Back in the day when I only had one child, all her toys were neatly put away inside cute baskets in her bedroom. When I had two kids, the amount of toys quadrupled. Now that we have three kids, we have a lot of toys and gear. I’d like to think my kids are really good about putting away their stuff—but who am I kidding!
At some point, we got rid of our formal dining room and turned it into a playroom. Keeping most of their stuff in one organized area works for us, in large part because the playroom is next to the kitchen, where I spend most of my time at home.
With three kids ages six and under, I’ve learned that a few simple things can improve the organization of the playroom.
- Activity Table • Having a place to color, play board games and make crafts can reduce the clutter on the floor or dining room table. Kids want to spread out their activities just as much as I want free kitchen counter space to cook in.
- Baskets & Cubbies • At school, my kids have their own cubby to put their stuff in. At home, I broke down and purchased a shelf with square cubbies and inexpensive storage bins to sort their toys. Toys are no longer put away in piles and stuffed in huge bins; instead, they are sorted in smaller baskets where everything is within reach.
- Play Rug • Kids will spend a lot of time on the floor building things and playing games. Having a soft pad for them to sit on will make it cozier and more fun. I love these carpet tiles because if one area gets ruined, I don’t have to worry about replacing an expensive rug or carpet.
- Art Wall • Why not display your child’s art on a wall instead of putting it away in some box? I love purchasing inexpensive 8×10 frames and switching out the art every few weeks. My kids feel special and I don’t have a stack of unwanted art lying around.
- Bean Bag Chairs • While an oversized couch or futon might seem like the most comfortable option, kids want a place to land when playing video games, reading books, and daydreaming. I love bean bags because they are sturdy enough for me to sit on yet plushy for my kids.
Read Related: How a Working Mother Organizes Household Chores
- A Place for Books • Whether you purchase shelves, book bins, or a bookrack; books need a place of their own. If you have more than one child, arrange them by age so it’s easier to find what you are looking for.
- A Hide-it-All Drawer • You need a drawer or a storage bucket with a lid that you can do a quick last minute “in-laws-are-coming” pick-up. I also call this the “work-in-progress” drawer because I use it to sort out our toys.
- Wall Hooks • I’d have all the dress-up purses, backpacks and coats on the floor if I didn’t have a set of wall hooks installed. Hang them within reach, about 4 ft. high, and your kids will be able to hang things on their own.
- Playroom Zones • I have a reading area, the art area, LEGO area, doll area and an open floor space. This way, not only do the kids have their own space, but toys are slightly less likely to get mixed.
Keeping the playroom organized is as much my kid’s responsibility as it is mine to teach them how to do it. Before dinnertime, I give them a five minute warning before they must put toys away on their own. My philosophy has always been that if they are old enough to take it out, they are old enough to put it away. Otherwise, while they are asleep, the garbage bag monster will pick up anything that is left out and they won’t see the items for a week. It turns out that monster is very persuasive!