How to Win at Organizing LEGOs
Have you ever stepped on a LEGO? If you have, you’ll agree that it’s the most excruciating jolt of pain that you may ever experience. Those little plastic ninjas just seem to sneak up when you least expect them to, for instance after you’re heading to bed and have turned all the lights off in your house. Then, bam — you’re writhing in pain from the sneak attack of an 8 millimeter lime green plastic brick. Perhaps this is just my own private situation, but I doubt I’m alone on this one.
One of the biggest questions I get asked by my friends and clients is, “how do I get control of my kids’ LEGOS?” The struggle is real. I’m there with you. Here’s what I tell them and recommend (and no, it does not involve throwing them in the trash…although some days I teeter on the brink!)
1. Spend some time observing how your child play with LEGOS
Before you spend any time organizing or investing money in the “perfect” storage solution, I recommend that you spend some time watching how they play with their LEGOS. In fact, play alongside your child and ask them questions. How do they sort them? How do they put them back? Are there any pieces they most often use? It’s amazing, because after some time you’ll pick up on patterns.
For instance, my older daughter builds to the kit specs and then breaks it apart a few days later. She does not sort, but just dumps them back into a big bin, and reuses them randomly. On the other hand, my younger daughter scavenges and collects the people figures, accessories and pets. She separates each figurine sorting their hair, clothing and body parts. Yes, this sounds as creepy as it looks, but it keeps her busy for hours. To support her “play” I got her a multi compartment jewelry storage box to separate her figurine parts, accessories, etc. In your child’s case, you may see patterns where they group all of their wheels or car parts together, or their larger size blocks. Once you get a sense of the patterns, you’ll identify categories for which to group and store your LEGOs.
2. Store LEGOs for easy visibility
When storing legos, make them easy for your kids to see and reach. I’ve seen the quintessential giant yellow plastic LEGO brick storage containers at the LEGO store and other retailers, but I highly recommend using simple transparent storage boxes. Simple clear plastic boxes are likely to be more affordable, and more importantly the kids can see from the outside what’s inside. This is especially important if your child is a “sorter”, or if they can’t read just yet. When choosing your transparent bin, opt for one that’s a drawer, as opposed to one with a snap on cover. You could even use a multi-tier or stackable drawer system. The nice thing with modular drawers is that they can be taken out and then slid back in. The reason why I recommend drawers is that kids sometimes have a tough time remembering to put the lids on containers, and thus increasing the likelihood of a “LEGO dump” happening. This is when a box full of LEGOs is flipped. And a LEGO dump is NO FUN to pick up (unless it’s done for the thrilling “LEGO scavenger hunt”).
3. Identify a “building center” and keep all LEGOs there
By having one location where the kids build their LEGO masterpieces, it’s less likely those little plastic ninjas get lost or go rogue…ultimately ending up in the sole of your foot. Obviously, a playroom would be an ideal location, but if you don’t have a playroom or find that there’s an area of your home better suited, then use that space and that space only. Once you have established that space, keep your LEGOs stored in there. Now, for those of you whose kids build at the dining room table, perhaps you don’t want boxes of LEGOs always in the dining room. If this is the case, I’d highly recommend storing LEGOs in a clear modular storage bin that has casters. This way you can wheel your LEGOs in during play, and wheel them out when dinner is served.
4. Make space to display their creations
As much as I am somewhat of a minimalist, I truly value the benefits of LEGOs because they foster logic, problem solving, engineering, confidence and much more. Have you ever witnessed how proud kids are when they finish a LEGO kit or a piece of work? In most cases, they won’t be into LEGOs forever, so why not let them share their work and pride?. You can do this by choosing a space where they can display their work. Ideally, set up some simple shelves which are dedicated to finished LEGO work near their building center. I recently worked with a client to reorganize and style her playroom, and this was something she did for her son who is a LEGO enthusiast. It made me (and of course him) so happy that he could have a space to take pride in his work, and also foster the confidence and creativity for future LEGO masterpieces.
5. Capture their work on camera
If you don’t have the space to store LEGO creations, capture your kids LEGO masterpieces on your camera phone. Print out the photos and keep them in a photo album which your kids can keep for themselves. It’s a great way to remind them of their creations and may even provide inspiration for their next work of art.
Ok, go out into the brave world, and conquer those LEGOs — one brick at a time. Soon you’ll be singing “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME”!