Organizing Barbies

michie1November 4, 2004

My daughter is just starting to accumulate Barbie things. We so far have the dolls in a plastic boot box, the clothes & accessories in a Barbie hard sided container which I hate b/c although there are sections they are not all closed off so as soon as you shut the box everything falls around & gets mixed up again.

For Xmas she is getting ALLOT more Barbie things - the whole Happy Family (& house), 4 Disney Princess barbies & a bunch of My Scene dolls, lil bratz dolls & some more clothing & accessories.

What is the best way to organize the barbies? For starters I was THINKING of getting one of the fashion doll door pockets for the inside of an electrical closet door I have in my basement (that's where her playroom is)- has anyone used them & had any success with them? What is the best way to store all the other things from clothes to accessories & let's not forget the cars & larger furniture items.


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My daughter kept her Barbie things in a large trunk - she pulled out what she wanted to play with and when she was done playing everything got thrown back into the trunk. My experience has been that when it comes to children you need to make clean up and organization as easy as possible. If you have little compartments for each type of item it's more likely to leave your child frustrated and less willing to clean up her toys since it takes so much time.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 2:02PM
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A large trunk sounds like chaos though when it comes to little Barbie sized shoes & accesories.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 2:08PM
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When my girls were young they had a ton of Barbies along with the accessories in a very small bedroom which they shared. They kept everything in a couple of those rolling 3 drawer units and Barbie's Jeep, Corvette, boat, etc. went on shelves. The Barbie dream house was folded up after they were done and pushed under a bed. The little girl across the alley had twice as much Barbie stuff as my girls and she carried everything over in those plastic storage tubs with lids. When they played Barbies outside, it looked like the house threw up, expelling Barbie junk all over the yard. I was amazed that they always knew who owned what stuff.

I would probably sort the clothes in some of those plastic shoebox type containers that come in various sizes. You could have clothes in one (or several containers if needed) and accessories in another. Shoes could go in one of those rubbermaid containers like what you would store leftovers in and then put it into the clothes bin. If you have a shelving unit in the playroom, everything could then be put on shelves.


    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 2:27PM
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A friend with a 4 year old daughter insisted on buying little clothes hangers for all of the Barbie clothes and little boxes for shoes, etc. Those of us with daughters over the age of 8 just laughed - no matter how much you try to "organize" Barbie - you'll end up with shoes and little accessories everywhere. Her daughter is now 6 and she appreciates our advice about the controlled chaos that is the Barbie world (perhaps those little clothes hangers are at the bottom of a rubbermaid tub somewhere).

We just packed up my 12 year old daughter's Barbie trunk and put it in the attic - hopefully my granddaughters will enjoy finding the treasures at the bottom of the trunk someday!

I gave you my best advise earlier, good luck!

    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 4:45PM
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OK, from the woman who has in her home 24 Barbies (though maybe more; not sure how long ago I counted) and 8 Kens.

THIS IS THE LAST YEAR! Don't allow this Christmas to repeat itself.

You need to make this absolutely clear to EVERYONE in your daughter's life. No more Barbies. When you send out b-day party invites in the future, write at the bottom "no more Barbies, please"

There will be times when something IS the perfect Barbie gift. Insist the other people leave you (and her little brother) ROOM to buy her the perfect Barbie present. Don't tell them that's the reason; just tell them your home is overwhelmed by all the stuff.

Maybe, maybe, they can buy more clothes.

And you need to be tough w/ her, too--she gets a new one, she has to either give IT or an OLD one to the kids who don't have any.

Or, at the very least, get her to put it in deep storage, and then make an excuse the first time she asks to get it out again. If she asks twice, good. If not, even better, and after 6 months or so, throw it out.

I'm telling you, I'm telling you, I'm telling you--from bitter, bitter experience.

They will take OVER your life.

Also, I found w/ my DD, that the more she had, the more she got out. The more she got out, the LESS time she spent PLAYING (which is the fun and the educational part) and the more she spent setting up. And cleaning up.

She'd spend 15 minutes setting up, 5 minutes playing and 10 minutes putting it away.

And how much she got out increased EXPONENTIALLY w/ the number of dolls she got out to play with.
4 dolls = 8 dresses, 4 plates, 4 cups, 6 pieces of food.
12 dolls = 24 dresses, 12 plates, 12 cups, 20 pieces of food.

