As I mentioned in the previous post, all good organization requires some maintenance. We all get busy. We throw things on a shelf and plan to put them away where they belong later. We put everything in one basket or bag because we don’t have time to sort them out. We don’t have time to make sure a puzzle has all the pieces so we put it in the closet and hope for the best. Sound familiar?
Is your house taken over with toys?
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In our house, every few months I start to feel our toy closet getting out of control. I can usually tell because the once clear floor is now covered with baskets of toys that I meant to organize and put away. It would be nice if we could just carefully and perfectly put everything away every time but let’s be honest, we are busy parents. We are not perfect. Life with kids is a whirlwind so things get messy.
So how do you maintain playroom organization?
Clean up every day.
Start by having your children clean up their space every day. This is crucial. We sometimes allow them to save a block tower or something they are working on, but in general everything they use should get put back where it belongs every day. You might have to be a little hard on them and make them re-sort a basket of toys a couple times for them to get the hang of this, but I promise you – even older toddlers can clean up a playroom.
Go through toys when you rotate.
This is the part that gets me. When you are rotating toys, don’t just throw them in the closet. Chances are your child threw some Duplos in with the Magna-tiles or a fire engine is mixed in the with trains. Multiply that by 365 days and you get the chaos you started with before this whole playroom organizing adventure began. I try to go through each basket and pull out the parts that don’t fit or anything that got broken before I pour them in their gallon Ziploc bag to store. Of course, when I don’t have time I just put the basket on the floor and that is how I end up with the closet mess. Eventually I set aside a nap time or hour on a Saturday to fix my own mess.
Rotate Toys and Furniture
We make our playrooms look pretty for our kids and then we want to walk away. Chances are your first attempt is not going to be perfect. Once you use a space you always see things a little differently than you imagined it in your head. Even if you luck out and it works great, there will be things that need to be changed as time passes and your child grows. You will need to regularly rotate toys. Every 2-4 weeks would be my best estimate. You will also likely need to change around your space. Maybe they need more floor space when they become fascinated with trains or enormous floor puzzles. Maybe they need hooks for dress up clothes or that tent that seemed amazing is just a daily argument waiting to happen so it needs to get put away for a while. I’m assuming you did a fantastic job setting up your space here, but trust me – you will need to continue to make small tweeks.
Think of your playroom like any other room of your house. Just as the kitchen counters need to get re-wiped and the carpet needs to get re-vacuumed, the playroom will also continue to require maintenance. This isn’t really a bad thing. I know it’s work, but I think the playroom work is kind of fun.
Maintaining a playroom is all about watching your kids. You get to watch how they use the space and the toys and make small changes to support their needs. Sometimes it is hard to just sit back and watch. It gets easier with practice. We feel like we should be interacting more or teaching more, but often times an adult’s most important job is to observe. When we watch carefully and really pay attention to our children, we notice little things and those little things can make all the difference.
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Erin Buhr has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and works as a freelance writer and early childhood educator. She currently lives in Mississippi with husband and twin four year olds. You can read more by Erin on her blog, Bambini Travel, where she writes about family travel, children’s books, and preschool activities.