Every parent can agree, kids collect limitless stuff. There are toys, puzzles, art supplies, dolls, cars of every size, Play Doh, trains and games. Everything seems to have a million pieces and for every “real” teacup, oven and lawn mower in your home, you probably have a small plastic version for the kids. They collect junk, I mean “treasures”, and want to keep every piece of paper onto which they have ever scribbled a line as a masterpiece of art. Yet with so much stuff, kids still complain “I’m bored, can I watch a show?” Even the most organized parent can be left wondering how to contain the mess while providing a consistent array of stimulating activities to grow their minds and entertain their souls.
The ideal playroom can be a treat for kids and allow adults to reclaim other areas of the home.
1. Start with a clean slate. Sort through all the above mentioned “treasures” and donate or throw away those items which are no longer age appropriate, are no longer used, are duplicates or just seem to offer little developmental value. For kids under two, you can do this with them in the room. Take out some toys a couple at a time to see what they use and what they ignore. Swiftly remove ignored items and never put them in sight of the child again. For older kids you can ask them what things are MOST important to them and explain they are giving the things that aren’t “their favorites” to kids who aren’t as lucky and don’t have so many toys. Or for either age group, you may choose to quietly remove some things you know they don’t really need and think they won’t notice are gone. I usually do a mix of both.
2. Create categories. By creating customized categories such as dolls, moving vehicles, puzzles, art supplies, Legos, Play Doh and accessories, you can best assess what kind of storage is required.
3. Create homes. Every category of toy needs a home. Toys with a home are MUCH more likely to find their home at the end of a play session. Younger kids need clear instructions for cleaning up and “all Legos must be in that basket before we can play a new game” is easier on the child and parents than “we need to get these Legos out of the way.” Personally I like a combination of shelves, baskets and bins. Items like Legos and other building blocks may need their own smaller bins while moving vehicles or dolls can all be stored in fairly large baskets. Items that kids can access anytime can be placed on lower shelves while things you may want to restrict (ie paint, games with small pieces) can go on higher shelves.
4. Get creative. The room should be fun and playful. Let your kids choose the colors or an accent color if their choice is a bit too much of a commitment for you. Paint is an inexpensive and dramatic change to any room whether on the wall or on the baskets. Choose a dramatic rug that won’t show spilled marker, Play Doh or apple juice. And don’t forget artwork – playful inspirations or your family masterpieces.
5. Don’t forget function. Kids need a table for games, art and play. Their playroom should have one just their size. Don’t forget your comfort and put in adult sized chairs for reading to kids or watching their play. Try not to overwhelm the room with furniture and bins. Kids need space to move around, imagine and bring out their toys.
Don’t have a designated playroom? Use the same principles in the child’s bedroom or designated area of the living room to achieve the same results.
If you remember these five important points, kids will play more and spend less time begging for screen time! If you are overwhelmed by the thought or can’t find the creativity, call Imagine Home Organization and let us transform your space.