For a while I was able to enforce the rule: you may only PLAY WITH 6 dolls at a time. The dolls have to take turns. But often I wasn't watching, and she'd get them all out. i tried to tell her, "more dolls in play = less fun," but she never did get it.

I put shoes in a container w/ little compartments. For a while, she kept them sorted. But mostly, it means she can see what's in there.

Dresses went in a plastic shoe-box (w/ an attached lid, no extra pieces, thank you--Sterilite). They're surprisingly bulky, so a slightly bigger one would probably have been better.

Food, etc., went in a separate box. I got one of those "project cases" from Staples that is essentially a 1.5-inch-deep box that's 8.5x11. So all the tiny pieces could SPREAD OUT, and she could find them.

Have as few of them as possible.

I have a big bank of Sterilite drawers, and the furniture goes in one of them. Actually, the Barbies & Kens do, too. The car and the van go under the bed. We don't have a house; we have small squares of very thick upholstery fabric that serve as rooms; they fold up and go in the furniture drawers.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 7:04PM
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The 3 drawer units are an organizers lifesafer. I too love them & think they are a perfect answer to the barbie dolls, clothes & accessories, but I'm already running out of floor space so I am hoping to find other ways to store them.

I lived in an apt & was a Barbie (& paperdoll) fanatic so I know how much stuff you can accumulate but I also know how much fun the stuff is & now that my daughter is 3 & FINALLY she's into this I jumped right in b/c I'm reliving my childhood. I'm not to the point where I'd tell people to stop getting her Barbies, this is her 1st yr she's getting so much - she got a few things for her bdy & as hand me downs, but I must have them organized although I have to say hangers are a bit much for me. My daughter would obviously never be able to help clean up that. Even as a child I labeled my paperdolls by family & placed them in manilla envelopes, so I am trying to encourage the same neatness with my daughter's toys. I finally donated my barbies & paperdolls when I was 25 & got tired of lugging them with me from apt to apt. Now that I have a daughter of course I regret it.

Thanks for the ideas


    Bookmark   November 4, 2004 at 9:38PM
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AAAACCCKKKK! From the moment my daughter turned 2, she was in love with Barbies. I have no idea where it came from, considering she has 2 older brothers. (Maybe genetic? I loved Barbies, too.) I will be honest - the Barbie stage was absolute cluttermania for us. I never did get a system down for her. I tried many different things and eventually we just started throwing them into the huge, space-eater Barbie house. Last summer DD announced she is finished with Barbies. I was hesitant to get rid of it, and yet I relished the idea of no Barbie clutter. I don't miss it!

Sheryl (who was of no help, I know! Sorry!)

    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 1:00AM
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Sit down on the floor with her, play with her, watch her, and see what she does with a few plastic boxes. She will teach YOU how she puts them away and where everything goes.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 7:20AM
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I organized our Barbie shoes in the vacuum bag! I would always have those things under foot, and every now & then would get sick of them. I always swore that the vacuum was invented by a mother with Barbie shoes to pick up! We used to keep all the Barbie stuff in a huge box. If they never really had a problem finding what they wanted (yes, all the shoes were at the bottom), and it was easy to pick up. I was SO happy to get rid of all that stuff!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 8:35AM
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While I agree that the volume of Barbie junk can be a bit overwhelming, I have to say that my girls have wonderful memories of their time playing with them and I am glad I did not set limits with them on how many or how they could play with them. No offense Talley, but why would you feel you need to tell your daughter how to play? As long as the rule is enforced that you clean up the mess you make, where's the problem? We often look at pictures and laugh at the Barbie explosions in our house and yard, and then they talk about how fun it was. They also didn't spend all of their time with what we would call "playing" but they spent a great deal of time "accessorizing" their Barbies/Kens. It was fun, big deal. I understand that you have a limited amount of space, we did too at that time. Our house at that time was less than 800 square feet and we had 5 people, a dog, and a cat living there. We just simply stood fast to the rule that if you made a mess, you cleaned it up, period.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 9:45AM
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when my DD is complaining in tears of frustration and disappointment that she's being told to clean up right after she finished SETTING up and she didn't get any time to actually PLAY, she had a problem. I was problem-solving for her--at 5, she wasn't going to figure out that she'd have more "pretending" time if she used fewer dolls. I couldn't just "let her play longer"--it was bedtime, or time to leave the house, or something.

