Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Toddler Boy's Room Organized - without spending anything!

One of my goals when we moved was to get our son's toys out of the living room and into his room - and organize them! The overflowing toy box wasn't working for me. His old room was tiny. We could fit a bed and a dresser in there, but not much else - not comfortably anyways. It was a perfect nursery, but when Steven got older there wasn't much space for all the stuff he was accumulating.

He's always liked organizing and having everything in its place (he throws a fit if I put a toy where it doesn't normally go) but we didn't have enough places. He got one of those bucket organizers as a gift, but since it was never really organized (just toys thrown in random buckets) he preferred to throw the toys on the floor and play with the buckets... though that in itself was great imaginative play - they were trains, cars, shoes, hats, towers...

His new room is about twice the size, so moving his toys into there was no problem, but it still needed to be organized.

Unfortunately, I didn't think to take "before" pictures. Spending the morning organizing wasn't really the original plan, it was still on the "to do" list. Then Steven picked up his "Bebe" (one of my old dolls) and insisted she was hungry. Then we discovered that all the play food was at the bottom of the overflowing toy box... and then there were toys everywhere. Luckily I already had a plan in my head, it just wasn't implemented yet.

I would have loved for his room to look like one of the gorgeous ones I've seen on Pinterest (which I am thoroughly addicted to)... but we have absolutely no money to put towards furniture. I was even entertaining the idea of building it ourselves at one point, we definitely have the skills to do so, but we can't afford the materials.

So we worked with what we already had, which was my old bedroom set. It came with three dressers - a tall one, one with a hutch and one with a mirror. We've been using the tall one in his room since he was little. My husband and I are both tall, so we would have had to bend over a normal changing table, but this dresser was the perfect height. We added the one with the hutch so we had a place to put his books and now we're using the drawers for toys.

I let Steven decide where all his toys were going to go - sometimes making suggestions when I knew that something wasn't going to fit where he wanted to put it. Then we drew pictures of what we put in each drawer or bin. The pictures got taped to the drawers and the inside of the bins (they get covered, but you can tell what goes there by what's already there)... and that big old toy box that prompted this whole thing got filled with stuffed animals. The stuffies were on one of those corner nets in his old room and were just piled in a corner here.

Of course, not everyone is going to have a dresser lying around to use - but the point is to use what you have on hand. An old book case, cardboard boxes (can be painted or covered in fabric), milk crates... if you don't have anything in storage and can spare a bit of cash, check out garage sales and thrift stores. It's amazing what you can get for under $20 (or even $5), and often all it needs to look brand new is a bit of sanding and a coat of paint.

So there's my little boy's room for $0. Obviously the labels could have been prettied up a bit, and I'm sure those dressers could use some new varnish, and I still haven't gotten around to asking our new landlord if we can do something about the chipped paint on the walls... but the point was to make it clean and practical, and I think we accomplished that. There are still a few things I want to do. I'm going to hang my old animal alphabet poster on the wall and make some bags out of old tank tops to hang on the wall for more storage. I think I'm also going to hang that stuffed animal net up again and use it for his blankets... but the hard part is done!

Update: so far this system is working perfectly. Steven knows where all the toys go, he takes out what he wants and he helps put it all away before nap or bed time. When he's overwhelmed by the mess (like when he has friends over and they dump all the drawers, all the bins and every book they can reach onto the floor), he doesn't want to help until I give him a specific task like picking up all the blocks. Then I end up doing most of the cleaning, but at least he's still helping.

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