Last week I shared some spaces in our home that are full of my things. Surfaces styled and beautiful to me. I, however, happen to live in a home with three small children. We LIVE in our home. Like hardcore live. I’m a stay-at-home mom to three beautiful children and they are home with me all day. Well minus Quinn’s three hours away four days a week.
My kids love to play together, they love to play by me and they love to play where the action is. This is all great, except their rooms are upstairs! This means that storing toys upstairs doesn’t work, because it all just gets dragged down here anyways. Don’t get me wrong, they still have toys in their room too. If you can’t beat them, join them. Right?
So I have tried really hard to create a home that works for them and me. A home that makes them feel welcomed and creative and independent. There are many days in the winter (this is Wisconsin folks) that we do not even leave the house. That means that I spend a lot of time here too. I would go plain crazy if I felt like I lived in a daycare center. Sometimes it feels that way, but I like to end my night on the couch with a glass of wine and Amazon Prime as much as any mom and I would prefer to feel like a grown-up when that time comes.
While this is a system that we use and works for us, it doesn’t equate to perfect. There are times where the mess piles up and the disaster is out of control.
A lot of the toys that we choose to store in our main living space are the toys that work best for everyone and get a ton of use. I think if I dumped all the toys that we store in our living area in the middle of the living room, most people would be shocked. Part of me wants to simplify, but part of me doesn’t know how. Three kids at three different ages and stages plus boys and girls. It is in the living room, because they love it and use it–so try as I may, I just cannot seem to pare down.
There are a few key places we store toys- Living room bookshelf, 2 ottomans in the living room, dining room console, TV credenza and front hall closet.
First of all, I don’t take myself or my home that seriously–so yes, there is a child’s old school desk where an end table should be. Since the desk is slightly slanted, it doesn’t make for the greatest of end tables, but Eleanor sure loves sitting in it. This bookshelf is in the living room and the top is for me. I style it for me.
The bottom is for them.
Now my kids aren’t readers and it bugs me to no end when they pull out every bin half way and just leave it hanging there, because it wasn’t what they were looking for. Funny how I can let so much go, but this makes me crazy. Hence the labels with the pictures. Find out more about those here.
We have a bin for cars. Eleanor really loves the cars too and the kids will race and crash them in the dining room.
One that I call “gadgets”. The kids know that is where they can find old cell phones, calculators, binoculars, cameras, and other electronic things.
There is a bin of baby toys and it gets dumped daily. If I set it on the living room floor, Hudson has a blast emptying it.
There is a bin for balls. I try to make sure they are all soft and relatively safe for indoor use.
An action figure bin. I have a 5-year-old-boy, need I say more?
I call this one “role playing” It has THREE doctor kids and a grocery store cash register. Cashier or doctor, you choose. The doctor kits are Elmo, which is one of Hudson’s favorite things to play with, your classic doctor kit and then Doc McStuffins Doctor kit.
We also have two ottomans in our living room. The ottomans are on each side of the console, under the window (I totally owe you guys an updated home tour).
One ottoman holds a ton of Melissa & Doug play food items along with dishes and other play food.
The other ottoman holds three bins and a truck. One bin holds all of the play animals, the other the architecture blocks and the third are Eleanor toys.
Centered between those ottomans and windows is a console. The top of the console is pretty stuff for me and the bottom holds two giant baskets for kid stuff.
Building toys includes Lincoln Logs, and a toy “work bench” and other tools.
The musical toys are pretty obvious.
That shovel is, in fact, in the right bin. Eleanor has proclaimed it a bass from the day she got it. It has actually never functioned in a shovel capacity…ever.
Next to the TV credenza are two baskets for the family favorites– Duplos and blocks.
The credenza actually stores kid stuff too! The center baskets hold DVD’s. Learn more about these Pottery Inspired baskets. The drawers on the right hold workout DVD’s and then all the Wii/gaming stuff.
The drawers on the left are as follows: top- workbooks and flashcards, middle-coloring books and crayons, bottom- paper pads and more coloring books.
In the front hall closet I have four bins of kiddo stuff, along with board game storage.
Top left: watercolors, markers, and pencils. Bottom left: more artsy crafty–glue, pipe cleaners, finger paints, etc. Top right: marker boards and learning pads. Bottom Right: Play Doh. You can learn more about the front hall closet storage here.
Lastly, is the dining room console. It also has two giant Target baskets for toy storage.
The top of that dining room console is always changing. I usually have it coordinating with a holiday. Right now, that is Valentine’s Day.
The left drawer of the console holds Quinn and Eleanor’s LeapPad Ultra’s and the charger. The drawer on the right holds a set of Melissa & Doug spelling puzzles and Melissa & Doug beads and string.
Like I said, it is a lot of stuff. The kids play down here with these things 99% of the time. I know a lot of people might opt not to have any toys in their living space, but with young children who like to be by the gang–this works for us. I hope it gives you some ideas to create a space you love. Explore more organization posts in the in the organization project gallery.
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