I can’t vouch for whether toys talk to one another when I’m out of the room, but I’m pretty sure they multiply. And if you’ve ever stepped on a Lego in the dark, or searched high and low for the last missing puzzle piece, you know that proper toy organization can change your life.

And you’re hardly alone: According to a recent SpareFoot survey 83 percent of parents said they would feel less stressed out if their kids’ toys were better organized.

Our survey also found that more than 20 percent of parents with young children have no organization system for toys—which means toys are randomly scattered throughout the home.

Looking to tame the chaos? We’ve got you covered with three simple tips to organize toys once and for all.

1. Organize Toys with Storage Containers.

Turns out that almost any receptacle can become a great toy organizer. Here are some suggestions to help corral the toughest toy problems, from Marty Basher, home organization expert at Modular Closets:

  • Shoe organizers. Use a clear plastic hanging shoe organizer to store action figures,  Barbie dolls, Legos and art supplies—the options are endless. “Shoe organizers make toys accessible, which makes it easier for kids to clean up,” Basher adds.
  • Mason jars.  A neat row of Mason jars are an excellent storage solution for crayons, markers, pencils, paintbrushes, glitter, glue sticks, scissors and more.
  • Side of crib. It’s hard to part with a crib that your child has outgrown, but it’s often impractical to store. Give a crib a second life by taking it apart and using the slatted side to hang your child’s favorite books vertically.  “This way, the book titles will be visible to your child, and they can easily choose a book to read without emptying an entire shelf.”
  • Hampers. Hampers are easy to move and simple for your child to access—to take toys out but also to put them back. “The hamper lid is ideal for keeping toys out of sight when they’re not being used.” Basher says.

Clear “latch”-style bins are the container of choice for Amanda Jefferson, owner of Indigo Organizing in Media, Pennsylvania.

“They are affordable, stackable, easy for little hands to open and come in lots of sizes to store many different types of toys and collections,” she says. “Use a chalk marker to label them, which can be easily erased and re-written as the toys change,” she suggests.

2. Play “Zone” Defense.

Once you organize toys into proper containers, they still need a place to live. Take a tip from teachers everywhere and organize your play area into “zones.” Keeping board games, Barbies, blocks and balls in separate areas eliminates disorder.

Create your “zones” by deciding what items should be played with where, suggests Patty Morrissey, personal organizing and lifestyle consultant.

Keep art supplies near the kitchen to make cleanup easier. Store board games in the living room so the whole family can play.

As for the playroom itself, create areas where toys can be stored and accessed easily. For example:

  • Put dress-up items in one corner near a full-length mirror.
  • Place the play kitchen in another corner.
  • Store construction toys like Legos and blocks in drawers near a large floor space.

3. Have Fewer Toys.

You knew this was coming, but it’s really the best solution, Jefferson says. And, yep, the KonMari method works with kids too. In fact, she says they understand this concept even better than adults.

“I help my clients’ kids tune into what ‘sparks joy’ so that they can identify their favorites and let everything else go,” she says.

Another practical rule is that for every new toy that comes in, the child must choose not just one, but three, to give away.

“This really forces the child to be sure that this new toy deserves a place in the home, and it also helps quickly identify those non-favorites that they are surprisingly quick to let go of,” Jefferson says.

Cathie Ericson