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Pretty Neat Toy Organization

toy storage solution

Our toy storage solution

Organization is a constant challenge in our home. I’ll find something that really works – like the toy storage featured above – and it works for a  while. Then something happens (in this case, Johnny started emptying ALL the bins, “swimming” in them, and walking out of the room), and I have to start over. The toy bins are now stacked between the washer and dryer (where they conveniently fit perfectly), and the kids have to ask for each toy by name. In a few weeks we’ll try moving the bins back into the playroom! I’ve conquered a few organizational challenges (Emma’s room was a recent success), but other areas (most notably the half-wall that divides our kitchen from our living room, serving as a convenient place to put random things) remain a challenge.

And so I was thrilled to receive a review copy of Pretty Neat: The Buttoned-Up Way to Get Organized and Let Go of Perfection. As anyone who knows me in real life will tell you, the Perfection part of that title doesn’t apply to me. At all. I’m very much a pragmatist, and so the first part of the book that focused on letting go wasn’t terribly helpful. If anything, I have trouble letting go TOO much! As I read on, however, I grew to appreciate the diversity of approaches and tips that are offered in the book. All of the suggestions seem realistic, and – because they are so diverse – there should be something there for everyone, from the on-top-of-it-all women to the help-I’m-drowning-in-stuff types. The book includes several tips that definitely work for me, including getting rid of stuff, creating to-do lists, deciding what cleaning priorities matter the most to you, and using Google Calendar to coordinate family activities.



MaryAnne lives is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

20 thoughts on “Pretty Neat Toy Organization”

  1. Love it! Hahahah to him swimming in the stuff. My daughter dumps out everything to make pizza! And I always say “You know it takes a lot longer to clean it up than it does to dump it out.” And she always says “I know! I’ll clean it up.” Famous last words! :)

    1. He was SO happy swimming around in it, too!

      I’m glad he doesn’t do that any more, though :)

  2. Too bad I don’t have a US address! I wish I could have the book! Maybe I could have it sent to someone there. :)

    1) kids’ clothes in our family dressing room, my shelf in the entrance area
    2) Having chosen the largest bedroom for the children in our new home… because it’s “hidden away” in the last corner and I feel so relieved that I can leave the chaos. Tomorroe (Tuesday) is the weekly clean-up day where we all tidy up to some fun, lively music and vacuum, too. Ahem, we have not done it weekly yet, though.:)
    Telling the kids “We’ll drive to your cousins’ if you swiftly…”
    3)The children’s room is exactly one area where I’ve found a way to gladly give up! :) We have a hugs living room and there’s a nice corner that is also visible from the kitchen, so I chose that to be the play corner there, setting up their nice wooden play kitchen; thinking it would be a nice play area and decoration at the same time: Instead, it’s a total chaos and I found myself tidying it up and getting the play kitchen to look the way I wanted it to look :) and when their boy cousin cam over I almost prayed they wouldn’t want to play with the beautifully arranged play kitchen. :) Embarresing, I know.

  3. My tip to getting the kids to help with chores is patience, patience, patience and Lot’s of praise when they do help out. You are right though, it is often more work having them help clean than if I was to do it alone but it’s more rewarding when it’s done and seeing how proud they are of the job they did.

  4. My basement and attic could use some serious organizing. They are the two places that “stuff” goes when I can’t find a good place to put them in the rest of the house. As a result it feels stressful to walk into these areas and the thought of cleaning these places out is a little over whelming.

  5. I don’t think I have a special tip for getting my daughter to help organize…she just knows where her toys go, and she has to put them away herself. I need some tips for helping myself get more organized!

  6. My daughter’s closet is a mess! We moved in January and I just threw everything in there and have never organized it. It drives me crazy, but I keep putting off organizing it.

  7. jeannine: waddlee-ah-chaa

    Oh my gosh, our home is big fat mess right now. We are sleeping in a tiny little bedroom. It is our “master” bedroom. It is also the “library” for the kids books. We probably have 1000 books. And now that the laundry room is being gutted, it also houses an assortment of mops and cleaning supplies. I’m learning how to ignore the mess during this remodel!

  8. jeannine: waddlee-ah-chaa

    As you know we are remodeling our little two bedroom home. We currently don’t fit in our home so basically the entire home qualifies and an organization disaster. When this new master bedroom is finished all of my organization stress will be gone. Ha!!!

  9. My kid’s rooms are a constant challenge! The biggest success I’ve had with the kids helping with chores has been to do a scavenger hunt where the clues are hidden in places that they’ll only find if they actually clean the area!

  10. 3) I gave up on my basement long ago. No one goes in there unless I allow them so it has gone to hades. And I just don’t have tie to worry about it right now!

  11. 2) I set a timer for 10 minutes, give each kid a bag and have them go into a specific room and remove everything that does not belong and then put it in it’s place

  12. My hardest place to keep organized is the eat-in part of my kitchen. We don’t eat in there, instead I have a craft cabinet full of art stuff for the kids, their THREE play kitchens and a table to craft on. I try to organize it, but they keep messing it up!

  13. I have a half wall too, it is always piled with “stuff” but I think the worst would be my island in the kitchen, actually any horizontal surface, they are all bad.

  14. 1. kitchen counter, living room coffee table, and my craft supplies
    2. chores preceed a prefered outing.
    3. gave up on the teenager girl’s room. We junk it all twice per year and ground her a lot. I’m not cleaning a 14 year old’s room on a weekly basis. That is crazy.

  15. We live in an apartment, so having a safe outdoors place to play was very hard for Heather to have, so my husband and I went out and bought 4 Yoga Mats and 2 packages of the Golds Gym Floor and my husband cut it and fit it to the specifications of the outside balcony. Well in time all of her outside toys were coming inside, including the balls from her ball pit…so we started putting everything she brought inside in a laundry basket in the living room and when she would and still does go to bed we sneak everything back out side through a side window out onto the patio. It is a team effort by both my husband and I. Lol but it is super funny :)

  16. My oldest is 20 months old, so she is still in the stage of wanting to help mommy with everything. She has a play vacuum, a play broom and dustpan etc and will work right a long side me with whatever chore we are doing. She loves the feather duster….but we always try to make a game no matter how silly it is of whatever cleaning project we are doing. It has worked fairly well so far, I know when she is older I will play the ( pick up 0 game with her that I watched growing up on the Big Comfy Couch :) That always ALWAYS worked :)

  17. The area of my home that is in need of the most help, I would have to say is the bathrooms. There is absolutely no rhyme or rhythm to the order of the bathrooms, especially the girls bathroom. Full of toys, their stuff and my stuff. It is absolutely chaotic.

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