Organizing Play Bins

My fabulous friend Amie has two kids and runs an organizing and Feng Shui consulting business. A few years back, she came over and helped me organize my cluttered home office and swept my basement floor for me. Not many friends would put their life in danger to go into my basement.

Because of her organization skills, I’ve asked her to write up a monthly article for The Shopping Mom to help all us busy moms stay on top of the clutter. She loves to weave in fun stories into her tips, one reason that makes her so sparkly and fun.

This month, Amie is giving tips on organizing toys using bins. Enjoy!

Organizing Play Bins – by Amie

So, I was sitting there enjoying my cake at a 5 year olds birthday party, when all chaos broke loose. Here is a recap of what went down: a small pink flying object (later identified as Barbie shoe) flipped off the play table just as Pepper the family dog was perusing the floor for crumbs. Just then, my friend, the party hostess, dropped her ice cream scooper from across the room and performed a move similar to a slide into home base in the last inning of a World Series game.  My eyes widened and I set down my plate in case I had to perform any resuscitation.

Claire stretched out on the floor, started prying open Pepper’s jowls. “Claire!” I whispered loudly. “You are the party hostess for sam hill sakes, get up!” Just then a dented pink flat piece of plastic flew out of Pepper’s mouth and landed on the carpet. She leaned back on her elbows and said, “I’m too late.

As it turned out my friend had not lost her marbles, she was just fed up with all of the games and toys that end up with missing pieces. Pacing around the kitchen she pointed out, “What princess walks around in only one shoe?”  Well, actually, I was wondering silently if Cinderella counted.  I kept that to myself as I tried to calm down Claire, “Here is the thing. I said. “You do the best you can, you create organizing systems for these toy doomahiggies and let your kids do their thing. Sometimes, however, like today fate just takes over” She took a sip of her margarita and confessed, “I guess I freaked out more because it had only been 10 minutes since Lola had gotten the Barbie shoes and just like that a shoe was already ruined.” I looked at her skeptically, “Those microscopic things, I think they were doomed from the start”

Here is the skinny, besides the fact that I am pretty sure toy manufactures and the woman’s pain medication people are in cahoots to raise sales, you can reduce stress by creating successful play spaces.

Here are some tips:

  1. Create a designated place for toys: find a bookshelf that will support bins or containers. Locate the shelf on the bottom of your child’s closet or in a playroom.
  2. Find creative organizing solutions: here are some that work well, wooden bins, painted buckets, small zippered bedding holders from Bed Bath & Beyond, shoe boxes, 1 gallon milk jug with a hole cut in the top (leave the handle in tack for carrying purposes), decorated cardboard boxes, plastic pretzel holders from Costco, etc.
  3. Sort all like items together
  4. Involve your children in making labels:  for small children you can print out pictures on the internet (for example, trucks or cars) and your child can color the picture in and you can tape it to the organizing container you are using. As they grow, school age children can start to write the words and decorate the labels themselves. Teens might want to use a labeler or get savvy on the internet creating cool fonts for labels.
  5. Use a cleanup song (on the internet, “clean up, clean up, now it’s time to clean up . . .) to get your kids to learn to put toys back where they go. If not you will be doing it every night and will be mumbling to yourself as you do it! Trust me!

Visit Amie’s website,, and sign up for her monthly e-newsletter organization tips.

About The Shopping Mom


  1. Wonderful post and now I can show hubby I am not crazy when I say keep boxes and jugs as they work well for the childrens toys.. I am so happy I found your blog and I look forward to following you and I also look forward to checking out the other blog as well as I need all types of help as I also have a little one and no we do not have doll shoes we have legos trains and cars which is worse I think.