February 1, 2021

Independent Play + Toy Organization

(If you thought this was going to be a how-to on organizing toys, wrong you are. Sorry. I'm asking you about that.)

(Along with that, I'm continually confused by the spacing issues in this post. Sorry.)

Something I am eternally grateful for is that Wells know how to play. He's been doing independent play for maybe 15 months at this point. I noticed that it began when we went to a playgroup and he'd go straight for the toys and just start exploring and examining. Then, we'd go to a friend's house and, he'd bypass the other toddlers and go right for the room with all of the toys and get started. Even at my parents' house, he knows where the box of toys is and it's all I can do to get his shoes off before he runs for it when we walk in the door. 

At home, this is fantastic. He amuses himself most of the day, rarely asking me to play with him or wanting me to get involved (there's even some "go away mommy!" thrown in there). He's extremely independent. He usually just comes to me when he's ready to switch activities or ask for something he doesn't have ready-access to, like kinetic sand. 

I bought Scout a dog bed and Wells decided it was his. 

Currently, we're working on picking up toys before we move onto another activity. 

For what it's worth, he's like this outside too. He'll wander around forever, just looking at things.

Tucking Lambie in for a nap.

My big struggle at the moment is what-do-i-do-with-all-of-these-toys. I have no idea. I'm so tired of picking things up and putting them away. Do I get rid of things? It does hurt a little to pack up toys he's aged out of, but I cannot possibly keep everything when we move again this summer and it seems like we've accumulated an awful lot since we got to Kansas. I let that happen, simply because our house has the space for it. It's not even that I buy it all for him; it's that he has this capacity to play and we have very generous grandparents and a very generous babysitter and they've spoiled him. It does provide the opportunity for me to organize and the chance for me to teach him how to clean up and organize too. 

Along with this, I'm not a mom who likes to play. Yes, we do exist. And yes, I feel continually awful for it. I think it stems from the fact that I, as a kid, played independently because I preferred it. Wells might get that from me.

I came across an IG story by a very popular blogger who said she didn't like to play and that was "okay" and she didn't feel bad about it anymore and part of it is because her third child was an accident and she didn't really want her (I'm barely paraphrasing this, guys) and she felt a lot of guilt over not wanting to be pregnant when so many of her friends were struggling to get pregnant, so she really doesn't like playing with her (all while her child..who was old enough to understand, imo...was listening to her make this IG story). 

I wouldn't put myself into THAT category, at least. 

My big question is: 

How do you organize your toys? 

I finally figured out organizing his books, by the way. Since I didn't want to buy a shelf, I got these wire baskets at Target and they are sturdy and perfect for sitting on the floor, at his level. I like that they are easily accessible and not on a shelf, library-style. I keep a few downstairs as "coffee table books", but all of his other non-holiday books are in his room. Holiday books are packed up with the respective decorations. 


  1. I like the idea of rotating toys. Put some away, get them out later, you know? I think you also have to accept that in this stage there will be toys out sometimes. It’s good to teach cleaning up and it won’t be perfect. Independent play is even more important in this age of constant entertainment.

    1. I totally expect a mess most days :) I always worry that he has "too" much and it's an unnecessary mess.

  2. I was also an independent player, but as an only child I had no choice. It was also my personality. Gracie is the opposite. I am not one who loves to get down and play with kids, so it’s a struggle and I have constant guilt that I don’t play enough with her. ANYWAY. Toy storage sucks. I still don’t know. We have a few IKEA cube shelves—one in the living room and one in the girls’ room. The living room has the puzzles and games and bins for all the wooden blocks/mega blocks/magnatiles. The bedroom has bins doll accessories and stuffed animals and the like. We have tinker toys and Lincoln logs and train tracks in a closet. This is a constant source of frustration with me. We have little to no storage space in our house. If you figure it out, let me know.

  3. I'm a big believer in thank you cards. Personally for me it might be because I don't have kids and my inlaws take advantage of that - which is funny because they are the only ones who never write them ;)

    As for toy organization, my sister buys the drawers for things, especially now that they are into dolls and have the accessories. There is a set for the small stuff, the clothes etc.

  4. That is terrible that the girl you are talking about was saying that in front of her kid! I like to play a little bit, but not near as much as I am asked to. I work full time, I have a house to take care of, dinner to cook, and have zero time to myself. It was easier for me to sit and play with Zoe before the pandemic because I hardly ever saw her since I was at the office all week. Now, she is around 24/7 and I don't feel like playing barbies...you know? I feel awful about it and I try to do other activities with her instead and walk with her outside and stuff. But I totally get that you aren't the mom that loves to play. As for storage. UGHHHH The toys have taken over our house. They are in Zoe's bedroom, playroom and the hearth room off our kitchen. I have some cube shelves that we keep random toys in, and a few baskets for her baby dolls and stuff. I bought a plastic 3-drawer organizer for her barbies, all of that stays in her playroom. In our hearth room we have a huge basket that I keep everything in, and that is all that is allowed to be in that room. Zoe used to be really good about cleaning up after herself, but since last year...it has been a struggle. And she is super sentimental about EVERYTHING and rarely lets me get rid of anything. I have to sneak it when she isn't looking.

    1. So funny: I'm the sentimental one. I can't justify keeping everything though, so I force myself to sort toys.

      It wasn't even some "girl" on IG. It was a BIG name blogger who has a podcast and a book and it was aimed at allowing other moms to have a "safe" space to vent about how much they hate playing with their kids. Gag.
      And it's ironic bc Wells will ASK me to play and then 7 seconds later he'll yell "go away mommy!" or not let me actually touch any toys. LOL

  5. He looks so cozy in the little dog bed-- perfect toddler size! I love the idea of toy rotations, but we don't have enough storage space for it to work well, and the few times I've tried I would put things away and realize there was nothing new to get out. I do switch some things out though-- like one type of blocks and the others are out of sight-- or things with a lot of parts like their play food doesn't stay out all of the time-- just for my own sanity of people tripping and falling on things, lol.


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