she loves to collect them, and she loves to keep her tiny toys in them. So I’ve taken advantage of her penchant for purses by keeping different toys in different purses – her tiny frog collection goes in one purse, Squinkies go in another purse, and barrettes go in another purse.
I found some colorful metal lunchboxes on an amazing sale a few years ago – just $2 a piece! — and I stocked up. I also have my metal Strawberry Shortcake and Care Bears lunchboxes from when I was a girl. I keep our markers in one lunchbox, colored pencils in another, stickers in another. Before I stored our art supplies in them, though, they held toys for quite a while.
5. Popcorn tins
I used to be annoyed at how I acquire a lot of big metal popcorn tins – especially at Christmas time. But now I use my collection to store a lot of toys – from Play-Doh to play kitchen food.
6. Plastic zipper bags
Do you know how so many baby clothes, washcloths, and receiving blankets are sold in thick plastic zippered bags? I held on to all of mine and I use them now to store separate Lego kits. Now when my son wants to build a particular kit I just pull out the correct zippered bag and keep the mess to a minimum.
7. Disposable plastic containers
I don’t like to use a lot of plastic in my home. But I also know that some plastic containers can be pretty handy for storage. My husband’s Metamucil comes in fairly large plastic cylinders with a screw top – they’re handy for storing Lego sets or other collections. I’ve let my daughter decorate old plastic baby wipes containers with stickers for her Littlest Pet Shop collection. And while I don’t use plastic food storage containers for storing food, they’re handy for holding small items around the house.
8. Sand buckets
For some reason, loved ones have given my family a lot of sand buckets. We have at least a dozen. But my children don’t play in the sand that much. So while we have a few sand buckets for sand, I’ve set others aside for storage. We keep our sidewalk chalk in one, bubbles and bubble blowers in another, sand shovels in another – and I keep all my clothespins in another sand bucket. The buckets are bright, easy to carry and easy to store.
What containers do you use – and reuse – in your home to store toys?
Hilary Kimes Bernstein is a Christ follower, wife, mama, and writer who blogs about making healthy decisions that honor God and happen to help the environment at Accidentally Green. She’s recently released her first eBook, First Bites: How To Instill Healthy Eating Habits During Your Baby’s First Year.
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