Playroom Organization: Step-by-Step Guide to an Organized Playroom
Playrooms have been a frequent project and topic for The Lighter Home as of lately. Perhaps it’s the holiday season where everyone is feeling the need to purge before the next big wave of gifts. What a wonderful thought! Or, perhaps it’s being indoors more and feeling like toys and crafts are taking over your home. In either case, the winter is a great time to assess the use and contents within your playroom.
Since the thought of cleaning out your playroom may feel somewhat daunting, I’ve created a step-by-step guide to make it more manageable and ultimately rewarding. Follow along! And if you just can’t handle it, drop me a note and I’ll get you situated.
1. Assess the playroom's use: Start by asking the broad question — do my kids play in the playroom?
If the answer is YES: Take stock of what they most like to play with and where they play in the room. This will give you a sense of the areas you need to focus on organizing, and perhaps the items you need to pitch or convert. For instance, some families are starting to outgrow imaginary play and are more into crafting. If that’s the case, then consider removing the play kitchen and adding a bigger art table.
If the answer is NO: Dig deeper as to why. As mentioned above, maybe their interests are changing. Or, perhaps there’s just too many toys where they don’t have a space to play — is a cue it’s time for less stuff and/or systems. Observe your kids quietly and then talk to them, you’ll get the answers you need to move forward.
2. Make a list of most popular play activities: Once you’ve done some discovery, make a list of activities that your kids most enjoy within the space. In my own experience, I thought it was time to get rid of the play kitchen, but my daughter told me otherwise. So, we now have 3 key activities for our space: crafts, imaginary play, and movies/games.
3. Sketch it out: Based on your list of activities, think about how to use your playroom space to foster that type of play. Take a piece of paper and a pencil and do a quick sketch of the layout — nothing fancy or time-consuming. Start with sketching the floor plan as if nothing was in it. And then add in furniture. Label potential spots where play could happen. I personally like to dedicate a pocket of space to each child. I’ve often noticed that with siblings, each child has a slightly different interest and enjoys some alone time. I try to carve out a spot for that child to have individual play, and then also designate a shared space. The sketch here for a client is a little fancier (this is my job!), but paper and pencil will do just fine for you.
4. Purge: Now that you know what your kids like to play, begin the purge. Remove any toys that they no longer play with or are broken. Whatever toys are gently used, consider passing forward to a family member (who wants it!), a pre-school or school (who needs it!) or to a donation center. In the Boston area, Cradles to Crayons and the Epilepsy Foundation accept toys. Also, if you have non-kid items in the play space, find a new space for those. Whether it be pantry items, old college text books or other items, I recommend not mixing them together. Keep it purely kids stuff — this space is dedicated to your kiddos!
Bonus tip: Be sure to use a dark plastic bag and get it out of your home quickly to avoid these items returning back!
5. Sort: Once the purge is complete sort toys based on use. For example, put all of the small plastic figurines together (think LOL dolls, Hatchimals, etc), Nerf guns together, dolls together, Legos together and so on. By the way, Legos are their own little world unto themselves. Check out The Lighter Home’s blog post “How to Win at Organizing LEGOs” for an in-depth approach to organizing those plastic ninjas.
6. Create a system: Bin and label accordingly. Labels are SO important because they allow kids know where to find and return their toys. If your child can’t read yet, take a picture of the toy and tape or clip it to the bin. Once binned, put all like toys near where the child will play. For instance, if you have a play kitchen, make sure all of the kitchen tools and dress up are within range of the kitchen. These days, my favorite bins are the Room Essentials Y-Weave Bins from Target. Priced at $2 to $8 these bins are affordable and come in multiple sizes and colors.
7. Contain your sanity — enclose the play space and toys: If there’s a way to contain your playroom — do it. Shut the door, draw a curtain, or simply put the messy stuff in drawers or bins. Back to the curtain, if you have an open closet with no doors — consider adding a curtain rod and curtain so that you don’t have to look at it all of the time.
8. Reset ground rules: When it’s all done, work with your kids to reset ground rules. That starts by reintroducing them to the space and how it works. And resetting your expectations for clean up. My husband and I did this over the weekend, and so far, so good.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a breath and take a pass at this list! And if you’re still feeling stressed, give me a buzz! Good luck and happy holidays! Michelle firstname.lastname@example.org