The holidays are over – and the stats show that we bought more than ever this year. Have you found yourself staring at a pile of new toys that you need to find homes for? Not sure where it’s all going to go? NOW is the perfect time for a playroom refresh.
Refreshing the playroom must be a regular chore, given the amount of use it gets. I recommend adding regular refreshes to your calendar (or mine, if you find yourself needing help). One reset per quarter tends to work well: start right after the holidays, then add one in June just before summer break, another in September right after school begins, and a final one as the weather begins to cool – a time when you’ll find yourself spending more time indoors and preparing for the holiday season (and, you guessed it, more toys!).
Follow these five steps each time you reset to keep this space functioning at its best and looking great!
Step One: Purge
It may seem excessive to purge four times a year, but it really is key to keeping the toys from overwhelming the space. Find and get rid of any broken toys. Kids are rough when they play and they grow quickly, meaning some toys just aren’t going to last all that long. If you see something they’ve outgrown, donate it or put it away with your other hand-me-downs.
After the holidays, assess the new items your kids received. If something is similar to a toy they already have, pick one if there isn’t room to store them together. Using your bins as limits (e.g. you can only keep the stuffies that fit in this basket) is an easy way to keep toys from taking over.
Step 2: Setup a Toy Rotation
This step is especially important if you have a smaller space or if the playroom is located in a room that serves multiple functions. It can also keep kids interested in their toys for longer by bringing back that sense of novelty every so often.
Have a designated bin of toys that “hides”. Swap which toys are in the bin each quarter when you refresh. You can also keep holiday-specific toys tucked away the rest of the year in your holiday storage bins. Your kids will love the surprise each year when the themed toys make their appearance! (You can temporarily store every day toys in your holiday bins until you are ready to put your decor away.)
Step 3: Decant Games and Puzzles
This is another quick way to save space. By ditching the boxes, you’ll be able to squeeze so many more games and puzzles into that closet or cabinet!
Clear Plastic Portfolios and Zippered Bags are great options if you want to decant your games. Both options fit well in bins with handles or sustainable open front The Home Edit bins from The Container Store.
Step 4: Easy Access
Here’s my #1 secret to a cleaner playroom: open bins that kids can reach into. If they can see what’s in the bin, then they know where to put things away! If you can, use clear bins. With furniture pieces like the popular Kallax cubby unit from IKEA, don’t use bins that go all the way to the top of the cubby units. If you do, the toys will be out of sight, out of mind. Your kids won’t play with the toys and it’s hard for clean up. Instead, select bins that are half the height of the cubby so that it’s easy for kids to both access their toys, and also easy for them to clean up!
You’ll also save yourself a lot of time if they don’t have to ask you to get things down for them while they play. Make sure that everything they have access to is an approved item, though, and store up high things like paints and items with smaller pieces if you have younger kiddos.
If your kids craft in the playroom, grab a divided lazy susan and stock it with easily accessible markers, crayons, kid-safe scissors, etc. Keep paper or coloring books nearby for hours of creative fun!
Step 5: Label Everything
Once you find a home for all the new toys, and after you’ve purged the old and outgrown, make sure you update your labels. You may need to add new ones or swap out a category to make sense in your new setup. Broad categories are best, avoid getting too specific in a playroom.
Remember to use picture labels if your kids are little or still learning to read, so they can help with cleanup. Use adhesive pouches and hand-draw pictures on an index card or create picture labels using a vinyl cutting machine.
Pro-tip: Want to save yourself even more time during these quarterly resets? Set a timer or turn on your kids’ favorite song for 5 minutes each night before bed, and take that time to put away as much as you can – together. Tackle any leftover cleanup after bedtime or have your kids do it if there is extra time in the morning before school.
Each of my career choices-wedding coordinator, event planner, and teacher — gave me the creative freedom to organize everyone and everything. I have always thrived on to-do lists, planners, and systems! Now, I lead a team of organizers to help me on my mission. Read more…