8 Great Ways to Keep the New Toy Room Straight
It’s a new house, a new day and you promise yourself this time it will be different. You will make the children clean their rooms. But weeks later, all the tiny pieces of toys you thought you purged during the move – they breed and multiply and take over the floor space. How can you curtail the clutter for good?
1. Create a place for everything
It sounds cliché, but if you truly want to keep things tidy in the hectic hullabaloo of daily life, you will need to make sure everything has a home. From books to large play sets to the most micro of micro-toys, give it a home. Make sure to leave a miscellaneous storage bin handy for those random toys that defy all categories. This will make daily or weekly cleaning a cinch.
2. Group similar items
Try storing similar items in one container. Structuring it this way makes the cleanup process fast, easy, and intuitive.
3. Find the right tools
You must have the right tools for the job and it doesn’t have to cost a small fortune. Plastic buckets or crates can work for ball storage. Fishing nets hung in the corners can store stuffed animals. For smaller items like matchbox cars, doll accessories or Lego pieces, look for antique soda crates with built-in dividers. Install casters on the bottom for a handy storage tool that easily rolls under the bed. Another option would be clear kitchen canisters for a see-through approach to organization. Wall-mounted flower planters could store larger odds and ends in unique fashion without consuming precious floor space. You may be surprised at what storage tools, you can find right at hand. A little innovation and elbow grease can add a lot of cute organizational touches to your décor.
4. Buy multipurpose furniture
Make sure the furniture you use is storage-friendly. Could the bed have a bookcase headboard? Could freestanding bookcases or dressers have different sizes of drawers for storing small keepsakes? Could a mirrored vanity double as a nightstand? Think outside the box and imagine the potential in each piece you buy.
5. Use labels
Labeling drawers or baskets can engage younger helpers. Instead of words, you can print and laminate photos of the item. This approach eliminates the guessing game for young children who may otherwise struggle with the cleanup process.
6. Make your space work overtime
Hogging floor space is a bad idea, unless it’s in the closet – in an organized fashion, of course! So how can you clear the floor space? Look for vertical spaces to utilize. Over-the-door shoe sleeves work beautifully for storing Matchbox cars. Consider built-in bookshelves instead of toy boxes and other furniture. Hang storage baskets from the bed rails or from the ceiling above the bed. Get creative about the potential for existing spaces.
7. Be willing to purge
It’s amazing how quickly random odds and ends can accumulate. Whether it’s a kid’s meal toys, a freebie handout from an event or school, identify what your kid no longer plays with and remove it from the room. Odds are good it will never be missed. This should be done each fall and spring at minimum, but ideally once a month. If you want to engage older kids in the process, provide a hands-on lesson about donating gently used items to those less fortunate. For younger kids, consider storing the items out of sight and swapping them seasonally so the toys don’t lose their appeal.
8. Make them want to keep their rooms clean
We can hear you laughing from here, but it’s true – children of a certain age can and should take responsibility for their own stuff. It is part of growing up and preserves your sanity as a parent. There are several ways to motivate your kids to pitch in. Reward them with a monetary allowance or other incentives. Some kids respond better to withholding of privileges, such as television or video games, until the cleaning is done. When they manage their responsibility well, shower on the praise to encourage a sense of pride and ownership of their space. To engage younger children, keep cleaning light and fun – consider a timed toy pick-up race or a similar game.
Keeping an organized living space is not rocket science, but it can get overwhelming without a strategy. So stay mindful of these eight tips and add in a few of your own. No guarantees you’ll never step on a Lego brick at 2 a.m.