Before we even moved into this house, I was determined to have a designated playroom for the kids. I cannot stand toys having a permanent home out in our living space so while we were in Korea they were all crammed into Owen’s tiny room, stuffed into baskets and shoved in the closet.
Long story short, we ended up renting this house sight unseen while I was on a layover in Japan with the kids and Alex was in Alaska. It was about to get rented by a group of young pilots and we’d already had our hearts pretty well set on it considering the other options we’d found in our budget. We agreed this was going to be our next home and bit the bullet then and there. When we moved to New Mexico and did our first walk through, I quickly realized that the room I intended to be the playroom based on the photos I’d seen of the house was not going to work. Alex wasn’t too keen on Owen and Della sharing a room so I went back to the drawing board and decided to make their bedrooms also be their playrooms. It was important to me (and really just me, no one else cared) that Owen have a big boy room. With all the moving and transition he’s been through in his short little life (and it’s not really going to slow down anytime soon), I feel that he deserves a unique space that is just for him.
When our household goods arrived and I unpacked the boxes labeled “boy’s room” I simply couldn’t believe how many toys we had. Where on earth had they been during the two years in Korea?! There were so many toys that had never been played with because they were buried in that cramped apartment.
The very first thing I did was declutter and do a massive toy purge. This was not only a priority for the kids’ toys but for our entire house with this move. It’s something I feel like I’m constantly playing catch-up on, but I was about two years behind on it. With this assignment, I’m determined to stay ahead of the game. I’m an organized freak of nature and I knew I needed to tame the clutter before their birthdays and the holidays when we’d be bombarded with shiny new toys. Let me make one thing clear: I’m not ungrateful. Our families are so generous, particularly during this time of year. With their birthdays and the holidays back-to-back, we tend to get an overwhelming inflow of new toys. We are so lucky to have so many people love us and want to give gifts to the kiddos. But we have to be able to move about freely in our house without tip-toeing through a minefield of toys so frequent toy purges are just a necessary evil. That’s not too much to ask, right? Plus, I do think there is such a thing as too many toys, it can be overwhelming and overstimulating for the kids.
Here’s how I purged and decluttered the toys:
- I put all the toys in the middle of the room – I know, it’s scary but just do it…
- Owen and I sorted toys into piles: donate, sell, and throw away and we got those toys out of the house (or at least out of sight) right away
- I put the remaining toys back in the middle of the room again
- I categorized the remaining toys by grouping like items together
- games and puzzles
- arts & crafts, coloring books, etc.
- small cars and trucks
- sensory/Montessori toys
- …you get the idea
- I reviewed the sorted toys and determined what kind of storage I’d need for these toys
We went through EVERY SINGLE TOY.
Owen totally got on board with the idea of giving the toys to kids who are less fortunate and no tears were shed because I didn’t force him to part with anything he absolutely loved. Guys, I’m not a mean mom. I will admit I may or may not have gotten rid of a toy or two that drove me absolutely batty. I don’t feel bad about it – and no mom ever should – we need our sanity. I can also assure you that they would never notice any toy that may have gone mysteriously missing. When I was done it was like I could breathe again. It felt SO good. We are now streamlined down to the toys the kids love and play with regularly.
We chose to get him a full sized bed so it could also work as a guest room if we had company so that took up a hearty chunk of the room. I made use of vertical space as best as I could, this is a great technique for toy storage especially if you plan to store seasonal books, toys or keep heirlooms out of reach from little ones. We have super high ceilings and I knew I could make more square footage for toys and books by using this space. I found the best solution for this was a cube shelving unit which I got at Target (we anchored it to the wall). Amazon also sells the IKEA version. I put his dresser in the walk-in closet along with the rest of his clothes and shoes. There was still plenty of storage space for puzzles, keepsake items, awkward sized toys and his big trucks – it’s a great closet and I’m not sure we could have successfully made this playroom/bedroom mash-up work without it. I put the toys and books he uses every day easily accessible in his room.
He has a lot of little toys: small cars and trucks, animals, duplos, an airport set, dress up clothes, and so on…so for a “catch-all” solution I went with these storage bins that fit perfectly in the cubes.
He also has a lot of books and spends HOURS of his day reading so I made sure to create a comfy cozy reading corner.
By using the vertical space so efficiently, it left plenty of floor space for a playmat to drive his cars and trucks around on, which is very important to him. We used to have a carpet play rug for him but things would snag or catch on it and it got so dirty after a while. I had to do some searching to find something that would be practical, yet fun and functional. When I found the Camp Castle play mats, I knew right away Owen needed one – we gave it to him for his birthday and he was on cloud nine. You guys know me, I love supporting a small shop and this couple nailed it.
It is probably the number one most played with item in his room. I absolutely love the mat (the drawings designed by hand and are so cute!) and they are super durable for wild and crazy toddlers. They’re made of thick floor vinyl (non-toxic and PVC free) and are super easy to clean with a damp cloth. Plus, the surface is smooth for fun and easy truck driving! They come in several sizes but we opted for “the biggie” since we had a large enough space for it.
In addition to his cars and trucks, Owen loves his trains. We had his tracks set up in the living room and were constantly tripping over them so Santa solved the problem for us by giving Owen a train table for Christmas. It comes with bins underneath to store extra pieces so it’s a real winner. The kids really like it and I love that it requires little to no picking up after they’re done playing with it.
Of course, the catch-22 is that I’ll have to do this all over again when move in a few years but by then he’ll be older and his interests will have changed anyway. And that’s also the nature of the beast that is military life. I’ll admit that I actually love that aspect of our lifestyle. But now that’s I’ve established a declutter and purge routine, it’s easy to do and I am finding it easy to stay on top of things. I’ve already done a post-birthday and Christmas purge. His toys are organized and accessible. His room is functional and a fun space that reflect his personality and his interests and I love that it’s full of so much small shop love! We spend a lot of time in this room as a family and I just love how it all came together. For those interested, I’ll put links at the bottom of the post. Message me below if you have any questions!
These are my favorite items in his room. The map is of where Owen was born and also includes the village we lived in. The two bears on the bookshelf were handmade for him by one of our sweet German neighbors. This special space makes me so nostalgic for those days!
Cube shelf / Storage bins / Pig riding toy / Personalized wooden truck toy / Wooden camera toy / Up Up and Away banner / Fire station / Keypad storage hanger / Reading chair / Metal truck shelf / Playmat / Train table / Curtains / Large storage bin / Map / Trace & erase chalkboards / Name letters / Nightstand / Dog lamp / Bedframe / Mattress / Sheets / Quilt / Pillow shams / Monogram pillow cover / Stuffed dog / Sleeper Hero / wall color “Ellie Gray” by Sherwin Williams / F-16 canvas no longer available but here is something similar