Welcome back to week nine of my ten week organizing challenge! I’m so excited to be nearly wrapping this whole thing up that I have to bold lettering!
After the Playroom, the next focus is “wildcard”… meaning, whatever specific areas you have left in your home or life that need tackling.
I have a list of things that I’m still working away on, so I plan to continue to share weekly organizing posts that work along with this challenge; but the main spaces in our home are finished! Purged! Re-organized!
But you should see the garage….
(think scary dramatic music in your head: dum-dum-dum)
Anyhow, we’ll leave that horror picture for another day; let’s get focused on the organizing project at hand! The playroom! Or since it’s not really a room, we’ll call it the kid’s play zone.
To give you a framework for the space I’m working with: our playroom area is in one section of a large, open basement rec room. We have divided this completely open space into zones: the lake entry (sort of like a mud room during the summer that we use when we access the lake yard and the dock/water); the TV zone (with a large sectional and two comfy chairs); the music zone (with our piano and drum set); the workout zone (with our treadmill and hand weights); and the playroom zone (with all the boy’s toys, their air-hockey/ping-pong table, and our bookcases with the families important books and games).
Last spring I had the opportunity to take part in a special four week challenge/competition called the FrogTape Paintover Challenge. The idea was to makeover one space in our homes according to a design style that we had been assigned. I was assigned the style “fresh and fab” and we set about making over our family room and playroom area with this approach. For all the details on this original makeover, check out my full reveal post here.
Since the big reveal, the family room and rec room have remained relatively unchanged until recently. But that doesn’t mean that they were functioning quite as well as I would like.
It was not just messy, but had become a bit disorganized because we had too much stuff! That appears to be the common theme in this series!
Step One: PURGE
Go through and get rid of all toys, books, and decorative objects that you are not using or that you don’t truly love. For example; I even got rid of some of my shelf decor; but kept all the globes because I do love them (even though they are terribly out of date by now).
The boys had definitely outgrown many of their toys. I think it’s even more critical to keep on top of purging children’s toys because over time things change so often. It can be painful to let go of toys and games that hold special memories, but holding onto things doesn’t leave any room for the new adventures and activities that are yet to come.
The boys were “hesitant” to purge some of their toys – even though I haven’t seen them play with some of them in over a year. So I gave them a little extra encouragement and told them that they could have a table in the garage sale and sell their own toys and keep that money.
You may find it easier to purge without your children, depending on their age? I did a lot of it while they played nearby; and just checked in with them about the items as we went.
The games and puzzles on the shelves were messy and a bit disorganized as well…
And we had enough stuffed animals to provide a small country full of children with one each…
We managed to get our bin of stuffed animals down to half of the original size; we also managed to let go of the larger trucks; some old puzzles that are now too easy; and about half the costumes and dress-up stuff that they had both outgrown.
Step Two: Sort and Re-organize
I ordered eight of the Stripes Around The Cube Bins (11″x11″) from Land of Nod because they fit perfectly inside of our Ikea shelf unit.
I also ordered four of the Stripes Around The Floor Bins (16″x16″) because some of the larger items store a lot better inside a big bin.
I laid out all 12 of the bins and began sorting all the toys that had survived the purge. This step will vary, of course, based on your child’s age and toys and needs. But I do highly recommend using bins as it makes cleanup super quick and easy!
We ended up with smaller bins for: (1) cars and the car mat; (2) puzzles; (3) log building set; (4) train set; (5) pingpong and air hockey accessories (6) costume/dress up accessories (7) superhero toys (8) misc.
In the large bins I sorted out and stored the: (1) stuffed animals; (2) costumes; (3) indoor sports accessories; (4) large Paw Patrol set.
I had originally thought that the large bins could sit against a wall or against the back of the sofa that divides the room into play zone and TV zone; but I found they slid perfectly underneath of the Airhockey / Ping Pong table!
I also brought the DIY Rolling LEGO cart downstairs from the boy’s bedroom and it slides perfectly under the couch!
This is such a great change because their bedroom was pretty tight for playing lego in; and I’m happy to have all the toys in one place in the house instead of spread out everywhere.
Step Three: Keep it Up!
Your children will not naturally and magically figure out how to keep their toys in these neat little categorized bins just because they’ve been set up and organized. This is where the teaching comes in. I went through each bin and I showed my boys how they were organized and where to put things away. Not just once, but several times. Kids need support and refreshers as they learn new skills; and how to clean up and put their toys away neatly is definitely a new skill for most.
Kids will generally be able to pick up after themselves easily on a daily basis after they’ve been taught; but over time things will likely migrate into the incorrect category. Labeled bins (words or pictures for younger children) can definitely help with this process. For me, I go downstairs with the boys every month or so and we re-sort out the bins together.
Once you’ve gotten the toys purged, sorted, organized, and done the teaching and support as your children learn the skills to be tidy and organized then it’s much less likely that your separate playroom will become quite as messy and scary as it did before. Or at least, when it does, everyone in the family knows how to tackle it!
But with a super easy system and a reasonable amount of toys to deal with, it shouldn’t take very long!
These old Tonkas were my husbands as a child… sometimes it’s okay to hold onto old toys for sentimental reasons; if you love them or if you have a great spot to display them.
Only you can really make that call about what things are important enough for your to keep; and what things don’t really bring you any joy but you are holding and storing them anyhow.
We keep our books and our games together on the same shelves…
Are you tackling this at your house?
Here are some amazing organizing tools that might work perfectly for you!
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To check out the rest of the projects and ideas in this 10 week organizing series, head to my original challenge post:
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