Kids bring so much joy and excitement into the world, but with kids comes clutter. Over the years, it’s inevitable that rooms throughout your home will multiply with gear, clothes and, of course, toys. Why is it that it takes hours, sometimes even days, to clean and organize playrooms, but it only takes seconds for the toys to be all over the room again?
According to The Genius of Play, an initiative spearheaded by The Toy Association to raise awareness with parents, caregivers, and educators about the importance of play, too many choices that are unorganized can make it difficult to find a toy to play with at all.
Keri Wilmot, a pediatric occupational therapist, says, “Part of parenthood is learning how to keep up with and organize all the ‘kid stuff,’ that occupy the playroom and bedroom. Unfortunately, too many “things” can lead to toy rooms becoming a safety issue. Aside from a parent’s number one fear of tripping and stepping on building bricks, young children will try and put small toys in their mouths which are a potential choking hazard. Additionally, playrooms full of toys can be very overwhelming and distracting to kids.”
Since kids need to play to learn, Wilmot recommends these tips to clean up clutter and make your child’s playroom more conducive for playtime.
1. Bins. Whether they are open bins, closed clear plastic bins with lids, canvas laundry bins, colored buckets or baskets—bins are a great playroom storage option to organize and contain toys, art supplies, and games. While it’s easy for young kids to put all their toys in a large toy box or open container when cleaning up, the bigger the bin is, the harder it can be to locate a specific toy without emptying the entire bin. Clear bins make it easy for kids to identify the contents but might be best organized for use inside a closet. Colored or decorative bins, when designing a playroom, can provide a more visually appealing and minimalistic view.
2. Cabinets vs. Shelves. Looking for furniture to help organize and can’t decide between cabinets or shelves? You aren’t alone. Depending on your children’s age and abilities, storage options will change as they grow and achieve more independence. While storing items in cabinets can help reduce the appearance of clutter, a combination of the two might be your best option. Toys that you don’t want kids to have access to or that require adult assistance are best stored in closed bins inside a cabinet or closet that is inaccessible to kids. Make sure to secure any shelves or furniture to the wall for safety so they do not tip over.
3. Rotate Toys. Too many options for play isn’t always the best, as kids can have challenges deciding what to play with, which leads to not playing at all or playing with the same toys over and over. Put unused or seasonal toys in bins inside a closet or in a storage area. Rotate them in and out of the play area every few weeks. This gives kids new options to play with regularly, which can reduce the chances of boredom.
4. Donate Toys Regularly. Come up with a donation or a general plan to pass toys on to new owners when they’ve maxed out on play. Right before the holidays, a birthday or at the change of every season are great times to have kids help decide which toys to donate. Find a neighbor with a younger child, or donate to a charitable organization, church, school or daycare. You can even try and recoup a little money to buy new toys after selling them at a yard sale or through Facebook marketplace. Make sure to throw away any broken, hazardous, or recalled toys that are unsafe.
5. Look for Space-Saving Toys. Wondering if you have enough space to fit a playhouse or tent in the room? Big toys like kitchens and playhouses offer a lot of fun but often take up a lot of space and tend to include a lot of small toys. Look for pop-up tents, tunnels, and playhouses with pieces and parts that can be easily taken down and folded up for storage when not in use.
6. Set s Clean-up Schedule. Set a schedule to regularly clean up the toys together. Teaching kids about sorting and categorizing items back into their correct spot is an excellent educational opportunity. Turn on some musical tunes and see who can put toys away the fastest.
7. Get the Toys Up Off the Floor. You’ve probably seen all the memes about stepping on building bricks. Hopefully you haven’t experienced it yourself. Consider child-sized furniture, such as a table and chairs, to include in the playroom for seating and play. A table can get small toys up off the floor, and it offers a stable surface to play on when making creations.
8. Use the Walls. Vertical surfaces such as easels are great for kids to draw on, but they take up space so consider using walls as a surface instead. Install a whiteboard or use paint to create a chalkboard right on the wall to save space and promote creativity. For avid readers, bookshelves can be attached to the wall at eye level as well.
While it can seem daunting and overwhelming, try not to let organizing the playroom become a stressful activity! Your hard work will surely pay off. When kids have an organized space to play in, they will have more amazing playful opportunities to promote their learning.