Organizing too many toys

A quick video of Andy’s room. Before and After photos of our organizing session in La Canada-Flintridge.
2 organizers. 3 hours. 1 happy mom and 1 happy kid!

Music by Ingrid Michaelson “The Way I Am”


Keep it at kid level when organizing for children

Get Organized Already just organized another child’s room in Altadena. So much color! I love it.

This little guy is 4. So, he was away at pre-school while Mom, my rock star assistant Michelle, and I worked a little organizing magic in there.

Important to this story are Mom’s goals for the room shown b4 over there –>

•organize the closet with storage solutions
•improve the flow of the furniture

Also of note, they have a den with lots of kid stuff in it. They were amenable to moving things from one area to the other if needed.

She definitely wanted something different for the books because they were hard to remove from the wicker shelves in the b4 picture above to the left.

So, we pulled in a black storage piece from the den (which was a little too crowded anyway) and set that up for book storage in the same corner. Everything is at 4-year-old level.

The closet was so spacious and underutilized! To remedy that I brought in hanging sweater bags, the only extra cost for this project, at a mere $30 for both.

And look at the storage space we gained for his clothes–again at his level.
(Higher compartments are filled w out-of-season things for rotation later.)

A big lover of stuffed animals, now when he opens the left side of the closet he find a toy store’s equivalent of fluffy animal love!

We also put all linens for this room in the closet, labelled of course.

The dresser in the Murphy bed nook was broken. Bye bye!

The toys are organized and stored in there now (Ikea storage you probably recognize) and there is room there by the lamp for a glider, or a desk, or table as he grows to need it.

This was really fun! No big price tag, but lots of WOW factor for Junior.

Why won’t my kids pick up their toys?

First probable reason is that we have been picking up the toys for them for their whole life. So why should they start now?

Second probable reason is that we don’t pick up our stuff ourselves. We don’t really care, deep-down, that there are toys everywhere because it is easier to just leave the mess than to nag about the mess.

Either way, we need to talk. And I don’t have a magic, easy answer for you, dude.

There are 15 parenting books on my bookshelf, over there, right now!, that will tell you how important follow-through is and how healthy boundaries make healthy children.

The same principles apply to being organized: Set a good example and be consistent. Once you are in charge of little people, this becomes doubly important. And I know it isn’t easy, people. Having children is freakin’ hard.  That’s right! I said FREAKIN’!

Once they get in the habit of putting things away it’s like washing their hands. Sometimes you will have to send them back in to do it. But, a lot of the time they will do it on their own. Help them develop the habit.

For more ideas and specific details see this older post on organizing for kids.

Organizing a kid’s room in Eagle Rock: rock on!

Check out this new video from Get Organized Already working in 90041 – Eagle Rock.

51/2 year-old Toby was so excited after his room re-do he started labeling the bins himself the next day!

Your child’s room probably has too many toys in it. Thin them out and get organized already.

You can do it! Because if you step on one. more. lego–you may lose your mind.


Professional Organizing Services for Eagle Rock and NELA


Thank you, Alli, at Your Little Movie for editing and directing this video.

Shop Locally for Christmas: Grow Kid Grow in Silverlake

If you still have kids on your list to shop for and you live in east LA or near about, please check out Grow Kid Grow on Sunset near Fountain. It’s a re-sale boutique for kids’ clothes and shoes and costumes and accessories. They have some new toys and some new designer clothes as well.

I went in with a list for my little nephews and niece. I walked out of there with about 7 books, 3 cute clothing items for each of them, and a song in my heart for UNDER $50. Are you kidding? I spend $50 on each of them usually! This is my new favorite store in Los Angeles.

Kids’ stuff is so temporary and I hate shopping at Target (as you may know, ahem) because the shoes fall apart and every other kid at school has on the same thing. But, I knew I couldn’t afford to go to a boutique for all 5 kids. At Grow Kid Grow you’ll find designer stuff that is out of my price range normally. It’s packed to the gills in there with something for every kid under 10 on your list.

The shop is owned by local parents, too. I just can’t say enough good things. Go now!

Grow Kid Grow

4310 W. Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90029


MON-SAT 10am-6pm  |  SUN 11am-5pm

Book shelf organizing


Tonight I went through the living room bookshelves with my kids to determine which books we could pass down to their little cousins.
I was surprised by some of their decisions both ways–keep and give away.
It wasn’t important to me to give any away. So I thought I’d let them have complete authority.  (They are 6.5 & 7.5 years old.) My son, who is more likely to keep things, was excited to give the good books to his cousins he loves.  My daughter is ever practical but had a few strong sentimental attachments.
I’m glad I got their input in any case.  Plus, its a good idea to start learning a routine for letting things go at this age.
The pile on the floor are books for the cousins. And now the shelves can breathe easy–half-full of chapter books for my growing readers.

