Embrace the mess.

One of the questions I get most often is how we handle kids toys everywhere & where we store things. Let me preface this by saying I am a pretty messy mom. If you saw my closet vs. Brandon’s closet, my side of the sink vs. his, or the inside of my van vs. his truck, you would never know we were even the same species. Opposites attract, right? 😉 But at the end of the day, we want to teach our kids how to take care of their things while still having fun, and of course we do appreciate the house looking like a home instead of a toy store.

So I am sharing five ways that we keep the toy clutter under control & keep a (semi) organized home with toddlers running around.

1. Get rid of toys often, or at least put them on rotation. I am not even sure how we accumulate so many things in the first place, kids meal toys, things the kids bring home from grandmas, and a birthday or holiday every other minute that lands them with a new doll and puzzle, toys get out out of control fast. We make routine trips to goodwill to get rid of things, once a month at least, with clothes we don’t wear or the girls have outgrown, toys they don’t play with or other things around the house taking up space.  It’s hard with three kids of different ages developmentally, while we want to hold on to baby toys, the reality is Claire never touches them and really only wants what the big girls have (or a snack) so we try to be realistic about it. The other thing we do is keep rubbermaids on hand to rotate toys, things like their magna doodles, puzzles or noisy alphabetical alligators on a pull string (what even is this toy and it’s purpose?) will go in a tub, and every few weeks, we will switch it for other things. It makes their toys new again & leaves less to pick up daily.

2. Baskets are the answer to pretty much everything when it comes to toy storage for us. A couple baskets in the play room, in each of the girls rooms & in our upstairs media room keep all of the toys under control. It is super easy to just throw everything in baskets if we have guests coming over and you hardly even notice the toys. It takes no more than ten minutes to throw things in baskets. I prefer baskets from Target, Home Goods, etc. that fit with our home decor rather than kids toy baskets or boxes, an easy way to keep things looking tidy!

3. Make use of non-traditional toy storage. We park the girls baby doll strollers in our shoe closet, keep all of their crayons & art supplies in drawers, and keep puzzles in the bottom drawers of our night stands. Finding an actual place for things is half the battle. PS. Play kitchens are a dream because they hide so many toys!

4. Make it a routine for kids to pick up toys. I’ll be honest, this is hard, sometimes it is way easier just to leave them rather than deal with the whining and crying about picking up. But after just a few nights of doing it routinely before their wind-down-before-bed movie, they usually do it without being asked. We usually tell them we are going to play a song and we have to hurry to pick up all the toys before it’s over, and our goal is at least for them to get all of their toys out of the other rooms and put in the playroom, even if they don’t put everything where it actually goes.

5. Embrace the mess. Something we have to remind ourselves of often is that one day, we will miss this mess. We will miss finding goldfish in the couch cushions, stepping on doll house furniture and legos, and seeing little crumples of paper with your kids names scribbled on them in every room of the house. I don’t mind a basket full of doll clothes sitting next to my bed & I love a good pile of kids books on the coffee table. If you stop seeing it as a mess, it will no longer feel like one.

I hope this is helpful, and if you have any tips & tricks to share, we would love to hear them! Happy weekend, friends! XO



  • Reply
    January 28, 2017 at 3:22 am

    Hi, where did you get both of your rugs? Love them!

    • Reply
      February 2, 2017 at 9:38 am

      Yes, love the rug in front of the play kitchen! Where did you get that?

  • Reply
    Brooke Perigo
    January 28, 2017 at 3:51 am

    Thank you for sharing this! With 2 little ones in the house, I struggle with this as well. Baskets have been a good solution for us. I also like the idea of rotating the toys. I hope you and your family enjoy your weekend!

  • Reply
    January 28, 2017 at 4:04 am

    Some good reminders and encouraging words for those of us who feel like the “mess” will never end. Thanks, Jessica!!

  • Reply
    January 28, 2017 at 4:12 am

    Rotating toys is honestly a life saver. It makes the ‘new’ toys exciting, and keeps the clutter down. Most days I am up to my eyeballs in trains and legos, but for me it really helps just having a designated ‘space’ too! Most days, the play room is in absolute shambles, but if I can at least get my living room put together (out of sight, out of mind!) It really makes me sleep so much better at night! That and I don’t break my toes on legos when I sneak out of bed for a midnight snack 😉

  • Reply
    January 28, 2017 at 4:23 am

    So many great ideas, I love using non traditional spaces to store toys! That last sentiment is what makes me love your blog so much.

  • Reply
    Sarah Vieira
    January 28, 2017 at 4:32 am

    I love this Jessica! I love baskets, they are great pieces and so versatile. Looks pretty and does a great job at keeping things organized. We have baskets all around, keeps things tidy and this mama sane haha.

  • Reply
    Sarah Vieira
    January 28, 2017 at 4:36 am

    I love this Jessica! I love baskets, they are great pieces and so versatile. Looks pretty and does a great job at keeping things organized. We have baskets all around, keeps things tidy and this mama sane haha.

  • Reply
    January 28, 2017 at 5:05 am

    I am beyond grateful for the last picture you show with all the toys. I know Instagram shows the best side of everything and I post the best, too…because I want to remember the best 🙂 but I thought all your toys and clothes and house matched. And while I still adore your selection of clothes and toys and house decor it is nice to see a Minnie Mouse and Ariel and the target dollar section light up magic wand (we may have those, too…holla!) thrown in there, too!