And, I got sick of the argument over it. And of how much time it took to actually clean up--more than I estimated, and so we were rushed.

I think moms DO have the right to set rules for VOLUME. That's now "controlling HOW my child plays." A child can play the same "how" with six Barbies or with 12. Maybe not w/ 2, I'll grant you that.

I was also trying to influence the organizing of our family's TIME--not just the space. In fact, almost not the space at ALL. The time. And the whining. And the fighitng about it.

Here's how I know I was right--when she DID follow my rule (which really was more of a strong recommendation, since I didn't really enforce it) to play w/ only 6, she had more fun!

If it had been clear to me that the "setting up" or accessorizing was the part she most enjoyed, I wouldn't have said anything. But it became clear that it WASN'T.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 10:14AM
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my point about Barbies is this: Even though *I* never bought her another Barbie after the end of her 4th year, and even though I tried to gently discourage other people from doing so, she now, at age 10, has more than 25 Barbies, and 8 Kens.

Where did they come from? Other people.

You can TELL people not to get her any more, but they still will.

By telling people not to, you will only "keep it down to a dull roar." You will not be ABLE to prevent any more from coming in. Someone will either ignore your request, forget it, never hear it, or override it bcs the present is just TOO perfect. So you won't be depriving her for life of new Barbies. You *will* be slowing the tide.

Bcs, you see, she's just starting. Barbies today are differnent than when I was a kid (OK, I'm 44, so that was a LONG time ago). When I was a kid, Barbies were expensive. Kids who had 4 were RICH! I thought I was really being indulged when I was given a Skipper.

Now, Barbies are $5 to $7. Some are more, but a lot are not. They're an easy gift to buy for b-day parties, etc. And maybe you live w/ a bunch of Grinches, but you don't sound like the sort of person who does--you sound generous and indulgent, and I bet you learned that from the folks around you.

That means, all the folks around you are gonna buy indulgent presents for your kid. And a $7 Barbie, or $14 packs of clothes, or $29 cars, are gonna be in your future at every gift-giving occasion.

And, the MOMENT aunts, uncles, friends of all ages, etc., realize that she likes Barbies, they are gonna go overboard, right along with YOU.

And she's only THREE.

Leave some room for "future expansion," and try to establish "controlled growth," is what I'm saying.

Then, when he best friend at age 4 insists on getting her a Sleeping Beauty Barbie, bcs she KNOWS (rightly) that your DD will love it, or your future DS wants to get her a Barbie car (bcs he loves cars, and she loves Barbies, he argues--how can you fight that?) you can welcome it enthusiastically into your daughter's room, and not cringe at the idea of trying to shoe-horn it in among all the OTHER stuff that didn't come w/ such love behind it.

Drop me a line when she's 10, and tell me whether I was right.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 10:24AM
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I do have the same battle with clean up time. While I insist she does it it isnt' without my having to remind & help everytime. Eventually I hope she'll do it on her own, I also try to have her play with 1 thing at a time, but it doens't usually work b/c I'm not there watching her all the time.

As far as gifts - she really only gets gifts from 3 people - my sister, my Dad & my friend who I'm godmother to her daughter so she doesn't have allot of family who will give her gifts & those people always get what I want for her as I do for them & their kids.

I will have to be more diligent about weeding out but only when she's outgrown things. I remember by age 10 or so I was more into clothes, so there aren't too many years of this. Hee! Hee!


    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 11:42AM
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I agree w/Talley Sue. And remember your daughter is only 3 and so has probably not been hit by the onslaught of birthday parties -- I recall one party when my daughter received 13 barbie dolls from her friends. Barbie is a cheap gift that makes a great gift.

The good thing is that Barbie becomes taboo around the 3rd grade - the girls still play with them but nobody will admit to their friends that they play with them. Last year my daughter refused to allow her friends in our playroom because of the huge pink Barbie house set up in one corner of the room. So you see - the pink Barbie onslaught will come to an end eventually!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 12:31PM
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Here's my 2 cents....Make sure her little friends come over to play with HER, not her toys! Let's hope when the toys are gone, the friends aren't too.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2004 at 5:02PM
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You'll notice from my above post that I've handled this area quite well. I did find sorting by category has worked better for us than dumping everything into 1 larger area.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2005 at 10:22AM
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