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Playroom Organization: Tips for creating a space that inspires creativity and pretend play
An organized playroom is the dream of every parent who's walked through a minefield of blocks and trains and miniature hairbrushes on the living room floor. We imagine training our children to put their toys away, to keep their play space neat and tidy. In the next instant, we worry that rules will stifle their fledgling individuality. Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to encourage order in the playroom while still creating a space that inspires creativity and pretend play.
Designate activity areas
Playroom organization is bigger than putting toys in boxes and cubbies. The layout of the room itself can guide your child's playtime. Set up different areas of the room to encourage different types of play: an art corner, a reading nook, a dress-up wardrobe. This simple separation provides clear inspiration without controlling their actions. The room itself reminds your child of the options available, and they are free to choose how they want to play.
Reserve empty space
Especially in a small playroom, it may feel tempting to fill every square foot with storage. Just like unstructured playtime is important to creative development, kids need unstructured play space as well. Maybe they'll choose to dance, or build, or put on a fashion show. Give your children the chance to play in ways you didn't predict.
Use kid-friendly storage
Right-sized furniture and storage lets your little partners feel secure and independent in their play space. Make sure toys and art supplies are kept within their reach. The ability to take down and put away toys on their own lets your children engage in solo play, a key developmental type of pretend play.
Choose easy-clean surfaces
Did you flinch at the suggestion that art supplies should be kept within easy reach, imagining an afternoon spent scrubbing paint off floors, walls, and sofa cushions? It's true that every surface in a playroom is a potential victim to your child's artistic tendencies, but we can mitigate the damage by choosing smart surfaces. Glossy or semi-gloss paint makes walls and furniture easier to wipe clean. Cover upholstered furniture with slip-covers. Buy area rugs you can toss in the washing machine. Consider installing floor tiles in carpet or foam that can be easily replaced. Designing a playroom that's easy to clean will improve your piece of mind against the occasional mishap.
Forget the labels
Rows of matching fabric bins with scripted labels look wonderful on Pinterest, but they can be frustrating for children who are years away from learning how to read. Use intuitive storage as much as possible by keeping similar toys together and storing toys near to where your child will use them. Re-work the system until you find what fits for your family. If you absolutely cannot live without some sort of labeling system, consider visual cues instead of words. Maybe ask your kids to draw or paint their own picture-labels to identify toy bins.
Evolve as your children grow
You chose the perfect paint color. You bought the perfect furniture and the perfect toys. You created an Instagram-perfect playroom. Now every day, your son drags his tub of blocks across the carpet to dump it out onto the bare wood, leaving scratches in your beautiful hardwood floor. WHY? Maybe he likes the sound the blocks make when they hit the wood, and you should invest in a xylophone. The best way to understand is to ask and to listen. As your children grow, they will have more and more ideas and wants. Let them help you design a play space that grows along with them.