Every child should have a space to play and express themselves. Whether it is a large room dedicated for play or a small sitting area. For our case it is our multitasking Living room where Movie night, welcoming a guest and play happens. With all these activities happening in one small room, our living room end up being cramped and filled with plastic containers for organizing toys. It is a scene where my son will be looking for a certain toy and we end up opening all the containers just to find what he is looking for. But there is a time in your life where you say let’s do change and make life easier. I did just that.
I wanted an area where my son can freely choose what he wants to do and let his imagination fly. I want him to learn independent play where he learns to entertain himself and practice walking the world, well atleast for my 2 year old “the Legoland”. Since I decided to dedicate 30 to 45 minutes a day just to sit down with my son with no phone, TV and laptop (yes! it’s hard)having a place that allows him to take the lead is essential . As for my 4 month old, I am starting to be more present and not giving him only half of my attention.
Now, let’s get to it, here are my 3 steps to creating a play area when space is limited
Step 1: Declutter
I think this is the hardest step because you have to decide what you have to throw away, donate or keep. Kids have alot of toys, I know I am not alone on this. Just thinking of going through everything is a nightmare. But take that step, tie up your hair, get comfy, be brave and dive in. After everything is placed on their designated boxes, I went through the toys we want to keep one more time and see which one my 2 year old plays the most then store the rest in another room or the garage. Don’t forget to label everything. This will also make rotation of toys easy and not buying new ones all the time. I also have a drawer in the garage where I put new toys, we don’t open everything at the same time. The word “surprise” seems to bring so much joy to him when we have to open a new toy or simply reunite with a singing caterpillar that we have not seen for a long time.
Step 2: Categorize
By putting things that are the same, organizing will be easier. So I put Legos, books, musical instruments and toy cars together. It gives a clean look and finding things will be easier that way. I am a big fan of wooden toys, they are fun to play with and at the same time very attractive when used as a decor.
Step 3: Use what you have before buying new stuff
Since I want things to be more accessible to my kids and have clean up time faster. I decided to get a cubby and wire baskets for more visibility. But the rest are from home. I reuse our wooden crate and just labeled it for his lego. I placed his oversized cars and bridges in the wire baskets, which makes putting it away easier.
For his musical instruments and art boards, I use our dish/baking tray organizer. Really, it was just lying around not serving it’s purpose, now it has a new job. You can buy a wooden one if your budget allows. Now, my son could just grab what he wants to use at the moment and just return it when he is done.
For the rest of his toys, I reuse our plastic containers but everything is categorized and labeled.
When you play area is ready, take a picture and enjoy it. It does not last long as the exploring begins, but the good thing is you have a play area where your child can grow and learn. Clean up will be a breeze (not all the time), since you have a place for everything. I always keep in mind that everything has a home, it is a reminder that you have to put things back. Another rule we follow is the one toy at a time so the mess will not build up. In the end., the most important thing is you and your child learning together and about each other. How fun it is to have a place to bloom as a child and also as a parent with alot to share. No matter what look you choose as long as there is joy, kindness and love everything else is just a plus.
PS. If you need help creating or organizing your kids playroom feel free to snap a picture and contact me. We will work together on making things better for you and your child with no charge just patience and an open mind. Hope to hear from you soon.