Organizing kids’ spaces: Toy clutter is making me mental!

Organizing an area that is used by children brings up many issues about parenting and flexibility.  There is a lot to say.  For this post, I’m going to stick to talking about organizing the room to implement a system that encourages your kids to succeed at keeping their room organized so they can find what they want to play with.   I’ll try to steer clear of much parenting advice since, unless you know my perfect children, you have no reason to take parenting advice from a stranger.

It’s hard to organize things for others.   This is so obvious to professionals that I normally wouldn’t even mention it.  But, I’ve been coming across more and more people who are banging their heads against a wall trying to do the impossible: implement an organized system for someone else.  Usually that someone else is in their own family which makes the wall even more painful to the head being banged.

Children are no exception to this rule.  Just because the kid popped out of your body doesn’t mean they can maintain an organizing system of your design.  They probably wouldn’t want to if even if they could!

So, let’s talk kids and short attention spans and reckless disregard for how much those toys cost in the first place!

When organizing a room for small children (under 10) you want to keep it as simple as possible unless the child in question shows some organizing prowess already.  And if they do, believe me, you will know.  (You should have heard the stories coming out of the NAPO-LA (pro-organizers) meeting in response to “When did you know you had the organizing gift?”)  If you have an organized child on your hands, you should stop reading this right now and go read a post on what to do with all of your free time.

If you are still reading, your little angel isn’t as organized as you would like them to be.  Here are some ideas about organizing a space for those children:


Any kid older than two is capable of picking up their toys.  All of them.   If there are too many toys for them to pick up, then there are probably too many toys period!  You can thin them out (especially the ones with tiny pieces) and do a rotation, or just give away to your church nursery or a local charity.  Or, if they are made in China, please just THROW THEM AWAY.   I don’t throw much away so that is saying something.  Also, if you find broken toys THROW THEM AWAY.

Unless your child is old enough to truly understand charity, I do not recommend involving them in every thinning out process.  When you start taking 3 garbage bags to Goodwill, then you are going to need to explain your actions a little bit.  But, a few broken toys and some they haven’t seen in two years from the bottom of the drawer are not going to be noticed.  Every kid is different and sometimes a 5 year-old can get behind the idea of giving old toys to others.  But, the greater probability is that they are going to get re-attached to everything they see.  So, do it when they are at school or outside.  Another tip from my own mother–do it after a birthday or holiday because then they are so into their new stuff they won’t be upset about losing the old stuff.


Use bins and boxes that do not have lids. The younger the child, the fewer the categories should be. You can have Candyland still in its box.   You can have a bin for Duplos, or the container. But, don’t worry about color coding the doll clothes or keeping the two tea sets separate or anything crazy. Your goal is for lil’ Shnuckums to clean up his own stuff.  Set them up to succeed by making it easy.Have a big dress-up chest instead of compartments for hats and another for outfits for example.

I like these, widely available storage units for kids.

It’s a good idea to label the containers age-appropriately with a photo, simple words or—for extra-bonus-parent-points—label them in 2 languages!!!!   Ooooo!  Labels aren’t necessary for everyday use, but when you have a play-date and the other parents want their little sluggers to “help her clean up her toys”, you are going to be sending me a thank you note.   Also good for when you have a babysitter.


Make time in the day for straightening up.  Again, don’t beat yourself up for imperfection.  You can leave some toys out through dinner if you forgot to have Jr. pick them up first.  But, right after dinner it’s time to do some clean-up.  Make clearing the space as important as taking a bath or eating.   And always congratulate them for making their room so user-friendly.  Don’t set a precedent of giving treats for cleaning up.  It can be a chore for which they get a sticker on their chart, fine.  But, the real rewards are that they know where their toys are for next time and they have space in their room for bigger playing.  I know this is pretty optimistic and I’m not going to be mad if you give them some candy.  In fact, I have been known to reward with ice cream any of our children who can fill up the laundry basket with donate-able goods from their room.  (They are over 5.)  Still, your goal is to make tidying up part of the daily routine, not a big deal that warrants a cookie.

In conclusion,

  • thin out the toys/art supplies constantly
  • make the system easy (even if it ain’t pretty)
  • set aside enough time at least once (maybe twice) every day to do a quick clean up
  • always say something positive about their genuine effort: thank you, point out how great it looks, how there is room to play for next time, or how they are being responsible for their things.