  • Reply
    Kitty Spano
    January 28, 2017 at 5:31 am

    We live in a condo so we don’t have a playroom, but her room is quite big with two huge closets leading to her bathroom. One of her closets was converted to a toy closet with shelving for storage. Her play kitchen is below the shelves and I’ve used ikea containers to store all the little figurines, legos, playdoh, etc. each box is labeled with chalk board label stickers so it’s cohesive. All of her plush toys are in these nice BIG baskets I got from Home Goods and I have medium sized ones in the same pattern to store her Little People and its vehicles on the bottom shelf of her book case. Our tip is she’s not allowed to take out another toy until she’s cleaned up the last activity. She can’t reach to grab the next toy since it’s up on shelves above her kitchen so there really is no choice BUT to clean it up or we won’t bring down the next bin.

  • Reply
    Nitsa Jensen
    January 28, 2017 at 6:24 am

    This post is awesome! I’m frequently looking around our house thinking, “I’m never going to catch up on cleaning!”. Thanks for sharing your helpful tips! XO

  • Reply
    Amy Lynott
    January 28, 2017 at 7:26 am

    I loved reading this as I prepare for the birth of my first baby this Spring. A good friend of mine told me to take a
    walk around our house before leaving for the hospital and remember what it looked like because it will never look the same again!

  • Reply
    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    January 28, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    I love how this post applies for tips on cleaning up in general! How come your messy rooms still look prettier than my tidy one? Haha!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Reply
    January 28, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    where did you get the white and gold kitchen?

  • Reply
    Holly Hopkins
    January 28, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    I bought a large weaved basket from chapters/indigo on sale last year seriously best decision ever!!! We also rotate toys and I was very picky and careful while Christmas shopping. Legos are not allowed out of my daughters room. We put a coffee table in her room where she can leave her legos set up & play with them. I no longer step on them and they are away from my 15mos old. My kids have to clean up their messes before lunch & supper.

  • Reply
    January 28, 2017 at 8:54 pm

    Where did you get those kitchen accessories and groceries? They are absolutely adorable!!!

    • Reply
      January 31, 2017 at 3:11 am

      Yes! I second this question!

    • Reply
      January 31, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      They are from Land of Nod. She shared them in her christmas gift idea post.

  • Reply
    Brittany Malone
    January 29, 2017 at 4:39 am

    Can you please share where you got those baskets in the first photo? I especially love the round one!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Live Half Full
    January 29, 2017 at 10:52 am

    I like the idea of playing a song! My son is 1 and I have him “help” me put away his toys before dinner. He does a good job!

  • Reply
    Lily & Mama
    January 29, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Oh I really liked your idea about putting on a song to motivate them to clean up their toys! I’ll be trying that one out for my little ones this week. It is so easy to just avoid the whining and do it myself but I have to remind myself that it’s totally not my job to clean up their toys and they need to learn how to do it, or else I’m going to go insane and everything’s going to end up at Goodwill!


  • Reply
    January 29, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    We do 1 to 4 of these but I do struggle with number 5! All the toys go away where they belong at bedtime but over time I think non-toy mess seems to gather more. Also, the lego figure under the t.v. unit I keep noticing in the evening, once I’m comfy on the couch, is getting annoying!

  • Reply
    January 30, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    Love your blog, always so cute and inspiring!!


  • Reply
    January 31, 2017 at 1:52 am

    I am definitely reading this post to my husband because I LOVE the rotating toys idea! We use baskets too that match our decor/house for toys too, because like you mentioned it works great, is quick cleanup… and in my opinion is like camouflage because sometimes you can’t tell what’s in the basket unless you are standing directly above it.

  • Reply
    January 31, 2017 at 4:07 am

    My sweet Beckam will make THE biggest mess and when prompted to clean up, he will reply “Well mom (he’s 3), if i do that, then I won’t have any energy to play with something else..” After laughing on the inside, I say “Well, Beckam…if I clean it up, it’s going to go to the storage room and you won’t be able to play with these toys right here for a long time.” He just stares at me and says, “Go ahead. Pick them up.” LOL! Didn’t go the way I intended, however, I had to follow-through. It’s sort of a win-win because less toys to pick up and now (I’ve only done this 2 times) when I prompt him to clean up and he tries to argue, I just say, “Well, If I have to pick them up…” then he usually starts to clean.
    Oh and we use lots and lots of baskets, too. haha!

  • Reply
    Shadia Brown
    January 31, 2017 at 11:23 pm

    Yes to everything! We tell Elliot that we will throw his toys away if they don’t go in the basket asap or by the time we come back in the room. He has started doing it on how own though so repetition does work! 🙂

  • Reply
    February 1, 2017 at 11:57 pm

    We try to rotate toys every few weeks and I find myself weeding out the toys I hate when they’re not in rotation haha. With my son’s birthday being so close to Christmas, I feel like we get overloaded with a ton of new toys at once. So I’m trying to donate as much as I can before the birthday toys start piling in!

  • Reply
    February 4, 2017 at 10:27 am

    I so agree on what is the purpose of the alphabetic piano alligator on a pull string?? I never understood the purpose of it either!

  • Reply
    career guidance
    February 7, 2017 at 10:20 pm

    I wanted to thank you for this good read!! I definitely loved every little bit of it. I’ve got you book-marked to look at new things you post…

  • Reply
    Gabrielle Calvillo
    February 11, 2017 at 3:01 am

    Great post! I have two little girls myself (three and two months) and I can easily get frustrated with the messes. I always try to remember that these moments are fleeting!

  • Reply
    liz h
    February 28, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Did you spray paint the fixtures on the play kitchen? If so, what paint did you use, and was it easy to do? Thank you!

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