Packing Toys for Moving or for Storage

Moving or storing toys is genuinely a little more than picking up the toy box and putting it down. easyStorage offers a six point guide to keeping your children’s precious toys safe, and reducing the trauma of a move.

Lyra and Liam have topped the charts for baby names in 2021, for girls and boys respectively. So, for the purposes of this article, we’re using these as the names of our toy owners. Because, like it or not, when it comes to you packing, Lyra and Liam are a major consideration. 

Toys may just be bits of wood or fabric at the end of the day, but each comes with its own story, its own battle scars, and its own memories. Whilst sometimes lacking any monetary value, these belongings may be amongst your most precious. So when packing to move, or putting them into storage, they demand as much care as those crystal glasses. 

Stuffed animals, in particular, can be very important to children. More than mere toys, they become friends who can listen or console. A 2019 poll by online estate agents Yopa revealed that 40% of home owners ranked moving house as the most stressful event they’ve had to overcome. So, whilst the adults around them are stressing, Lyra and Liam may need their plushy emotional props more than ever. 

If our little angels are older, the emotional ties to these toys may actually lie with us. I confess that last time I moved home I got rid of practically everything, from kettles and toasters through to tables. But my children’s first toys? No way! The little wooden train that the eldest played with? No, that’s hanging around for the grandchildren. The youngest had an amazing way with animals, so his stuffed dog and wooden kennel are going nowhere. Now in their 20s, it’s me who’s the hoarder.  

It’s also worth retaining a sense of perspective. When our eldest was little, Teddy went missing. We had a whole week of sleepless nights, despite having reassured him that Teddy was walking home and had just been to see a poorly little girl who needed a hug. (Hey, we needed time to buy an exact replica online!) But when Teddy finally arrived back with us – or at least imposter Teddy - he’d long since been forgotten.  

With stress and emotions running high, packing Lyra and Liam’s toys may prove more challenging than you think. So prepare well! Here’s our 6-point guide to ensuring that Lyra and Liam’s special toys stay special, whether being packed for a move or simply put into storage. 

1. Create Strategy, Begin Negotiations 

You know your child and your parenting style better than anyone else, so take from here only what works for you. 

Letting Lyra and Liam decide which toys they want to stay out of the boxes offers them some degree of control but be warned. They may want to change their minds.  

Lay out boundaries at the outset. These might include the number of toys being kept out; limiting which rooms they are allowed to pack things in; explaining why the change is happening, how it’s good for them, and how you’re all going to be feeling. If you’re moving house, rather than simply storing, some children may benefit from physically helping pack their own toys. But for some, this can be disturbing, so you may not want them involved. 

Children need to know when they’ll be reunited with what’s being packed: unless you want to be unpacking on the eve of a move, they need to understand that what goes into a box will have to stay there. 

So trust your own instinct. If Lyra and Liam decide that they want their favourite toys to be packed up safe, some parents may decide that this is ok, that children need to learn consequences to decisions. Others may quietly unpack what’s been packed to keep those soothers as an ace up their sleeves. Still may feel that getting their child involved at all is more than they, or their child, can cope with emotionally. After all, doesn’t every parent know that the moment something’s put away, it will become their child’s favourite toy, even if they haven’t looked at it for years? 

The only right way to manage moving is the way that’s right for you: as long as you do your best to be sensitive to your child’s needs, no-one can ask more of you. 

2. Have a sort out 

I swear stuffed animals breed, scoffing way too much storage space. This can become a real issue before a house move. 

It’s worth remembering that if you feel overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of toys accumulating, so may your child. By thinning out their options, you may actually be giving them better access. 

If packing soft toys for moving, this is a chance to review the entire collection of stuffed animals with a view to relocating them to another ‘zoo’ (the charity shop, friend’s children, or even (sadly) the bin).  

The best toys for rehoming are the ones that are in good condition but that your child never plays with anymore. 

This needs to be viewed in context. If a soft toy is so used that it’s balding or losing its stuffing, there’s a fair chance it’s being loved to death. What we may regard as dirty and unattractive may be your child’s best friend. Only you can take a view on the ones in bad condition, like losing their stuffing, whether to repair or recycle. 

