Do you have a closet you haven’t opened in literal years for fear of the inevitable avalanche of headless Barbies and puzzles with one piece missing? Are you used to finding infant teething toys in your 6-year-old’s playroom? Have you accidentally taught your kids some curse words because you stepped on yet another pile of Legos barefoot? Fear not! It is possible to have a clean, organized playroom that you *gasp* actually enjoy spending time in with your kids. Wait, does that mean the kids will play happily while you… get an actual break? I think it does. We’ve got 10 quick and easy tips for creating an inviting, creative and tidy playroom that will guarantee it becomes the favorite room in the house. Now, if only this worked for the bathroom…
1. Keep it off the floor
Playrooms are a space for playing, learning and creating — none of which can be accomplished if there’s only a little bit of floor space available. Instead of subtracting space by covering the floor with bins and bookshelves, try wall-mounted storage, like these shelves with bins from Ikea.
2. Bookshelves are pointless
Most playrooms have a traditional bookshelf with all the books crammed onto the shelf. But in that, all the child can see is the spine of the book, which unsurprisingly doesn’t inspire them to read. In a survey conducted by Scholastic, 91 percent of children say their favorite books are the ones they’ve picked out themselves, and 90 percent say they are more likely to finish reading a book they have picked out themselves.
So use cheap picture ledges like these to display books on. Voilà! A library wall where you can actually see the books covers, therefore making it more likely your child will actually want to read them.
3. Create a designated spacer for each activity
Instead of having your playroom be a room where organization comes to die, try to create a specific designated space for each activity that together make a cohesive play area. Paint a wall with chalkboard paint for an art corner. Keep a stack of comfy pillows or beanbags by a wall-mounted bookshelf for a fun reading nook. By designating areas for each activity, it also makes it easier for your child to recognize each area, so when you say, “Let’s clean up the art corner!” you won’t get a blank stare as they try to figure out if the sticker covered couch or the jar of lidless markers under the stairs is the “art corner.”
4. Rotate toys
At the beginning of every month, or every couple of months, look around the playroom and see what toys just haven’t been played with very much recently. Take a bin, put those toys in it, and put it away. At the end of the month, bring those toys out again and put the un-played-with toys from that month in the bin. Repeat. You’ll be shocked at how excited your kids get when you pull out their old toys they haven’t seen in a while — it’s like they’re brand-new toys! If you bring them out of storage and your kids aren’t that excited, it’s time for those toys to be donated. This might seem a little tricky (who can remember to take a vitamin every day, let alone swap out bins of toys), but have no fear — set an alarm on your phone to remind you.
5. Double duty
Nothing in a playroom should serve only one function. There are countless ways to double up on an item’s functionality. Use storage boxes that double as seating, use a hanging pocket organizer to house both art supplies and small items that would get lost in bigger bins. Lastly, use picture-hanging wire and some clothespins to display your child’s handiwork (which conveniently doubles as a means of drying their painted works of art without taking up table space or floor space with a drying rack.)
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A version of this article was originally published July 2018.