Playroom Chaos? 5 Steps To Turn Frustration Into Fun!
Do you have a playroom in your house? Do you have a designated area set up in another room and call it your playroom? Either way, toys tend to grow legs and walk all over the house, taking over all other areas, making it almost impossible to navigate, and difficult to play games and have fun. Playrooms are supposed to be designed to, well, play in. So, what happens when your playroom becomes a disaster area? No one plays in there anymore because they can’t find anything they want to play with! Can you cook in a chaotic kitchen? No. Your children can’t play in a chaotic playroom, either. How do you tame the mess? Let’s see what we can do to organize the toys and get your kids to follow the plan.
Step 1) Reduce the sheer volume by culling the unwanted toys. Your biggest problem may simply be the number of toys you have in your playroom. When was the last time you actually looked at the toys you were putting away? Like most parents, you probably have just enough time to throw those toys back in the playroom without really paying attention to what it is you just picked up off the dining room floor. Was that a piece of a game that you know was thrown out years ago? How does that keep finding its way out of the playroom?
Start by labeling boxes with “Throw Away”, “Give Away”, and “Keep.” This is a pretty simple method once you get started. Look through all the toys and quickly decide which box they belong in. The reason I say “quickly” decide is that we all tend to analyze during this process just a bit too much. That is why the job doesn’t get done. So, quickly, is it broken? Throw it out. Is it something no one plays with anymore? Give it away. Is it still played with? Keep it. Is it something you want for a keepsake? Keep it.
Now you have the toys that you want to keep in one box. Pull the keepsake items out and set them aside to store outside the playroom. The other two boxes tell you what you need to do. Put the “Give Away” box in your car to take to the thrift shop, and take the unusable toys, the ones in the “Throw Away” box, and throw them away.
Step 2) Sort and store toys by type. You need to get an idea of what kind of toys you have to store before you can decide on the best storage strategy. If you have an abundance of books, you’ll need actual bookcases. If you have board games, they may need a deeper cabinet. Video games and movies require a specific style of storage. Baby dolls and their clothing may require some pretty boxes, bins, or little dressers. If you have a lot of dress-up clothes you may want a place to hang them.
Don’t forget to match the storage solutions to your kids’ ages and abilities. Having plastic containers with hard to open lids won’t help you in the long run. You’ll need to have containers that are easily accessible in order to have any hope of having your kids help put things away. Open containers may be your best bet, especially with younger children. Clear plastic containers are great because kids can see what’s in the bin, possibly averting everything getting dumped out on the floor in frustration.
Stuffed animals pose a definite challenge. After you’ve eliminated what you don’t want, you will no doubt be left with a multitude of critters. There are a few options for corralling your herd of stuffed animals. You’ll find velcro poles to stick your stuffed animals on, hammocks to swing them in above your heads if you’d like, along with some other inventive ideas. You could also very simply install narrow shelves high along the ceiling and set the stuffed animals that don’t get played with on the shelf for display.
Look around the other rooms in your house to see if there are any tables, bookshelves, bins, boxes, dressers, or other storage units that you can use before you run out and buy new. When you drop off those toys at the thrift shop, check out their storage items for sale to see if there might not be something you could use.
Step 3) Rotate your toys in and out of the playroom. Once you get your toy storage figured out, you’ll most likely notice that not everything fits on the shelves or in the bins. That’s okay. Now you have a pile of toys to put away somewhere else and can swap those out once in awhile with the toys already in the playroom. This is a good way to keep the toys interesting, and if you’re lucky, your children will have forgotten the stored toys and it will seem like brand new toys have arrived!
Step 4) Enlist your children’s help. Fundamental in this step is clearly labeling every storage spot. If kids get frustrated because they don’t know where to put a toy, they’ll just let it drop. Borrow a page from the teacher’s handbook – label everything. Depending on the ages of the children, you will either write or draw the item that goes in the bin or on the shelf. You can cut pictures from magazines, or, better yet, have your children draw pictures of the toys. Won’t they be proud when they pick up the toys and put them in bins labeled with their personal drawings?
Step 5) Maintain the system. The biggest hurdle to keeping the playroom under control is the daily upkeep. This will take some time and oversight. Start by teaching your children that one game or toy comes out at a time. When you see your kids get up from playing with a toy and head for the shelf to pull down another, you will have to step in and turn them around. Show them that the other toy is not yet in its place. Try this for awhile, but if it continues, then you will have to reduce the amount of toys in the playroom. This whole project will take some adjustments and some time. Once your kids are consistently putting away their toys, you can start bringing out the toys you put away, a few at a time. They’ll learn, with time.
This is not an easy job, but one well worth diving into. The playroom is not only an area of the house in which your children can play, it’s YOUR haven, too! When your kids are happily occupied with toys and games, safely tucked away in the playroom, you are happily occupied with your own projects in peace and quiet. See what I mean? This is one task that benefits the whole family!
We are always looking for ways to keep our children happy and occupied, while still maintaining an organized home. It is possible to play hard without creating chaos at the same time. Check back with us the next time you’re looking for ways to organize your home… and your life. We’re just full of ideas!