Friday, January 3, 2014

Lego Organization. How We Roll.

You may remember when I first approached this daunting topic, here. You know, the impossible feat of organizing organisms...well, they feel that small to me. Since Christmas, Hanukah, and a December birthday have passed, we have been hit again by the influx of yet, MORE LEGO! I think I need a support group.

Recently, I was asked about Lego organization by a flustered friend of mine and it inspired me to write this follow up post on what storage solution is working best for us (more like a work in progress). These tiny little evil bricks have caused equal amounts of joy and pain in our home. Mental and physical - the bottom of your feet will agree, and my eyeballs cannot go for more than a minute without scanning a Lego brick or mini-figure in my sight line. Legos and my boys are like peas and carrots. If you are like us, you have a Lego problem.
In all reality, the toy is fantastic. There is nothing better than watching your child sit for hours following written directions to build the monumental Death Star or Empire State Building, or use their imagination to create a masterpiece of their own. It's all educational, fun and inspiring, until it's time to clean them up. Or really, do they ever actually ALL get put away? If your answer is "yes," then I hate you. You're lying, or your kids don't love Legos the way mine do, or truthfully, maybe you're just more well adjusted and not OCD like me. This is a story about brick frustration - somewhat self-inflicted. And, continue rant...
Here is the biggest problem I have with Lego and the reason it can be the bane of my existence. Some of these more intricate Lego sets can cost in the realm of $150-$200 and up, per set. My issue is, that barring a trip to Disneyland, on nothing else would I spend this type of money for a few hours of use. My son will spend a half of a day constructing these sets, he will play with them like one would a doll house, and then what? Well, after several days, it needs to be put away. I don't have space to display every set created, and unlike many that will argue this point, I refuse to just throw them into a box with a million other sets, to never be built again as written.

I am fully aware that many parents are totally comfortable with dismantling the project and dumping it into a communal bin. This is not okay with me and it is not okay with my 8 year old. My influence? My OCD? Could be... but it really does pain me that the life span of an expensive Lego set is truncated by our ability to store it. In a perfect world, a set could be built and rebuilt again, with all of the pieces in tact. Some would argue that the communal bin inspires creativity...well, in my home, it inspires frustration and the inability to find ANYTHING! Oh, and keeping the original boxes? Not an option.
Okay, here is how we roll, and what we have discovered....

What we don't like. Don't sort by color.

Sorting by color makes it really difficult to find specifically shaped pieces. This is a common way I've heard parents say they organize, and we just think it makes pieces WAY harder to find.
Needle in a haystack.

Sort by type. We have two "types." By set, and by piece.

We found nut and bolt compartments at the hardware store which served us well in sorting the tiny and specialty pieces.

We also have some smaller sets sorted in these plastic drawers- which I hate, and they are hitting the road as soon as I can get re-organized in the new bins highlighted further down in this post.

Mini-figure/Accessories drawer

This has worked best for set-sorting

Gallon size ziploc bags work great for storing larger sets. We typically will put a set in one or two large bags and the tiny pieces in a snack or sandwich style ziploc bag.
The bags then fit nicely into a box or basket, like this one, from IKEA.
and tucked away into a shelving system like the IKEA EXPEDIT.

Lastly, OF COURSE we do have general combo bins, but we feel strongly about the preservation of some of our more special sets. Monster Fighters live with monsters and Zombies, Luke and Darth are with Jabba, and so on. Segregation is okay in the Lego community.

Good Luck. May you keep your Legos stored and your feet imprint free.

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