As any parent can tell you, having kids comes along with a whole new host of organizing challenges. Kids come with a lot of stuff; toys, stuffed animals, craft supplies, papers and more! Kids are great at making messes and not so great about cleaning them up. It’s no wonder so many parents find themselves in need of organizational help.
Creating an organized space where your children can create and play will help both you and your kids stay organized. Whether you have a whole room or just an area in a room, defining a dedicated playroom space is the first step. Keep in mind that this could be more than just one space. Maybe the kids have some toys in their rooms and some in the basement and you want to keep craft supplies near the kitchen. Think about how you want the space(s) to function and go from there.
Once you have determined where the playroom space(s) will be, you can start organizing. Here are 10 tips to create an organized playroom.
Declutter and remove as much excess stuff as possible. Part with items your kids have outgrown by giving them to a friend, relative or charity who will make use of them – this is a good teachable moment for kids. Also, be sure to get rid of obvious junk and move out of place items back to the appropriate places. Broken toys should either be fixed or retired. A select few favorite outgrown items can be set aside for a memory box.
Take a Child’s Eye View
You’ve heard of a bird’s eye view, but have you ever gotten down on the floor and looked at your house from your child’s perspective? Go down to their level and look at your space – look for hidden dangers – tippy furniture, outlets, breakable items. Prime real estate for kids is down low, so keep the most-used items low and store less-frequently used items up on higher shelves. Choose furniture and storage solutions that they can reach.
Get Everyone Involved
Getting the whole family involved in the organizing process can help ensure that everyone will be on board with maintaining the new set up. Kids can help make decisions on what goes where, choose their favorite containers and make labels. If they can get it out, they can put it away.
Go Back to School
Preschool and Kindergarten classrooms are an amazing showcase of organization; the key idea is setting up zones – reading, crafts, kitchen, blocks, etc. Sort items and give them main categories. These categories should make sense to your kids.
Choose the Right Containers
Use clear and well-labeled open containers so contents are easily identifiable. This way everyone can help with clean up. Keep containers small and manageable for the little ones, so they don’t end up dumping them everywhere. If kids know where stuff goes and it’s easy to put it there, they’ll be more likely to help put it all away.
Label, Label, Label
Labeling helps kids (and everyone else in the house) know where to find things and where to put them away. If your kids are too young to read, include a picture on the label. Or better yet, let them draw their own pictures, so they can be involved in the process.
Create a Toy Library
If you don’t have room to have all your toys out, try rotating toys. Do this by sending a selection to a ‘toy library.’ A toy library can be a bin or closet out of the way where excess toys are stored. Kids can bring a toy to the toy library to be swapped out with something else when they need a change of pace.
Find the Right Solution
If you have a specific toy issue, figure out what’s not working and then look for a solution. The internet and Pinterest are great resources. Chances are, somebody else has encountered the same issue and has shared their solution. A great example: I recently discovered The Lay ‘n Go (https://www.layngo.com/). It is a play mat that cinches up into a storage bag for quick and easy clean-up of little things like Legos and doll accessories. It makes clean up so quick and easy. Every playroom should have one of these.
Create a Clean Up Habit
Most kids like putting stuff where it goes from an early age. Practice making toy clean up part of your daily routine and teach them that it’s also more fun to come back to a calm, clear space the next day rather than a chaotic mess. It’s like a new blank slate for play and creativity rather than a stressful sea of stuff that leaves them not knowing where to start.
Take it Easy and Keep it Simple
Remember that life with kids is a bit messy – and that’s ok! While getting organized when you have kids is both possible and beneficial, it’s also good to keep in mind that life with kids can just plain be messy. The key to keeping your sanity and your house in check is to have simple systems that make for quick and easy clean up.
By Sarah Buckwalter
Certified Professional Organizer®
Sarah Buckwalter is a Certified Professional Organizer® with over 18 years of experience in home, move and office organization. She is the founder of Organizing Boston. Organizing Boston is the largest professional organizing firm in New England and was awarded Best of Boston Home™, Best Professional Organizer.
Nationally recognized as an organizing industry expert, Sarah shares her expertise through speaking, writing and on television. She is a regular guest blogger for nationwide companies and has appeared several times on the hit series, “Hoarding: Buried Alive” on TLC.