Today I am tackling the playroom. My kids have gotten older and they don’t really play with the majority of the toys in the playroom area anymore. They are both basically glued to their electronics most of the time. I think it is about time for me to get rid of all that stuff. Since we moved into the rental, the playroom area has been a disaster as you can see above. It is down in the basement so I just avoid going down there. The girls made attempts when we first moved to unpack and put stuff away, but they quickly gave up and just left a heap of partially emptied boxes everywhere and stuff all over the floor. My job today is to go through it all and really get rid of the things that they never play with. I always find it is best to do this when they aren’t around because they can’t whine and tell me that they will play with it one day and convince me to keep it for sentimental reasons.
Since I am sure you really don’t care about what I am getting rid of, I thought I would share some of the tips and tricks that I have found that have helped keep our playroom manageable over the years, especially when they were young. Now, our playroom is not Pinterest worthy or some fancy room you will see on HGTV. It is real world. It is played in, and it is loved. Most of all, it is functional and doesn’t cost a fortune to organize.
This cube shelving thingy is probably the number one best thing ever in the history of playroom organization! LOL! This was actually given to us by some friends that were moving and didn’t want to take it with them. I told my friend that she was insane for letting it go, but inside I was screaming with joy that she was. This unit came from Ikea. If you can afford it and have the space, I highly recommend it. It is the perfect solution for keeping toys together and contained. We use the fabric bins (Walmart) to store everything. When my children were younger, I took pictures of the things that went in each bin and velcroed it to the front of the bin. My kids then knew exactly where to put things when it was time to clean up. It was also easy for them to grab a bin and carry it with them wherever they were playing in the room.
This smaller shelf (similar-Target) with the pink and purple wooden bins (similar-Target) was the first storage piece we had in the playroom before the big unit came along. It came from Target years ago and is no longer available. Ours has served its purpose for many years, but I have decided that we are letting it go. It will not come with us to the new house because it is pretty banged up and in need of repair from all of the moves. The only reason I am showing it to you is so that you can see that you can do a similar organization system with a small bookshelf. You can also see that some of the pictures are actually still stuck on the front of these buckets even though we no longer need them or use them.
To make the pictures for the bins, I simply pulled out a few items from the bin and snapped a picture. It was just enough items so that the kids understood what went in the bin. I sized them on my computer into small squares. Then I printed them all on heavy cardstock paper. After I cut them all out, I laminated them with my small laminating machine (Target). You can always cover them with clear contact paper (Target) if you don’t have access to a laminator just to give them an extra layer of sturdiness and protction. Then I simply used Velcro dots (Walmart) to attach them to the bins. I used Velcro so I could easily switch them around as new toys came in and old ones disappeared. This system really does help with clean up for little ones.
Now, you may be asking what you should do with the larger items that don’t really fit into the bins. Well, I have a solution for that too. These large plastic tubs (Target, Walmart) are great for playrooms. They work really well to hold things like stuffed animals, play sets (ours were Littlest Pet Shops, LalaLoopsies, and Shopkins), legos, and so much more. They do come in various sizes, but the largest ones are the ones we use. You can find them in a variety of colors and you can even embellish them with vinyl like the one you see here or you can also add a picture on them like the bins so your kids know where things go.
To organize art supplies and American doll accessories, I use the plastic drawers like this one or this one at Target. As you can see, my kids stuff them to the brim, but they know what goes where. These are another thing you can add pictures to so that kids know where to put their toys away. For things like markers, crayons, and colored pencils, I use these smaller three drawer sets(Target). This tower is made of two sets on top of each other. Again, you can label them with pictures or vinyl if your kids can read.
I have found through my years as a special education teacher and a mom, that labels are the best thing to get your kids to keep things organized. Whether you use photographs like I did, toy logos from the Internet, or words for kids that can read, labels make it so much easier for them to know exactly where things go. Having an organized system just makes everyone’s life easier when you have little kids.
I am about to head back down to the basement to finish purging the thousands of toys down there that my girls are way too old for. I hope to have just the cube system left standing and the rest ready to sell or donate. Wish me luck!
Anchored and Organized,