Ever feel like that a hurricane has taken over your kid’s room or playroom? For our kids, play time seems to mean time to make a mess. Kids rooms and playrooms can become a mess without proper organization. Keeping a functional play space can be a valuable part of play time too, while also providing sanity for the parents. Plus, teaching kids to be a part of organizing their spaces is a skill that can benefit them for a lifetime. Here are some simple tips that you can put into action immediately to get organized and stay that way.
1. Make your strategy child-friendly
When you plan your organization strategy, be sure to make it child friendly. Consider sticking to easy to operate, low to the ground storage solutions that fit the needs of the specific child’s age. Put yourself at the level of the child and be sure all of your organization solutions are accessible to little hands and at their eye level. Remove closet doors and hard to open containers or drawers to avoid any obstacles, pinched fingers or frustration attached to play time.
2. Play in the zone
Establishing play zones means having a specific place in your playroom for each activity. Some examples of zones are an art table, dress up space, reading nook and play kitchen area. This helps the child know exactly which zone to use for specific activities and where to put the toys back when they are finished playing. If your child has a favorite book, one zone can be a recreation of a scene from that book such as this one from The Little Red Riding Hood . Encouraged play based learning at home with zones geared specifically to your child’s curiosities and interests.
3. In with the new, out with the old
When a child gets a new toy, one of the old ones has to go. It keeps the toy count to a minimum and teaches the child the value of decision-making and efficiency. Teaching a child this strategy at an early age will serve them well as they grow and accumulate more and more stuff. This theory is supported here. Giving the child an amount of toys that they can easily handle and keep organized helps them to make the most of all that they have available and lets parents and kids feel in control of their belongings. Feeling overwhelmed with the amount of toys a child has takes the fun out of play time.
4. Picture this
Labeling storage containers with pictures instead of words at this age is a great idea. If your kids are too young to read just use pictures they can identify. If you have pre-reading kids, use clip art to include a picture and add simple, beginning reading words to encourage learning the word. If your child will be learning a second language this is a great opportunity to include those words as well.
5. Under the bed
Everyone knows under the bed is a great place for a storage spot, but often the space becomes a disorganized mess full of storage bins and dust bunnies. Designer and blogger Jenna Burger made her own underbed storage carts with wheels to solve this dilemma. Now, items are organized and easily accessible.
6. Create your own play table
If you're replacing your old coffee table or another piece of furniture, instead of throwing it away try transforming it into a play table, storage solution or doll house/play center or Lego organizer for your kids.
7. Create a Family Command Center
This is a central location for the family calendar, artwork brought home (EVERYDAY) and a hook and bin for each child to place their backpack and other items brought home with them after school. Learning to organize toys, school supplies and everyday items from an early age instills positive habits for a lifetime.
8. Set up a teepee for imaginary play
Use an adorable kid’s teepee for endless imaginary play and then use it to store pillows and blankets when it’s not being used.
9. Playtime in the collapsible teepee
No room for a play structure such as a play house or tent? Set up a collapsible teepee for an extra play space and then collapse it into practically nothing when playtime is done. Most will fit easily under a couch or bed or neatly in the corner of a closet and will not overtake a smaller play space.
10. Find new purpose for shoe organizers
Shoe organizers are not just for shoes! Try putting your favorite collection of stuffed animals, dolls or art supplies. Hanging these organizers over a door saves precious real estate in your play space and makes your door visually interesting.
Keeping an organized play space teaches valuable lessons to children about staying organized and being responsible. The skills they learn and the pride they will feel from being organized will translate to many other parts of their life and begin the process of building good habits. And, the kids may just be able to come up with their own innovative storage solutions in the process. Ask for their input and let them try their own techniques. You never know, they may be able to come up with their own list of fun, creative and actionable solutions of their own!