5 Tips to De-clutter Your Playroomby Katlyn Joy | May 20, 2012
It's amazing the way toys seem to multiply, perhaps even breed, once home in your child's playroom. If you live in a smaller home, you may think the toys have actually taken over. One of the most important things to keep this from happening is to be vigilant.
1. Have a sorting party.
Get three piles going; one to throw away, one to keep and one to give away. You can donate toys to preschools, daycares, or Goodwill. If your child is old enough to participate, explain how the process will work and that some children don't have enough toys and how happy they will be. Let them know that they will not have room for new toys if they don't sort out the toys they've outgrown or grown bored with.
Start by tossing out the broken toys, the toys that are obviously too young for your child, and toys with missing parts. Throw out toys that are broken or missing parts, and put toys that the child has outgrown into the donation pile. When your child picks toys to give to other children for the donation pile, be sure to show enthusiasm for how much the other children enjoy and appreciate them and praise for their ability to share.
Once you've sorted through every toy, bundle up the donations and cart off the cast offs. Don't be surprised if your child protests or cries at some point. You may want to haul off the donations and trash toys when your child is away or sleeping. Never force a child to give up a beloved toy that they are not ready to part with, however.
2. Determine the best sorting system for your playroom.
The type of storage systems required will depend on your space, the types of toys your child has the most of and the age of your child. If your little one is heavily into Matchbox or Hot Wheel cars, you'll need different storage containers than a child who has an obsession with stuffed animals. Take stock of what your child's toys are comprised of and sort them by type and size. Put pretend grown up toys in one pile, such as tea sets and pretend vacuums. Put little character toys in another. Have all the playsets together with all the pieces.
3. Buy storage containers that work for your child's toys and your child's age.
If you want your little one to learn to be responsible for picking up their messes, then make it easy. Buy containers that are easily picked up and moved by chubby little hands. Make sure the containers are clear so the child knows what's inside without needing to dump out the contents. Label shelves with pictures of what goes there. This is a great skill for toddlers and preschoolers too, to match items to pictures.
Don't use old toyboxes with dangerous hinges that can pinch fingers, or lids that can crash on little ones. Never use a shelving unit or piece of furniture that can topple over on a child who will climb on it, no matter how many times they've been warned against it. Screw a top heavy piece of furniture to the wall if you must use it.
4. Consider having items with multiple purposes.
A toybox with bookshelves is one such choice. So is a table that has storage beneath it. Make sure every large piece doesn't just eat up space but rather wisely utilizes it. If a child outgrows it, get rid of it. Keeping the clutter down is easier if you realistically observe how a child uses the space. If he can't play with his blocks because of a large mostly unused Lego table, get rid of the seldom used things.
5. Keep it picked up.
Once you've gotten things sorted, arranged and laid out well then keep it up. The best way is to have a regular time each day to do quick picking up. Engage your child with you in the cleaning, no matter how young. If you start when they are young, they will be learning responsibility for their things. If a child refuses to pick up her toys, pick them up and remove them from the toyroom for a period of time. Once a week do a more thorough cleaning and sort out items you observe that are broken or missing parts.
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