After we covered why it’s important to organize a playroom and essentials every playroom needs, today we’ll tackle with the theme how to de-clutter your child’s existing playroom and turn it into a space child actually uses for play.
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If you’re going to organize a current playroom, you will need to start by reducing the clutter. Clutter can mean a lot of things:
- Broken toys
- Toys missing pieces
- Toys that are rarely or never used
- Visual clutter on the walls
- Extra furniture
Don’t worry if you have some of the things listed above. We are going to walk through the de-cluttering process in steps.
Step One: De-Clutter Toys
Start by finding a time when your child is out of the house or asleep to organize the toys. This is going to be one of the more time consuming parts of organizing your playroom. It is absolutely possible to do it in little parts, but I think it is easiest to pull everything out so you can see it all at once.
You are now surrounded by toys.
Now, sort your toys into groups. Legos in one spot. Cars and trucks in one spot. Anything dollhouse related in another spot. Puzzles in a pile. Etc.
As you sort, do two things to remove frustrations from your child’s play;
- Toss anything that is broken. Period.
- Set aside anything that has missing pieces or needs new batteries. Replace batteries in the toys you can. For toys missing pieces, I usually lean towards throwing these away as well, but if you want to wait and see if the pieces miraculously appear you can make a shelf or bucket for these in the closet. If you happen upon a random puzzle piece or wheel under the couch, toss it in the bucket. Mark a day on your calendar now to go through the bucket again.
When you are done, you are left with your toys organized in piles. Everything should be working and have all of its pieces.
Step Two: De-Clutter the Environment
Survey your space without the toys on shelves and ask yourself;
- Is there a lot of visual clutter on the walls? Sporadic posters? Bright colors?
- Are the walls lined with furniture?
- Is there open space?
To reduce clutter on the walls, consider neatly grouping items. Create a portion of the wall for displaying artwork. Keep a few posters at eye level and remove the rest. Creating a playroom involves a lot of personal preference, like decorating any room in your home, but keep in mind your child. Are the things on the wall for them? Are they at their eye level? Do they feature your child’s current interests?
If you have the storage space, consider rotating some of the furniture. You will certainly need at least one shelf, a rug, and a table. For toddlers and preschoolers, pretend play props like a kitchen area are fun. You do not, however, need every type of pretend play out all the time. If you have a kitchen, a workbench, a train table, large car garage, a tent, and light table: Put some of it away!
Step Three: Put Some Toys Away
Now that your space is less cluttered, let’s return our attention to the toys.
I talked extensively in this post about WHY you should rotate toys. The bottom line is that having fewer toys out will increase play. I know it doesn’t make much sense at first. Having more toys seems like a good thing. More options right? But there is such a thing as too many. In a playroom with too many toys children are overwhelmed.
- There is too much sensory input. Too much for their eyes to see and process.
- There are too many choices. Where to start?
- There is often not enough space to sit and play.
- There are toys with missing or broken pieces that you can’t actually use.
Children in this situation either run from thing to thing leaving toys in their wake or they do not engage with anything. Climbing on tables is often a fun alternative choice. Neither is ideal.
Further more, putting some of the toys away and rotating them out occasionally allows you to re-spark interest in an older toy that is now new again. This also increases happy playing.
Start by neatly placing your child’s favorite toys on the shelves. Make a spot for each in a basket, bucket or shelf. The toys should be well spaced to avoid clutter. When in doubt, start with what feels like too few toys. You can always put some more out.
Next, add some more toys that round out play options. If your child adores trains and their play barn, put some of those out, but also put out some puzzles, pretend play clothes, books, and creative materials.
Put what is left on the floor in clear tubs or bags. You can read more about how to start a Toy Rotation System.
Lastly, look around and admire the calm, clutter free space you have just created.
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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.