Play is the most important work of childhood. Through creative play, kids become thinkers, problem solvers, and so much more. But, just because play is important doesn’t mean their play area has to be a complete mess. Consider some of these simple tips for organizing your play room efficiently – and finally get the space in order.
Begin sorting like items. This means separating the toy trains from the play kitchen stuff… Put food, dishes, and accessories in one pile, and play vehicles in another. Stack all books in one location. Find bins or plastic totes to put the different toy items in. This will contain them until you’re ready to deal with them.
Once the items are separated and contained, go through each container. You will be able to see how many toys your children and decide which they have outgrown. Look at these and pack away any that your kids are emotionally attached to so they can have them as adults.
Now, go through the rest of the toys with a ruthlessness. Decide if you will:
keep it – then put it in its permanent home immediately.
donate it – and do it within three days by dropping it at Goodwill or a local shelter; whichever is most appropriate.
toss it – especially if it’s worn, broken, or missing pieces.
sell it – but only if you can have your garage sale, Craigslist ad, or whatever organized and held within the week. Donate whatever doesn’t sell.
Whatever you do, don’t put anything back in the play room once you’ve sorted it. Don’t second guess yourself.
After you’ve purged your children’s toys, come up with a way to organize them. Get your kids’ input – ask them what would be the best method to help them remember to put things away when they’re done playing. Get them on the same page as you from the get-go, and you’ll have better luck getting them to stick with it. We use IKEA shelves with labeled plastic bins. It was a small initial investment, but the kids use it, so it’s worth it.
Think about what you’ve tried to use for organizing in the past. Why hasn’t it worked? Maybe they can’t open the lid to the toy box. Perhaps they can’t reach the shelves where you like to keep their games. If the system is tough for them, they won’t use it, and you’ll end up doing the cleaning and feeling frustrated.
One trick we’ve used ever since Trevor was tiny, was to take a photo of the contents of each drawer as we organize the room. We print the photo, and attach it to the front of the bin or drawer with clear contact paper. The kids know exactly where everything goes with a quick glance around.
Have a specific place for them to be creative. A table and chairs with all arts and crafts supplies nearby may be just what your children need. Put a small bookshelf by the table with small bins with crayons, markers, clay or other craft items. Ask them to put things back when they’re finished with them to ensure the supplies don’t dry out or get ruined by some other means.
Take the time to help your children clean their play area or room after the new organization method is put in place. Show them where each item goes, point out the pictures and how you want the room to look when it is clean. Then let them do the work and you supervise, giving suggestions along the way.
When you’ve used some of these tips on organizing your play room efficiently and the children know what you expect, they should be able to keep their room in shape. I hope you’ll let me know how it goes!