If you’re anything like me as a parent, you neither have the space, nor the time to let your kids play spaces be a stress factor. There’s a few things you should keep in mind before you get started. It’s going to look worse before it looks amazing. It may be emotional (let’s face it, sometimes we become attached too). You will want to teach your kids the new system and involve them. Last, and most important, it doesn’t have to be picture perfect! It just has to be perfect for your family and your space. The same organizing techniques won’t work for everyone. Here are my easy tips and creative ideas for organizing kids play spaces.
PURGE and CLEAN
For the best results, you want to start with a clean slate. Separate things into three main piles.
- Trash- broken, junked up, nasty, unuseable, etc.
- Donate- things they don’t play with (trust me unless it’s a favorite they lost recently, they won’t even notice), things they’ve grown out of, things you absolutely hate ( you were thinking it too, haha), etc.
- Keep- the rest… this is the pile you will be sorting.
Now, clean from top to bottom, and start fresh!!!
DIVIDE and CONQUER
This step is crucial because it will help you determine what types of storage will be best for you or how you want to organize your existing storage. You should have a good idea of what major groups of toys your kids have. Sort them into groups based on similarities. These are my groups:
- baby toys
- stuffed animals
- barbie dolls & baby dolls
- action figures & trucks
- legos & blocks
- small toys
- DVDs/Video Games
Now that you have everything sorted, let the fun begin! Tackle your biggest groups first to get them out of the way.
Storage Ideas For Kids Play Spaces
First, remember you are creating a space for kids. You want to be sure it is as easy for them to play in as it is to clean up. Here’s what worked best for my family:
My youngest is 15 months, and rather enjoys digging for his toys, which makes a wooden toy chest perfect for larger toys that are difficult to store in other areas. The toy chest doubles as a seating area or “table” for building legos.
Wrangling the Animals:
Stuffed animals are my biggest source of frustration. They always seem to multiply no matter what I do! I decided to make 1 big stuffed animal out of them in my girls’ room. I took an adult XL olaf onesie sleeper they picked out and stuffed him with all of the extra animals. A cute stuffed lion is his head, and his name is “Sir Turkey Head”. In my boys’ room, my oldest son keeps all his big “stuffers” at the foot of the top bunk, while the rest hang in a mesh basket in the corner of their room.
Barbie Dolls & Baby Dolls
I grouped these together because we have a lot! These go perfectly in 2 more wooden toy chests in my girls’ room. One box has the dolls they are playing with along with their clothes and accessories in clear plastic labeled boxes. This box is easily accessible, and has a cushion and pillows on top that doubles as a “book nook”. The other box has the dolls that are stored for when it’s time to rotate toys. “Sir Turkey Head” sits on top this box and serves as a nice cushion for them to sit on for reading or watching TV.
Action Figures & Trucks
I used to keep action figures (and barbies) in shoe hangers behind the doors until we acquired too many. 4 boys equal 1,000,000 action figures. Now, we have 2 storage drawers under their bunk beds. Spider-Man and friends are in one, and all the trucks in the other. In the truck drawer i keep an open plastic storage container for smaller trucks and matchbox cars so they can just throw them in.
Legos & Blocks
Mega Blocks and wooden blocks for the baby are stored in a canvas basket on the floor for easy access. I decided to go old school and screw the lids of large plastic containers to the underside of a low hanging shelf in the boys room. This makes it simple for them to screw and unscrew the containers to and from the lids for legos. Different containers house different colors. My 6 year old son wanted to make labels himself, it’s a work in progress. The shelf above the containers along with lego strips throughout the room are home to their finished lego works. Although the legos “live” in the boys’ room, they’re community property.
We don’t have many of these with a baby around, but each one of my kids has their own “treasure box” for their tiny toys that they keep on top of their dressers.
DVDs & Video Games
We installed white wooden shelving very easily with L-brackets and bracket covers throughout the kids rooms. These serve many purposes, one of which is to hold the boys’ DVDs (we don’t have video games), TV, as well as their DVD player.
The shared bookshelf is in the girls room. It may be controversial, but the Rainbow Bookshelf works for us! Let’s face it, it’s so pretty too. My kids are visual. Before they can read, they know what their favorite book looks like, right? So my kids have no problem finding the books they want, nor do I. They are way more likely to put books back neatly as well because all they have to do is match colors. However, just in case they’re not feelin’ it, each of my kids has their own place saver cards so they can put it in when they take a book to remember where their spot is.
Be sure to include their ideas too. We use clear fishing line and clothespins to hang pictures and art. The boys have all of their autographed Saints footballs on a high shelf above a chalkboard we made out of an old door and pieces of a wooden train set. They also have their very own “Man Cave” complete with their guard snake “Troy”. The girls have their seating areas which they enjoy along with their collection of Muses shoes and Mardi Gras masks on their high shelves. They choose to hang their artwork in their windows for the neighborhood to see, and their collection of Beatles memorabilia decorate their walls, along with yellow and green shutters we hung on the wall inside.
Most of our “stuff” isn’t in cubes or bins in the play areas, we keep these in the living areas for homework items, extra everyday storage, a few baby items, etc. We clean up everyday after dinner to try to keep it clean. About once a month I do a clean sweep and see if there’s any toys to throw out or any toys that need to be washed, hence these things make upkeep much easier.
Finally, once kids get into the routine of picking up, it will become habit, and that day is wonderful, because for such little people, they sure do make a huge mess!