Organizing Play Spaces
It is such a compliment when a friend or reader contacts me asking me for my help with one of their projects at home. My friend Jennifer really needed some help organizing play spaces in her home.
Last week my BFF from High School sent me this text
“Hey Random Question and please feel free to say no if you’re too busy. I’m trying to figure out a way to make our playroom/guest room more functional and create a kids craft area on top of carpet. One catch, I really need to use existing things we have.”
I’m never too busy to help a friend especially when it involves organizing and decorating.. .Just don’t ask me to help cook! I did however have one condition. I agreed to help if she would let me write about it. That way you guys can learn this process too!
You see I have seen so many people ask “How do I get my kids to clean?” and “How do you organize kids play spaces?” I’ve decided since this is a hot topic on everyone’s mind that I will make a step by step guide to this process. Over the next few weeks, once a week I will publish a guide. We will also get to follow along with Jen’s progress in her playroom transformation. Fun Right? Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss a post.
So let’s get started.
Before you ask how to get kid’s to clean up we need to evaluate your play space. Now keep in mind we are evaluating this space for design and functionality. (Jennifer and I have discussed her needs in detail. Please don’t think my evaluation is harsh, many of the things I mention were already recognized by my dear friend)
1) Storage is not labeled. If I can’t tell what goes here neither can your small children. Also primary colors are great but this unit doesn’t really fit into your design. Try to always purchase shelving and organization units that are neutral. But if you get one like this for a steal use it in a closet for rotating toys!
2) Everything has to have it’s place! What’s all that stuff on your guest’s table? Let’s find a new home for daily items.
3) Wow, look at that TV, it’s huge. Can you move it out all together? Will you be replacing it? Is it worth all the space it takes up? Evaluate all of your large items like this one.
4) Hmm? Is that the Pirate ship table? Not sure. These items need a more specific home.
5) Too many things too little space. Let’s relocate and organize a bit. Can some of these items be stored for rotation?
6) Awesome shelf! It matches your decor. It has plenty of storage but wait no labels! We’ll have to fix that!
7) I love this glider! I’ve sat in it and it’s so comfy! But it’s huge and so far this room only sits one. Jennifer want’s space for friends to sit. As of now they can sit on the floor or the bed. That’s not going to work. Make sure furniture is functional for your space. Move it out and use other pieces from your home if available.
8) Uh oh! I spot to lone rangers. What can we do to make these items more interesting and less lost looking?
9) This whole wall is a mod podge of things. What is in the hanging organizer? Can it be moved for the kids to use? Do you use that bench. If not move it out. There are so many stuffed animals in that basket and I know you have more stored in the hamper. Time to purge or store.
Was that overwhelming? Sometimes it takes another pair of eyes to help you figure out your problem areas.
Your First Assignment (yes you, many of these things you can do to)
First thing.. Recognize you have too many toys out for your kids. PERIOD. Don’t think that they will be damaged because you store some toys. Kids learn much better when they are not in the midst of chaos or too many choices. Once you realize this the whole process is much easier!
- Organize all of the toys in to categories. Make a list of all of these categories. Here’s Jennifer’s List (in case you need ideas)
Puzzles Board games Play food/house items cleaning equipment Stuffed animals Small characters Large characters Wooden blocks, Stacking toys Dinosaurs Cars and trucks Balls Imaginary play Musical instruments Books Art supplies Miscellaneous
- Donate as many toys as you can. ( do this when your young kids are not around) At about age 5 you can start getting your kids involved with the process of donating. Young kids often don’t understand the purpose. If your kids have shown no interest and there is no significant sentimental value then donate. Especially stuffed animals. Children typically don’t play with all of the stuffed animals they are given. Plus stuffed animals are bad for allergies.
- Store about 75% of your toys. But keep them in their categories (Jennifer is moving colored shelving in to closet and storing toys in categories in that shelving. I store mine in small canvas bins and containers in my attic. Here’s a picture of my system. Nothing fancy but all of these toys are easily accessible.
- Move any large toys in to the closet for storage as well. This doesn’t mean you can’t pull them out every other day etc. Everything under the window needs to be stored. Leave out the woodworking table. Mater over there in the corner needs to go in to the closet. Whatever is not being used under that blue table needs to be stored as well.
- Take all your pictures, wall decor and wall organizer down and patch holes.
- remove any decor, we’ll work that back in later
- Relocate brown glider to another room.
- Prepare picture labels for each toy category.
- Put away everything on your bedside table. Assuming Jennifer is changing diapers on the bed and using the table for materials I’ll ask that she store Diaper changing materials either in a basket on top of the table or inside. Put the rest of the stuff in a new home.
- If there’s room turn the bed to face the doorway. Rooms are more inviting when the bed faces the door that you enter from.
Join us next week to see how Jennifer’s Playroom/Guest room has progressed.
Tell us what organizing tips work for you! What are you doing to calm the chaos with your kids rooms?