Organization tips for your child's play area
The calls from parents who want me to work with their children to help organize toys in the play room are frequent. They are generally heading to the toy store to buy more toys, but the kids can't see the floor in the play room now.
Here's what I have learned from the little ones. They need space, they need less and they need to play with toys in an integrated way.
Large toy woes
Pre-made playhouses, large play kitchens and teepees can fill a room. Kids can get the same afternoon of fun with a table, blankets, sofa cushions and clothespins. All of these items are easily folded and returned to their original places after the fun.
These ordinary household items help teach construction principles and are even more fun when you add an adult crouching inside with them. Add a flashlight, some books and a snack for a great afternoon of fun.
Kid-sized cars can fill your garage and send the real family car out in the cold. Giant stuffed animals occupy as much space as a bookshelf or toy bin, which can hold more hours of fun than one massive, overstuffed gorilla.
Less is more
Lots of toys can be overwhelming for children. Many of parents feel helpless against the tide of toys given by well-meaning grandparents, aunts and uncles for birthdays and holidays. Better gift suggestions for these generous folks are family memberships to children museums and zoos, tickets to sports events and shows or a small toy and an investment towards education or study abroad programs in high school.
Avoid the box of naked Barbies. The maximum number of Barbies in your home is the number of children times two (one for each hand).
Stuffed animals are adorable but can overrun a playroom or bedroom. Introduce the concept of "enough." Select a bin size and when the bin is full, you have enough.
The bottom line is that kids can be overwhelmed by too much stuff and not value what they have. It’s basic supply and demand – when there’s too much, the value goes down.
Kids need enough space for each child to lay on the floor and make a snow angel. Want even more fun? Lie down and make the snow angel space with them.
Toy boxes, bins and totes are all good. Make sure they are large enough to hold the amount of toys in a particular category. Shelves use vertical space well, but should be anchored to the wall to prevent tipping.
Legos are great toys for following directions and creativity. However, those tiny pieces can be quite painful to step on. Great containers are available to store them in – cardboard boxes can fall apart, making plastic bins much better in the long run. Get the appropriate size for the volume of pieces as soon as possible and know when you have enough.
Mixed toy bins are not bad. Children play with toys in integrated ways. Reading to stuffed animals, Lego creations for action figures to use, Barbies hanging out with other dolls and pets – these are wonderful things and great for imagination.
Kindergarten works this way. Each kind of toy has its area – pretend and dress up, building, games, books, music, cars and trains, action figures and more. Cut pictures from toy ads or print them and use shipping tape to attach the label to the container. Label with pictures and words for smaller kids.
Bless others. If you have too many gifts or toys, donate.
Don’t put it down – put it away. Creating homes for each category of toy to go to at the end of the day helps the clean up process.
The most important part of keeping a toy room clear is making clean up part of each play session. Use examples such as cleaning the kitchen after the meal is over to show why clean up is important.
About this Angie's List Expert: Melanie Dennis is the owner of Neat Streak, providing professional organizing services in Columbus, Ohio. Since 2004, Neat Streak has been providing residential organizing across Central Ohio and received the 2012 Angie’s List Super Service Award. Dennis is a Board Certified Professional Organizer and a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers.
As of July 3, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.