Organizing Thursday: Deluxe Puzzle Storage Rack

This is one of those things that I didn’t know existed until I saw it at a friend’s house. My kids have never been too into puzzles, but if yours are, you know how it can be a pain in the butt to store them. This looks like a great solution if the collapsing pile of puzzles in the corner isn’t your speed. It holds 12 small and large puzzles and is available at Amazon (with Prime), where it has a ton of good reviews. (No puzzles included.) Melissa & Doug Deluxe Puzzle Storage Rack

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Organizing Thursday: Stackable Bins

If you have a tiny bathroom like we do and your kids have to have every bath toy in existence, you may want to try these organizing bins. I bought three of these for our bathroom and stacked them — it’s a good way to keep things visible for the kids so that they don’t forget about their various toys. I like that the profile is slim enough that they can fit between the toilet and the tub (although I wish I had drilled holes in the bottom so that they drained better, maybe putting a tray underneath them on the floor). They’re very useful elsewhere in the house, as well. If you frequent the dollar store, I’m sure you could find something like this there, but if you’re like me and tend to buy everything on Amazon, try these very useful little stackers. They’re well-reviewed and they’re $13.99 (Prime eligible). JapanBargain Stackable Bin

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Organizing Thursday: Book Rack Storage Bookshelf

elegant organizing bookshelf for kidsWe have this $29 bookshelf in the “primary colors” version, and honestly I’d have pulled the trigger a lot quicker on it if I’d seen this more elegant espresso/white version. The books-forward bookcase is great for toddlers and littles who aren’t speaking well yet but who can point at the book they want when they see the cover; we also find it useful for series like Golden Books where there is nothing written on the spine of the book or the “I Can Read” type books that are so thin everyone’s squinting at the book anyway. (Honestly we also use the bookshelf to store a random keyboard that gets trampled on elsewhere.) The “shelves” are made of cloth so it’s very light weight — we go crazy anchoring furniture and I’ve never been very concerned about this one. The bookshelf is $29, available in five color combos. (The matching “affordable” toy storage organizer, $59, also comes in the espresso/white version — again we have it in primary colors, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it because both boys tend to take everything out of every bin and dump/throw it in a huge mess and then walk away until someone (Mommy) sorts it and then they repeat the process, hence our recent switch to toy bins that click/lock shut. Perhaps if your kids are less obsessed with chaos than mine it’s a good purchase…) Pictured: Tot Tutors Kids Book Rack Storage Bookshelf

Psst: to those commenters wondering about how you fit an entire kids’ library on these — you don’t. At least I don’t. We have most of the books in our old Expedit (5×5) for the kids but they’re overflowing there too — I just use these little shelves for “display” (as in look, Mom got you new books from the library, don’t they look fun!) or to keep the “most-loved books of the moment” out and reachable. I try to rotate books but… yeah.

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Organizing Thursday: Play Mat and Toy Storage Bag

If you have a little kid who likes Legos or any other toy that has a zillion little pieces that get all over the floor, you might like this bag. We got a bag like this in an attempt to corral the Legos because you can just pick it up and take it away. (It does work as intended, although I haven’t entirely succeeded in getting my 5-year-old to use it.) We bought two of these at Amazon and one of them shipped from China and took four weeks to get here (and they wouldn’t respond when we tried to cancel), so if you need it sooner than four weeks, make sure that you pay attention when you’re at the checkout screen. AVAWO Play Mat and Toy Storage Bag

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Happy Tuesday: How to Store Toys in an Expedit/Kallax Shelving Unit

OK, this is a totally random recommendation today, but I’m honestly so excited, after years of pondering this issue, that I have to share. I have finally figured out a good way to store toys in our IKEA Expedit shelves. Years ago when I was in a studio I bought two 5×5 Expedit shelves, and they’ve held up through multiple moves. I could never quite figure out how to store toys in them, though — the shelves are too deep to put little toys in (they get lost) and not wide enough for big toys like Tonka trucks. I’ve tried to store toys on the shelves in clear plastic shoeboxes, but those were a poor use of space.

We finally placed a massive order at Walmart for locking storage bins (our littlest one enjoys grabbing any toy he can find and throwing/hiding them anywhere he can get to, so our previous open toy storage situation was NOT working) and OH MA GAH some of the bins fit the Expedit perfectly. IKEA still makes the shelves but has renamed them (with some modifications) the Kallax series — I will note that if you have the space, a tall tower like this one (1×4) is excellent turned on its side as a toy bench for toddlers. Anyway: the two sizes of bins that fit the best are the 15.5-qt. latching boxes (sold in sets of 4 for $17.88, pictured above with the blue latches) — you can stack two in an Expedit shelf — and these bigger 24-qt. latching boxes (buy one for $6.47, or 4 for $22 pictured above with the green latches). You can fit at least one clear shoebox inside the 15.5-qt. boxes and 2 or 3 in the 24-qt. boxes for further organization/subdivision of blocks or whatever.

(Why yes, I do go insane with my label maker, thank you for noticing.)