Kids have a lot of toys to play with outside. Some of them, such as those meant to be ridden, are rather large, even those meant for very young children. They can present quite a storage problem when they need to be put away for the winter.
As if your garage isn’t already littered with stacks of miscellaneous stuff, seasonal toys can easily leave you puzzled as to where to put them. If they just get stuffed into corners or into whatever space they can be fit, smaller things will be lost, things will get cracked or broken, and there will be a lot of rummaging in the spring when the kids want to play outside. So how do you store toys in the winter to eliminate the problems?
Some ways to store kids’ toys is to build custom racks, large strong plastic containers or even buckets, and the use of wall hooks can be very handy for storing riding toys.
How Do You Store Toys in a Garage?
Storage Racks – One great way is to build your own storage rack. This isn’t just a solution for the winter but solves a lot of problems all year round to store outdoor toys. It also keeps the toys from being stepped on or accidentally run over by your car. It’s a great way to keep smaller toys sorted by use, such as keeping all the sporting equipment or sandbox toys grouped together.
Your kids won’t have to spend a lot of time looking for their only baseball or that special Hot Wheels car they wanted to show their friends. They also won’t come to you whining that they can’t find something. A smaller plastic toy won’t be broken by a heavy object being plopped on top of it.
A custom storage rack easily be built with some 2 x 4s and wider boards for shelving. Building it yourself means that you aren’t stuck with the sizes of racks or shelving on the market. You can size up your needs and build the kind of storage space you actually need for the items with space to accommodate the larger toys.
For instance, you can build wider shelves that most racks on the market provide, giving you room to store the larger plastic toys as well as bins for the smaller things. Small toys and supplies such as sidewalk chalk can be grouped into different size bins and boxes. Labels will make anything easier to find. Leaving a sizeable space underneath the bottom shelf will enable riding toys to just be rolled in, making a sort of parking lot for them.
Devoting a storage rack just for toys and children’s items serves more than one purpose. Besides the obvious benefit of the organization, it makes things easier to find for both you and the children. It also teaches the kids the value of organization and why you always tell them to put their things away when they are done with them. Once they see that this method makes it easier for them to find what they want and helps keep their toys from being broken, they’ll see the reasons for putting toys away. They also won’t have any excuse not to do so. If you have a deck that’s low to the ground check out my article Under Deck Storage Ideas for Low Decks for more storage ideas.
Plastic Containers – Large, sturdy, plastic buckets can be hung from a pegboard or the wall itself to group and hold various smaller toys. Smaller balls can go in one, while beach toys and the like go in another.
A pegboard is also a great place to hang baseball gloves, helmets, and spare bicycle chains and parts. Another kind of rack can be built for sporting equipment with a section to hold the various balls and another section to hold long items such as bats and rackets. Helmets and gloves can have their own section or be hung on hooks attached to the rack.
Wall Hooks – Bicycles themselves can be hung on the wall on hooks. They can be hung on hooks against the wall. Loosen the nuts on the handlebar connection, then turn the handlebar so it faces lengthwise, and you won’t have a problem hanging it on the wall. If you have several bikes, you might save wall space by investing in hangars that allow you to store bikes vertically standing out from the wall, with their tires resting on the wall as if they were traveling upwards.
Can You Leave Little Tikes Toys Outside?
They can be left outside if your winter temperature doesn’t go below freezing. Extreme cold can damage the plastic. The temperature causes the plastic to become more brittle, leading to a possibility of cracking or other damage. It’s much better to store these toys in a protected area such as a shed, basement or garage if they can’t be stored in the house.
Where Can I Store My Kids’ Electric Car?
Any riding toy that runs on power needs to be stored in a safe place during the winter where it will be protected from the weather and the worst of freezing temperatures. Storing it in the house or basement is best, but the garage or shed are also possible choices if the house is definitely out.
If storing it in the shed or garage, keeping the battery in the house is a good idea. Even if you store the toy outside under something like a roof overhang to keep the rain and snow off, the moisture in the air can definitely cause havoc on the electrical parts.
Can You Leave Ride-on Toys Outside?
If you’re lucky enough to have scored a ride-on car made of metal, you certainly want to take good care of it, as these are usually more expensive than cars made of plastic. However, like anything metal, it is subject to rust if left out in the rain or the damp atmosphere that usually accompanies winter weather. No matter how the toy is painted, there are parts that can rust. Any scratches or gouges in the paint make a prime place for rust to start. Keep these in your shed or garage.
