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Organizing a Child’s Play Area

by Mikkee Hall

home

August 13, 2014

Organizing a Child’s Play Area

 

As a child, I remember forever rummaging around in a huge toy chest attempting to find the one Barbie shoe I was missing. The shoe was usually at the bottom of the chest. Consequently, the room was strewn with the contents of the toy chest. Neither my mom nor I liked the result of finding one small toy.

Organizing a space can feel daunting, especially a child’s play area. Don’t worry, darling, we have you covered with six steps to creating a space for the kids to make both mom and child happy - and get you set for the new school year.

Step 1: Evaluate the space and what you need

The key to efficient organizing is knowing what you need before you get started. Think about the space you are working to create. Is it a separate play room or a part of the bedroom? Do you need shelving, baskets or other supplies? Take measurements and get all of your supplies ahead of time. 

Step 2: Occupy the kiddos

This is key to successful organizing! It is hard to accomplish a task when breaking up fights and making snacks every ten minutes. Consider the age of your children. Usually over the age of four or five, kids can be a part of the organizing process with specific tasks and directions (sorting trains or puzzle pieces).

If you have babies or toddlers or simply want to do it on your own, find a time where you won’t be constantly interrupted. A new movie (or even 2 or 3 in a row, let’s just be honest) or new toy can go a long way to giving you focused time while the kids are engaged with something. Putting a baby or toddler in a high chair with an activity also keeps them safe and occupied.

Step 3: Just do it

Organizing is a lot like exercising. You have to just do it. There are always plenty of excuses. Once you start, you have done the hardest part. So jump into the mess and just do it!

Step 4: Take it in chunks

Walking into a mess is overwhelming. Divide it into less overwhelming steps. Start off with cleaning up any trash. Move onto picking up anything that doesn’t belong in the room and placing it out in the hallway to put away later. Next focus on cleaning and organizing one set of toys at a time (e.g. puzzles or dolls). 

Step 5: Organize for the kids

Think about what your kids love to play with the most and make sure it is accessible for them. Put their favorite books on their eye level. Put their basket of trains where it won’t be hard for them to reach. Consider creative ideas and baskets for stuffed animals and dolls. The key to successful organization is creating a space that makes sense for your kids. Put things in places that are easy to get to, and organize them in a way that it is easy for your kids to repeat when it comes to pick-up time. 

Consider rotating out toys every few months. It will feel like Christmas because kids get bored just like we do.

Check out this list of 41 Clever Organizational Ideas for your Child’s Playroom over on Buzzfeed. 

Step 6: Create family rules on clean up

Even the youngest of children can help keep a space somewhat tidy with supervision. The time you spent organizing won’t make a difference, if it’s not maintained. Decide what matters to you and talk to your children about their responsibility in helping taking care of their space and things. 


 

 

 
What do you do to keep your kid’s play space organized?

Related topics: tips, play, organization, mom

Share your thoughts

I love the honesty in this article (put in a movie or two or three in a row). It's true I your doing a mass overhaul then it's going to take sometime to get things organized. I try not to delay purges, I plan them with growth spurts. I figure if they've outgrown their clothes then they've bound to outgrown some toys too. This way everything gets donated at the same time. My girls are 4 and 6 and generally participate in the process. They are mature enough to help, it's their stuff and it teaches them gratitude. Giving to those who need because we have an abundance to give!

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Anyone have tips for a multi-age playroom? We don't actually have a playroom, so we use our dining room as one. We have a one year old and a four year old and although I would love to become a minimalist in a pack eat by nature so...we have the baby toys out for the one year old and "older toys" out for our four year old....sooooooo much stuff!!!:/ I'd love ideas for a playroom design with an age gap in mind. :)

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Before pulling something new out to play with, they must first put back what they were playing with. That way only 1 group of items are out at a time.

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I love the Trofast toy storage from ikea! I have a larger one and a smaller one. I am almost to the point of getting rid of toys that don't fit.

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Step 1: Evaluate the space and what you need, for sure! We have walls and spaces that we could really use some racks, hooks, and more.

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I love a visit to the Container Store or that section in any store... It's addictive!

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Don't be afraid to reevaluate your systems! Give yourself time to adjust to a new organization system or cleaning schedule, but if something really isn't working, don't be afraid to fix it!

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Good advice, Andrea!

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We use bins and baskets from the dollar store!

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Brilliant! We buy a lot of plastic bugs and snakes and craft supplies there, but I haven't gone looking for organizational supplies - good thinking, Tara.

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We use bins, toy storage racks, baskets, etc. We periodically clean out old toys, throw away or fix the broken ones and donate some. My kids know to clean up after they're done playing and put things back where they belong.

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Amanda - tell us your secret to getting the kids to pick up without begging or bribing!

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We use the plastic dressers for toys

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I've got some great storage from IKEA, but I don't have enough cute little baskets to fill up the shelves. Maybe a plastic dresser would help.

