Cleaning and organizing a playroom is not on the list of fun things to do at home, I know. But it doesn’t have to be a 3 wine glasses situation either. So, here are 10 easy tips for your playroom organization that will make it your kid’s most favorite room in the house. These ideas will help reclaim any “collaterally damaged” areas of your home and design an inviting space for play, learning, and creativity.
My playroom had become so overwhelmingly cluttered, my daughter and her friends didn’t want to play in there. The play space and toys had migrated out of the playroom and into the adjacent rooms. Those rooms being the dining room, kitchen and living room The very places I didn’t want toys to be. The very reason I turned the guest bedroom into a playroom. And to make matters worse. We were about to adopt a bunny. And if you don’t already know, Toy + More Toys +5 yr old + Bunny = Hot Mess/Catastrophe waiting to happen. Our daughter wanted a little brother or sister, we countered with a bunny. Enter…….Mr. Nibbles.
We were 3 days out from the bunny coming home, so it was important to do a “toy exorcism” and get the Playroom “pet ready”. While I respect my 5 yr old’s opinion, a back and forth argument, pouting and wailing about keeping broken toys she hadn’t touched in a year was not on the menu. I grabbed a large trash bag and started my search and seizure operation. I did this on my day off, while she was in school of course.
The Great Pre-organization Purge
I wanted this part to be as simple as possible, so I used the 4 container method. I brought in 4 large plastic totes and marked them as Trash, Donate, Storage and Keep/Put Away. Well, the Keep pile I was pretty confident about. The Donate and the Storage pile (for toy rotation) would take some kid-parent discussion. The Trash pile was only filled with things I was sure she could/would part with. I’m no fool, the “must go items” were already exiled into a trash bag she would never see. Now it was time to bring in “the help”.
Play a Sorting Game
I wanted my daughter to feel like she was a part of the decision-making process. So, I told her that to make the room “bunny safe,” we were going to organize it better. I explained the sorting game, categorizing like items, to her and we got to it. After 2 hours which included several bathroom breaks, snack breaks and walks down memory lane, finally, our sorting was complete. The plastic totes were overflowing and she triumphantly stood in the middle of it all, chest sticking out like she had conquered a tribe of unruly toys. I put the Trash items into the curbside trash can. The Donate items went immediately into the SUV so that nothing could accidentally fall out. Storage went up into the attic for rotation and Keep/Put Away would be the next step…
10 Playroom Organization Tips
Now that the dust had settled, the playroom organization begins. For me, this part was best done without my daughter’s little hands and crazy “little people” ideas getting in the way. This may sound weird for some, but organizing gets me high. I subscribe to the world of OCD. This was my groove. I rolled up my sleeves and got to fun!
- Design Activity Spaces – Evaluate the room’s layout and square footage. Take into consideration your kid(s) favorite activities and what they play with the most. Creating specific zones (Books, dolls, dress-up, Legos, arts and crafts, games, etc) where everything has a permanent home will also help with tidying up later.
- Keep Stuff Off Floor, but at kid height– Part of designing a space for learning, creativity, and fun is making sure that kids can reach all of their toys. Not having to get an adult to reach the things they want also encourages independence and self-reliance. Here are more tips on creating a Montessori-like play space.
- Keep It Open – Invest in kid-friendly open shelves without doors. Ikea, Target, and Walmart all have budget-friendly choices. Instead of storing boxed holiday items in the room’s closet, I moved them to the attic. I took the closet door off and installed 2 Mainstays 6 Cube Storage Organizer units in the closet. 12 x 3 ft of open shelves at kid level, in the closet, was a huge bonus and better use of that space! Also, for the toys with small pieces, I used colorful baskets and bins. So much additional space allowed me to avoid cramming and to have the box labels showing so that the items/games could clearly be seen.
- Go Verticle – Floating shelves or bookcases that are secured to the walls are good uses of verticle storage space. You can also use Chalkboard spray paint to create an art area, on the wall, that doesn’t take up any floor space. Another great idea I came across from My Life with Littles was to mount an oil drip pan to the wall for a magnetic board!
- Use Behind The Door Spaces – Let’s not forget the space behind the door. Admit it, the only time you look back there is when you’re assuring your child that “there is no Boogie Man in here”. But this is also prime real estate. Something as simple as a hanging shoe organizer with clear plastic pockets can corral a lot of small toys and their accessories.
- Use Multifunctional Furniture – Ottomans that double as lidded storage or benches with space underneath for baskets are great ideas. Playmats that protect your floors, define spaces and have colorful roadways that can be used with Legos and matchbox cars are a hit too.
- Display Artwork – Kids love seeing their projects and artwork displayed. Make use of the playroom wall space by getting them off the desks and creatively showing them off. As Atlanta Parent suggests: Keep their favorites, display it in a way that it becomes part of your family’s home decor and choose a method that allows you to change out the art often.
- Use Fun/Labeled Baskets and Bins – A very important task that could save you and the kids a lot of heartaches is to just label what’s not easily visible. For those kids that aren’t reading yet, a picture of the bin’s contents will work. Not only does this help find the toys, but it will help when its time to return them to their rightful places.
- Rotate Toys – Especially in the case of multiple kids, the toy collection can be overwhelming. If your kids still “love” everything but there just isn’t enough room. Store 1/4 of the toys in the attic and switch them out every 3 months. This keeps their options fresh and makes old toys seem like new again. This will also help out your wallet if the kiddos get bored with their toys. If the kids are no longer interested in the toy, then it’s time to Donate it.
- Pick-Up time – We added a “10-minute pickup” into our nightly routine. If there was play happening in the room that day then right before bath, pajamas, and brushing her teeth is pick up time. I set a 10-minute timer. And whatever isn’t picked up and put in its designated place by the bell gets placed into Storage. That means the item will not be seen until its time for toy rotation.
Don’t Expect Playroom Perfection
To some, money is the root of all evil. For me, it is expectations. Parents are not perfect and neither are our kids. A playroom that’s always clean and orderly is a fairy tale. However, a playroom that gets picked up every day is possible. And with designated home bases for all toys/games/activities and a good tidy up routine, playroom organization becomes easy-peasy. Also, remember, if it can’t be seen, it won’t be played with, so use the spaces wisely without cramming.
Our goal is to live and play free of chaos by practicing better organization and simplicity. In our house, we’ve recently started a rule that “if something comes in, then something goes out”, for Donation. This cuts down on excessive toys and clutter. I’d love to hear some of your playroom organization ideas and tips on how you stay tidy and sane. Share your stories by leaving your comments here. You can also keep up with our tribe on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.