I love organizing things. Some would say I'm a little obsessed. Back in my teaching days my sick drawer was organized by color...and socks were folded. Before you roll your eyes, just think about all those times you were running late and digging through your drawers looking for a pair of black socks and then you ended up wearing navy. Imagine pulling out a drawer filled with perfectly organized socks; where navy and black were on opposite ends to avoid confusion. Still rolling your eyes? Yeah you probably are and that's okay.
Having kids has brought challenges into my weird world of organization. At first it was okay because baby toys and gear is big and takes up half your house so you really don't have to do much other than avoid tripping over it and clean slobbers off it (ironically I just cleaned slobbers off my leg after typing the world 'slobbers').
Then the toys get smaller. And gather in large quantities. And heaven forbid all those small pieces get mixed together; how could anybody play with mixed up toys?!
My kids have way too many toys, I admit it. But they honestly play with everything. My daughter is 5 and is at the age where toys get small and come with even smaller pieces, and my son is 2 and likes to see how many pieces he can fit in his mouth before he gets caught.
So here's some of my organizing strategies:
1. Plastic containers with lids. I use Sterlite brand that I purchase from Family Dollar.
2. Canvas style storage bins.
3. Pretty, but durable, baskets.
I use the plastic containers with lids for all of Morgan's small collections: Polly Pocket, Barbie shoes, Lalaloopsy minis, Disney Magic Clip dolls, Disney Palace Pets, and so forth. They are mostly stacked up in her room in random places and aren't adding anything pretty to the decor but it's better than tiny pieces all over the floor (have you ever stepped on a Barbie shoe?!) and better than throwing it all mixed together in whatever container.
I also have larger plastic storage bins that fit under her bed that contain American Girl accessories, Barbies, and Barbie accessories.
Canvas style storage bins can be used for larger toys collections: My Little Pony, medical kits, dress up items (crowns, purses, wigs).
Shelves placed inside closets are great for more storage bins, boxes with puzzles, containers with collections that aren't used often (like the nature collection my mom insists my kids have...dead animals mostly).
Crayons, markers, glue sticks, scissors, and all other art supplies are always on the table ready for my daughter to use and safe away from the toddler hands of my son.
And since most of my son's toys are still bigger, I use storage baskets all over the place to throw his stuff in while he's not playing with it.
And yes, my kids actually play with this stuff pretty much on a daily basis. And I am usually sorting and cleaning several times a day. I do make them help me as much as they can but I noticed if I am constantly on my daughter about cleaning up her toys, she just won't play with them to avoid having to clean them up later. She plays so creatively with all of her collections, I don't want her to avoid playing out of fear of having to cleanup. After all, they are only little for a short while. Someday I will miss all these little messes.