Plastic toys have their own vulnerabilities. Plastics tend to become harder and brittle when subject to freezing temperatures. This can cause cracking and breakage when your child attempts to ride it next spring. Storing these in the house or basement is optimal, but if this is not possible, they should be at least kept in a sheltered place such as a garage or shed.
How Do You Store Power Wheels in the Winter?
Power Wheels toys run on battery power much like any other motorized children’s toy, and need to be stored in a basement, shed or garage. Since they run on a battery, the battery can become damaged by getting wet, either with rain or snow. The other electrical components, such as connectors, can rust.
While at times a Power Wheels toy gets wet from a rain shower and can still run once the battery dries out, you’re really taking a chance leaving them outside in the winter and it will catch up eventually. Even if it’s stored in a shed or garage, it’s a good idea to take out the battery and keep it in the house during the winter.
How Do I Keep My Outdoor Toys from Fading?
Plastic toys tend to fade in the hot sun or when exposed to any sun over a period of time. Not only that, but the plastic can become brittle when exposed to hot sun just as it can with freezing. It’s just the nature of plastic. To prevent this from happening, the toys should be stored in a garage, carport or shed when not in use.
Some parents whose children have quite a few plastic outdoor toys have come up with some quite creative but simple ideas to store outdoor toys. For instance, a simple enclosure can be made with some sturdy PVC pipe and joints to form a rectangular frame.
Make sure it will be deep enough to fully cover the toys you have. The frame should be secured to the ground with stakes and cables or heavy wire. You can install a top from materials such as plastic corrugated roofing. A plywood top will make it a sort of table to hold storage containers for smaller items.
Drop cloths can be installed on the front and sides to protect the toys from the sun from all angles. Hanging the cloths from the pipe frame with shower curtain hooks will make it easy to open the toy garage for easy access.
If you have cold winters, these toys should be stored elsewhere during the winter, but this “garage” will keep the toys protected during useful months. It will also help remind the kids to put the toys away when they are done with them, keeping them from being underfoot.
Where Do You Store Summer Toys?
Summer toys such as pool toys tend to take up a lot of room. They can make a large contribution to the clutter in your garage. One way to keep them out of the way is to use the garage or shed attic as storage space for the lighter-weight toys.
You might not want to store outdoor toys that are very heavy such as battery-operated cars. They can be even harder to take down than to put them up. Deflating any inflatable pool toys will naturally create more space. It will also keep the toys in good shape, as the plastic and seams will get a rest from the air pressure.
Since the air does tend to slowly leak over time, you usually have to add some air in the spring even if you left them inflated, so it’s not more work to just deflate them before storage. Making use of attic space to store outdoor toys can help a great deal, especially with summer toys that you won’t need to get to more than a couple of times a year.
You can even remove the summer toys in the spring and replace them with winter toys for the summer all in one job. If you don’t have a floor in the attic space, you don’t have to construct a whole floor. Just a few sheets of heavy plywood should suffice and give you a lot of storage room. Just remember to save space for the ladder so you can reach them without the annoyance of having to back out your vehicle.
Smaller summer things can be stored in tubs, either on the attic floor or in a rack system. The rack system consists of tracks attached to the garage ceiling. They are spaced so that plastic storage tubs or bins slide into the tracks by the outer lip on top of the bins. Label them on all sides first, and you’ll know just what is in each bin and which ones to take out to get to them.
How Do You Store a Sandbox in the Winter?
Sandboxes have always been a favorite with children. They create a lot of opportunities for children to use their imaginations. They do need a bit of care, however. They should be kept covered when not in use. This prevents tree or other debris from falling in and also keeps wandering animals from using them as a litter box. Since sandboxes are usually made from a wooden frame and are essentially a permanent fixture in the yard, they should be also be covered during the winter.
First, take any toys or other objects out and store them. Remove all debris such as leaves and twigs. Smooth out the sand with a rake or hoe, making sure that the sand is not piled up higher than the top edges of the sandbox frame. A simple but effective cover can be made with plywood sheets. Measure the sandbox from the outside of the frame, then get sufficient plywood to cover it.
You may need more than one sheet if the box is large. You only need a few bricks or cinder blocks placed on the plywood over the frame at the corners and perhaps in the middle of the sides to keep it down. Avoid placing cinder blocks in the center of the plywood to prevent sagging or cracking when it gets wet. They’ll be easy to remove in the spring.
Storing summer outdoor toys during the winter (or winter toys during the summer) can really take up space. Many outdoor toys are fairly large, and even a small assortment of them can be a pain to store. Fortunately, a few ideas can create the space you need, keep those toys sorted, and keep them from being damaged by weather or careless storage. Now that you have the toys sorted and safely stored, how about a method to store and sort your tools?