You dream of a tidy playroom, but it seems like an oxymoron. Instead, what you always end up having is a room filled with an explosion of Legos, Magna-tiles, Barbies, and what seems like hundreds of stuffed animals. And you’re not even sure how it happened! Maybe Batman is supposed to drive that pink Barbie convertible to save Mr. Potato Head from losing a wiggly arm to that mean ol’ dinosaur. Who are you to judge?!
If this sounds even remotely familiar to you, then hear me on this. You are not alone. As a Professional Organizer, I see this more often than you would imagine. I often get asked by my clients how to help organize AND keep the room tidy after I leave. Sounds like no short order, right? Well, yes and no. Kids will be kids. Let’s dive into my tips and tricks on how to get your playroom set up, to begin with. As they say, a good foundation is everything. Then, we’ll dive into how to help keep it that way. Sound impossible? It’s not!
How to Get (and Keep) a Tidy Playroom
First, think about your room size.
Is your playroom right off the front door when you walk in with only a few walls to contain everything? Or, upstairs maybe in an open-spaced bonus room? The room’s size is where we need to start to decide how many zones/stations we can make in the space.
Now, let’s start thinking in terms of zones.
What are your kid(s) into that they’ll play with over and over? For example, art station, dress up, lego table, dollhouse, ALL the stuffed animals. Whatever they love to do and play with the most should become a station.
Also, make sure you take your kid(s) ages into account. The room will need to be set up differently for a toddler than a late elementary school kid. If you want your playroom to stay tidy, little hands will need to be able to access everything!
Invest in systems that create the stations.
Once you have an idea of those zones, then let’s shift our attention to what in the world you’ll need to buy (or repurpose!) to make these happen. Take the dress-up area, for example. Get a floating mount with 3-4 hooks, attach it to the wall – and boom, you have a dedicated dress up zone any kid would love. Dress up outfits go on their hangers, and they always go back there because it’s where they live, darn it!
Cube systems are also fantastic because you can typically stack two containers on top of each other within one square. I’m all about helping you maximize every inch of space here. While we’re at it, clear bins or containers are where it’s at with kids. As adults, we always want things hidden away or behind a beautiful looking container. With kids, though, it’s all about being able to see what they can at a glance. That is why they play with the same two toys after all, even though they have hundreds of others in the same room just sitting there day after day begging to be played with.
Now start editing the toys.
Yep, you heard me right. First, you have to take stock of what your kid is even still interested in anymore. Donate gently used toys to a charity, trash broken toys, have a garage sale, or give some to a friend.
Are you happy with what’s left? Good, you can move on to the next step. Still have too many for the space? If so, consider doing a rotation system. Put some of the overflow toys in a large Tupperware bin and put away in the attic or a storage closet. And, if you can get your kid(s) involved in this process, even better! Trust me on this one, it’ll get them excited when a month from now you tell them that if they want “new” toys, they have to pick ones they are done with for now – and whatever number that’s in that pile, that’s how many new toys you’ll give them. You’ll come out looking like the real superhero here.
Finally, keep the room tidy!
Put your “zones” together throughout the room using whatever cubes, tables, bins, etc., you decide work best for you and the shape of the kids’ toys. Now, label it all! And, I’m here to tell you that you may think it doesn’t matter to label if you have a two-year-old, but you’d be so surprised once you do it that they will recognize letters and put things back where they are actually supposed to go! I have seen it with my own eyes – it works. Labeling will be the difference in maintaining this clean, tidy, creative-filled space or reverting to that original room we walked into with toys strewn about.
Phew, you did it. You now have a tidy playroom and the tools to keep it that way! Cue excited giggles and frantic running around as the kids run around checking out their “new” playroom setup! Now it’s time for you to sit back and enjoy more than 5 minutes of quiet before the next “I’m bored” comment. Pat yourself on the back, mama! Good work!