Here are some tips on organizing a playroom from our organizing professionals. These come from success in their own homes as well as their clients’ homes! Depending on the age of your kids, you can decide to do this with or without them. Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin: kids actually play better when they have fewer things to play with! Seem counterintuitive? Research shows that the more decisions you have to make, the less energy you have for doing other things. Simplifying choices and reducing distractions allows children to play with what they have for longer periods of time with more focus and creativity. As an added bonus, putting things away becomes less of a hassle, so clean-up time doesn’t have to be a battle.
Ready to start?
Before you begin, grab containers to sort into and a trash bag. You will need, at minimum, a container for donations and one for things that need to be moved to other parts of the house. As with any organizing project, it is helpful to have a clear floor and ample room for sorting, such as a bed, couch, or table.
Time to begin your sort and let some toys go!
Take all the toys and items in the playroom out of drawers, bins, cupboards and wherever else you find them. Sort them into categories. This can be by type of toy, such as trucks, dolls, building blocks, coloring books etc. The sort can also be by how the toys are used, such as dress-up, games and puzzles, craft supplies, and so forth. Once all the toys are sorted, go through each pile. You will find some obvious keepers:
- Items your kids play with all the time
- Toys they are growing into soon
- Multi-purpose toys
- Sentimental items
However, you will also probably find things that are no longer needed:
- Toys that are broken, damaged, or missing pieces
- Things that your kids have outgrown
- Items that make annoying sounds.
Things that you no longer want to keep can be thrown away, recycled, donated, or sold, depending on the item and its condition.
Find every item a home.
Next, decide where each item that you are keeping will live. Everything that stays in the playroom must have a place. No exceptions. Every toy and craft item needs to have a home. Plastic bins with lids are an easy solution. Each bin should hold one category. All the items for that category need to fit into that bin. You can use an assortment of sizes to accommodate toys of different sizes: Sterilite 6qt, Sterilite 16qt, Sterilite 56qt.
If you have toys that are sentimental but no longer played with, recognize that they have stopped being toys and have become keepsakes. They no longer belong in the playroom. Bin them up and store them in an out-of-the-way location.
For those items that do not store well in bins, designate a spot on a shelf or give them a basket. A good example of this are American Girl dolls. Give these dolls a shelf dedicated just for them and then store all of their accessories in a bin. The same goes for all the things that come in their own, randomly-sized boxes such as science experiments, craft kits, games, and puzzles. Stack these items on a shelf by category.
Ultimately, we want our kids to be able to clean up their playroom on their own. With this in mind, it is important to keep things simple when organizing a playroom—fewer categories, easy to use containers, and labels are key. You want to think in terms of what your kids are able to maintain and do on their own so that they can put all their toys away.
A couple more toy organization tips…
We clearly label the bins and shelves when we are organizing a playroom. This works best once children can read, but for the preschool crowd, you can print pictures and attach them to the bins using clear packing tape. This helps kids remember where to put toys away.
Those randomly sized boxes of science experiments and craft kits, games and puzzles, can be great entertainment on a rainy day. To limit access to some of these items for special occasions, put them on a shelf that is out of arm’s reach. This provides more entertainment, spreading out their “newness” by not having them always readily available.
Consider establishing a toy rotation system for other excess items as well. Put the extra toys in bins that can be stored elsewhere like an out-of-the-way closet, attic, basement, or upper shelves. Every month or so gather up the things that are losing their appeal and replace them with toys from the rotation bins. With fewer items in play at any given time, kids enjoy what they have more. The periodic rotation adds variety without adding to the overwhelm.
An organized playroom takes maintenance.
Daily: Help children learn the routine of putting toys away at the end of the day. You have done so much already to help them with this by getting rid of the excess. Putting toys away is so much easier for kids once all the items have a home and their homes are clearly labeled.
Weekly: Check in on the playroom, run the vacuum, and troubleshoot if any systems are not working as expected. It may be that the categories are too specific, the containers too heavy or hard to use, or there may still be too many toys available at one time. Adjust the system as needed, getting the kids’ input when possible. They are more likely to use a system they helped create!
Monthly: Evaluate the current toy selection. Remove things that have gotten worn out or have fallen out of favor. Replace these toys with a selection of items from the toy rotation bins.
Annually/Biannually: Ask kids to make room for gifts from holidays and special occasions by selecting things they want to donate to a good cause, pass on to a friend or cousin, or sell to save up for a wanted item.
Are you getting ready to organize a playroom? Share your photos with us in our Abundance Declutter Group on Facebook. We love seeing your projects!