A version of this story originally ran on Home with the Harrisons, and was written by Lindsey Harrison of New Canaan-Darien Moms.
Credit: Donna Dolan
With the holidays coming up, that means more crafts, artwork, gifts….and clutter. In order to start 2022 as organized as possible, we’re taking some time over the next few weeks to organize play spaces in our homes. Whether you have babies, toddlers, or older kids, having some strategies in place can keep your home tidier, and help kids play more independently and stay engaged longer. Here are five smart tips to try:
Implement an Organized System
Baskets, Bins and cubbies are your best friend. I’m the biggest advocate for a storage system, specifically one that uses baskets because they are a great solution to keep items out of sight, yet close enough to access when needed. They’re perfectly suited for children as well – whether that’s pulling toys out by the handful or cleaning up and putting them back where they belong. To keep it simple, keep your kids toys organized by sorting items by type and grouping like items together.
It can be easy to go overboard with toys, between birthdays, holidays and spending so much time at home. New toys and games seem to make their way into our home at a rapid rate. I value sustainability and quality over quantity. To ensure your child doesn’t get overwhelmed with the amount of options, remove the clutter regularly. Here’s how:
- Broken toys or toys missing pieces that you no longer have a use for – throw away.
- If a toy is only slightly worn but no longer age appropriate or has not seen the light of day in far too long, sell or donate it. Special keepsake items, you could save and display it on a shelf.
- Here’s another tip: involve your little one in the process. I purge through clothing and other household items at least once a season so my daughter is familiar with the clean out and make room process.
- Consider buying The Give Back Sack, an adorable bag that comes with a book about giving back. Your kids help you add toys to the sack, and then you leave it for Santa!
- Books they’ve outgrown can be put on SellBackYourBook.com, and then you can update your collection SecondSale.com. (Use code LOCALMOMS for 15% off.)
Get the Right Storage
In an effort to ensure our family room doesn’t turn into a preschool, we keep a wicker storage trunk filled with books, games, costumes and toys. We spend so much time in our family room, having these toys within an arms’ reach comes in handy, especially when I’m preparing meals or flipping a load of laundry. This trunk is the perfect solution to store toys in a practical and sophisticated way. If you don’t have a designated play room and instead, have toys stored in a few rooms in the house, a storage ottoman or bench is a great alternative to concealed soft storage.
Credit: Annie Schlechter
Between holiday breaks coming up, quarantine periods and other days spent at home, it’s easy to pull out every toy to keep your child entertained—especially when all those toys are available and accessible to your child. The problem? They never get put back. In following the Montessori’s minimalist approach, display fewer objects within reach. Toddlers who are offered fewer toys engage meaningfully with the objects, spending more time exploring versus toddlers who are offered dozens of toys. Rotate these toys to not overwhelm your child by keeping certain toys out on certain days. Watch as your child deeply engages with these toys rather than grabbing the newest shiny object after a few short minutes. The bonus? It’ll be much easier to keep your play space tidy.
Coordinate and Zone Your Space
To keep your playroom organized and efficient, create different play zones, or areas. Pick themes of play your child enjoys and plan your room accordingly. For instance:
- Calm Reading Nook
- Perfect for relaxing and reading, an area to unwind.
- Suggested Materials: Cozy rugand playmat, tent and cushion, lounge chair, bookshelf
- Messy Arts & Crafts Zone
- Encourage sensory, tactile play with various materials.
- Suggested Toys: Kinetic Sand, Water Beads, Playdough, Rainbow Pasta
- Play Zone
- This is where the building, imaginary play and engagement happens.
- Suggested Toys: Legos/Magnatiles, Bricks, Musical instruments