Claire Savage and Lisa Skinner from Order in the House share five tips for a fun and organised playroom…
As adults we can appreciate the need for order and tidy spaces but children – not so much. We only have to look at the average child’s bedroom or playroom to know the truth of that. These spaces are amongst the hardest in the home to keep tidy – being lost in a make- believe world of play and oblivious to the ensuing mess is part and parcel of being a child after all. Upsetting the order by taking toys out to play is part of the fun – but we’re here to tell you that there are ways and means to help children restore that order at the end of their play session. If you give children a system of organisation to work to, they will come to understand it and enjoy playtime even more when they can find exactly what they’re looking for.
Categorise the Toys
Try to contain all of your children’s play toys/craft materials in one place that they can identify as ‘theirs’, it’s important to give them ownership of an area of the home. Once you’ve gathered all their items together start to categorise them. Whilst we want to encourage the sharing of toys, if there are a number of children using the same space, we recommend categorising their toys with regards to who owns what, then labelling and storing them accordingly. This gives the child a sense of importance and helps heighten their feelings of ownership over this room.
We find it helpful to create various zones for different types of play, you could have a calming space for reading or quiet time, you may even wish to make it a sensory area using different textures and including a weighted blanket (this can be particularly helpful for children with additional needs). There could be an area for imaginative play (figures/dolls/dress up/etc.) and another area for creative play (art/ craft/play-doh/kinetic sand). Creative play spaces can be greatly enhanced by the addition of easels, pen pots for stationery and clear jars for craft items. The range also stock a quirky ‘Really Useful’ multi-coloured tower unit for storing art supplies. ‘Every child is an artist’, Picasso once said and we agree – it’s so important to encourage children in their creative efforts by displaying their artwork. We know it is impossible to keep absolutely all the artwork, a lot will inevitably end up in the recycle bin, hopefully unknown to the children, but you can house a lot of works of art in a My Little Davinci picture frame. These frames enable you to display the latest artwork at the front while keeping up to 49 other pieces behind it.
Your play area will flow much better if you have a uniform look throughout. We recommend choosing clear containers that will help your children quickly organise the items that they want to play with, rather than decanting the contents of three boxes before they find what they’re looking for. Always keep a few spare boxes to grow into e.g. to house new items acquired around Christmas or for birthdays. Try to do a regular clear out with your child/children before such events. By including them in this process you give them the opportunity to learn about the value of donating pre-loved items to help others who are less fortunate. However, if your child is reluctant to part with items it may be preferable to rotate the toys in this space. Pack some away and if, after a couple of months, they do not appear to have missed the items that you switched out it may be time to move those toys on.
Make sure all the clear boxes used are labelled, not only for your children but for your own benefit, that way you too will know which toys are supposed to be in which box. If your child’s toys are clearly visible it may help to avoid the ‘I’m bored’ conundrum. It’s also important to ensure there is a clear area in the room, possibly on a rug, where your child knows they can empty their box of choice and play freely.
When it comes to storing the contents of a playroom we suggest using storage lockers – some of our favourites are those by Mustard Made and Habitat for argos, we’ve found them particularly useful for storing board games. the IKea Kallax unit is another good storage solution, the compartments can be left open for books or decorative toys or filled with boxes/drawers labelled accordingly. Crates are also very on trend at present for storing toys, Sostrene Grene sell sustainable ones at competitive prices or for a wider variety of colours you could check out those by aykasa, Hay or Chickadee. Next, on to the teddies – they are notoriously hard to house, and despite being a much-loved inhabitant of the playroom sadly they can make a room look cluttered. We tend to opt for storage ottomans to hide them in. this way you add some seating to your play zone and those unsightly teds are out of sight. Everyone’s a winner!
Finally, when tidying this play space do encourage your children to do it with you. Firstly, show them how to tidy then hand over the responsibility for tidying to them. Having a marked place for everything should help them to do so effectively. by creating an experience for your child in their play area, giving them ownership of it and providing them with a visual system of organisation you can achieve the impossible – tidy play!
Order in the House cover all of Ireland and offer a range of services when it comes to professional organising and decluttering. To find out more go to orderinthehouseni.org