- Your playroom is so cluttered that there's no room for actual playing. Your kids end up taking games and toys to other rooms to use them, spreading the clutter as they go.
- Your playroom is a "Danger Zone." You can't enter in your bare feet for fear of stray (and sharp) matchbox cars, LEGOS or doll accessories; and the last time you pulled Chutes and Ladders off the shelf, five other games came down on your head along with it.
- You frequently find yourself comforting a tearful child who has just discovered that a favorite toy is broken or has been crushed in the clutter of the playroom.
There's hope. Take one afternoon and eliminate clutter in your playroom. Get the kids involved, and teach them how to control clutter as well. It's a valuable lesson with life-long implications.
The Sorting Game
Many games for young children involve the concept of sorting and putting like items together. Apply this same technique to the clutter in your playroom. Start by sorting everything into the following categories:
- Games and puzzles
- Cars, trucks and trains
- Dolls and doll accessories
- Arts and crafts supplies (coloring books, crayons, markers, paint, paper, etc.)
- Make-believe centers (miniature kitchens, work benches, basketball hoops, etc.)
Reduce and Rotate
Now that you have a clear picture of everything in your playroom, reduce it by half:
- Label five bins with each category above (except the make-believe centers).
- Review all of the items in each category and select at least half of them to be put in storage. Place those items in the appropriate bins.
- Store the bins elsewhere - garage, basement or closet.
- Periodically rotate these stored items with those you've left in the playroom. The key word here is rotate. If you add something to the play room, you must put something else back in storage.
- Limit the make-believe centers to two or three. If you have additional items, put them in storage as well and rotate periodically.
Keep an eye out for toys that your child has outgrown or no longer uses. Consider donating these items and remove them completely from both your playroom and your home.
Evaluate the layout of your playroom and divide it into three or four zones as follows:
- The book, game and puzzle zone
- The doll zone
- The planes, trains and automobile zone
- The arts and crafts zone
Bins, Baskets and Book Shelves
Each zone should have some type of shelving unit to store the toys remaining in the playroom. You can find inexpensive plastic or wooden shelves at Target, Walmart or even your local Dollar Store. While there, look for bins or baskets that fit on the shelves.
The Picture-Perfect Plan
Cut out pictures of each toy or item that is staying in the playroom, and tape them to the front of the appropriate bin or basket. Every item in the playroom shoud be in a specific spot in one of the zones. The pictures will help children who can't read yet identifiy where items belong. Now, your children can help keep the playroom neat, organized and free of clutter.
The key to eliminating clutter in the playroom is to stay on top of it on a daily basis. Make cleaning up the playroom a game.
At the end of each day, set a timer for five minutes. Help your children put everything they've been playing with back in the appropriate place. As they get older, have them do it themselves while you supervise.
Once your children no longer need a playroom, the habits you've helped them establish will carry over to their bedrooms and ultimately to their homes.