Remember that if you do plan to donate, they will need to be cleaned/sanitised. 

3. Prepare toys for packing  

If you still have the toys’ original boxes, these may be the best place to pop them for a move. The packaging may take more space, but will be designed to protect the item. 

Puzzles, boxed book sets, board games and other toys that are generally stored in their own box should be be taped down securely so that items inside don't fall out or get lost in transit. (Use masking tape for easy removal - packing tape can be difficult to remove without damaging the toys’ boxes.) 

Remove water from water pistols, bath toys etc and make sure they’re dry before you pack. If they go into storage damp, or are moved and the box is not opened immediately, you may end up with mould, to say nothing of water spilling onto toys that shouldn’t get wet (eg boxes or electronics). 

For the same reason, clean and dry all toys before packing. Vacuum cleaners are useful to remove dust from otherwise clean plush toys, but a word to the wise: ensure the suction is set to the lowest level to prevent teddy disappearing up the hose, getting ripped or ‘balding’.  Dry cleaning is a great option, but make sure you have enough time to retrieve the toys before a move, and that there is time to air them. (The smell of dry cleaning fluids can be overpowering.) 

Remove and bag any loose pieces or accessories, and fix them to what they belong with (eg dolls clothes with the doll, game pieces with the board etc). The same applies to bits that may come loose during the move. 

Use disinfectant wipes to clean plastic or metal toys like garages or cars. Make sure they’re dry before packing. 

Remove batteries! It stop the toys singing, talking, croaking, howling, meowing, bleating, squeaking, quacking, mooing, woofing, cackling,  trumpeting, walking or dancing, during the move. But battery  removal is about more than simply saving your sanity – although in fairness, as a bonus, it’s a great one.  Batteries left in may leak or corrode, damaging not only the toy that it’s in, but others as well. 

Wash and dry anything fabric. 

4. Assemble what you’ll need to pack  

So now your sorted toys are clean, dry and ready to pack. 

To pack them, you’ll need boxes, packing paper (clean, not newspaper – the print will come off on the toys), and  sealable plastic bags for the toys with small pieces, mentioned above).  

Have to hand things for labelling, including a permanent marker pen. 

Prepare a mix of small and medium sized boxes for packing. If you have mounds of soft toys that don’t weigh a lot, a large box will serve, but heavier plastic toys and electronics should be packed into smaller boxes for ease of moving and to avoid damage. 

5. Packing 

Make sure each unboxed toy is individually wrapped in clean packing paper.  

The more expensive toys are often the delicate ones. Pack these first in a separate box: the longer they are left out in the chaos of packing, the more likely they are to get broken. Getting them packed will keep them safe.  

Unless there are unbreakable boxed toys at the base, line the box with paper or cloth before placing the toys in. This helps reduce the effect of any jolts. 

Put heavier/sturdier toys in at the base.  Stuff any gaps between toys with more paper, or (wrapped) plushy toys.  Stuffed animals can act as great cushions for protecting other, harder toys, but watch out for anything that could rip them. 

Leave a small gap at the top of boxes to allow air to circulate. Don’t squish things down – they’ll lose their shape and may split. 

Don’t pack soft toys in plastic/bin bags unless simply moving overnight. Thin plastic can stick to toys and offers no protection. 

6. Seal and mark the box 

As you finish packing each box, mark which end is the top, what‘s inside (contents), and if it’s for a house move rather than storage, also note the room the box is destined for.  

Sealed boxes with a good packing tape. 

Once packed, some people like to let children decorate their own boxes – depending upon their age, it keeps Lyra and Liam entertained and gives them a sense of ownership. Only you can guestimate whether letting your offspring loose with felt tips on the eve of a house move is a great idea! 

If you need packing materials for your move or for storage, easyStorage boxes is here to help: easyStorage Boxes

And if you need self-storage, easyStorage prices are around half the price of traditional self-storage AND they collect and drop back your belongings: the easyStorage Difference.

They can even do the packing for you!