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We have bins for everything and the kids know where each toy goes. It would help if I labeled them but I haven't done it yet.

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Shelli I just have to say - bins are 3/4 of the battle!! Just because Pinterest has amazing label ideas doesn't mean the Label People are better organized. You've got bins - you go girl!

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ask for help if necessary. this is so not my forte!

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Jenna I'm right there with you. In fact I've been begging a good friend to come visit us in our new home state to help us reign in the chaos! *Hint Hint, Mikkee*

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Absoutely, Jenna! No doubt you have a friend who thrives to organize!

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I kinda wanna drop everything and start organizing RIGHT NOW... Am I the only one?

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Brilliant tip I found on Pinterest: Use the outside cover of a bean bag chair (look at Target, Walmart or online) to hold all their stuffed animals!! They can sit on the bean bag and the stuffed animals don't take over your entire home. If you have a five year old daughter you know EXACTLY what I'm talking about!

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Such a fun idea!

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Love this post! We just moved and we need all the organizational help we can get in our new, smaller home. Thanks Mikkee!

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Step 7: Give yourself some grace. It is okay if not every toy has a home out of sight at the end to the day. We are all busy Mom's after all and our homes are going to reflect that.

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I love your 7th step, Maggie. So important!

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We need to do this for our sanity. I broke down and put all the toys in boxes up high, it's a little more work for me to get him a different box but at least I'm not pulling my hair out with the house filled with toys.

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Melissa, that is a good idea for when kiddos are small.

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Great tips!!! I have a play room that desperately needs to be organized!

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My kids are 4 and 5 and when we need to pare down, I ask them to choose a few toys (maybe the same number as their age) to donate for kids who don't have very many toys, then we bring them to Goodwill together.

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I love that idea, Liz! It is the 2 birds, 1 stone. You pare down and your kids learn generosity!!

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Good luck, Jennifer!

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I think picture labels or clear containers should be included somewhere, at least for the non-readers.

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Absolutely! Thank you for sharing.

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We have a tall bookshelf that is anchored to the wall in a play corner and then the toys are organized into bins with lids.

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Tiffany, thank you for mentioning anchoring a bookshelf. Kids like to scale things and that keeps it safe!

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Trip #2 to the emergency room with my not-quite-three year old son happened courtesy of an unanchored piece of furniture. He has a scar next to his right eye to remind us of that mistake. If you have furniture, they WILL attempt to climb it. Thank you for this VERY VERY important safety reminder.

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Putting picture labels on the containers of what will go in the container.

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That is perfect for the littles!

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I finally got a storage ottoman for the living room to hide toys, and it has a hinge lid so even my 15month old can help put away toys!

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I love products that are so multi-purpose and make our space still look nice!

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I'll try, I have all the right bins. I will reattempt, Bravely.

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Do you have a dress-up box? Next time I start organizing, I'm going to don the kids' super hero cape and go to town! Getting rid of stuff and organizing takes a lot of courage for me, too.

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Shannon, I find getting a friend in to help makes it more fun and you can offer to help your friend out in some way!

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It's just as soon as I get everything nice & organized my 2 year-old comes along & what took me a few hours has now been destroyed. Every time. That's life with my kids.

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I cycle through my ten month old ' s toys so that they are constantly "new" to her. I watch to see what she plays with, and when I notice her ignoring something consistently, I put it away for a while. This makes picking up super quick, and I don't have to constantly pick things up because she tossed them aside in boredom.

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Wonderful idea, Debbie.

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I am a huge fan of organizer bins. I have one in the upstairs playroom and one in our living room. This keeps my son occupied and clutter to a minimum.

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I like the idea of having one in two different areas.

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I make sure that everything has a "home" to make clean up easier. This helps when they can't find things too. Is it in its home? No? Sorry I can't help then cause you didn't put it back in its home. After awhile they catch on how important it is to put things back where they belong.

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Yes - I need to do this.

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Great idea, Callie!

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To be honest I have two toddlers so every time I get the living room (the only room to play in) organized they've gone into destruct mode again. However I try! We keep all the ball pit balls in the playpen (pinterest idea!) Then we have a chest to put the toys in that doubles as our coffee table. Inside I have a couple of bags for things like Mr. Potato Head and all his parts, the tea party set and dress up stuff. I make sure the puzzles are in put together and in a pile. The in front of our TV stand I keep the rocking horse, sit and spin and the Tonka Truck. The big thing for me is to pick up while they are napping and again after they go to bed so I don't feel like I'm constantly living in a disaster area!

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I remember those days. Mine are 4 and 5 now, and I can tell you there is HOPE! They are still messy, but at least they are capable of helping pick up the tornado zone that is our house at the end of every day.

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Nap and bedtime is how we do it in our house as well. It keeps from getting overwhelming (the mess OR sanity)!

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Clear bins so toys are easily seen!

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Excellent detail, Sarah!

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