Updated: Jun 1
Being a mother is more than I could have ever imagined... the immense love, sacrifice, and hard work that is all apart of this beautiful life of caring for little ones. They somehow bring out the best parts of myself, and also the parts that need to grow immensely. They help grow my capacity, my creativity, and also my insanity at times with the level of messiness that comes with learning and exploring. Our little 1200 square-foot abode can quickly turn into a toy-tornado. And because I want our littles to explore freely, in a place where it's safe to make messes and learn responsibility, I am creatively finding ways how to create a safe place for them to learn and grow while keeping it manageable on a daily basis. Although there are many ways to tidy kids' spaces, here are some tips to help make life a little easier with little ones around...
Designate a play area.
Having a separate area where majority of their toys are that keeps the mess (mostly) contained and teaches them boundaries within space. This is why playrooms are a thing and really do work! Having a play area encourages them to play, be messy, while also giving them something to be in charge of to empower them and teach responsibility. The more kids play in their space, the less they will be playing in YOUR space. Yes, there will be plenty of times where they will move their toys from room to room, or go through your drawers, but in our home, we label everything as either a tool, a toy, or decor. Sometimes our 2-year-old Liam, will play with some 'tools', like a screwdriver or kitchen utensils, but we are teaching him to put tools and toys away, and not mess with decor (unless if he wants to smell a candle of course!). This way he knows where toys go, and where tools go, and he loves it!
Use containers and storage furniture.
You can use baskets, cubbies, or storage benches... anything and everything to sort and organize so that toys are off the floor. The more floor you see, the more peaceful you will be! Kids love containers too and are natural organizers! They love to transfer toys from one container to another if you give them the opportunity! Sometimes you will see all the containers emptied out with all the toys on the floor, but having some kind of storage gives everything a place, making it easier to put away the toys, and very satisfying I should say! Plus it makes it easier for not only you to put toys away, but kids can learn early too!
Organize by kind.
Just like you would organize your pantry by grouping condiments, snacks, or party supplies, grouping toys by kind, size, or color is very useful and practical. In our home, we have one basket for anything with wheels, a basket for balls, stuffed animals, and a basket for all the colorful, musical audio toys. I am a neutrals kind of girl, and sometimes I'd prefer all kids toys to be wood and neutral, but they also need color and music for their development! Organizing toys by kind keeps the play areas clean and help the little ones in knowing what goes where, it also lets me know when I have too much of one kind, and encourages me to purge the excess toys that aren't played with as much.
Call this the Montessori way, but rotating toys helps keep the play areas tidy and also keeps things interesting for the littles! We have a secret storage under our sofa cushion, so
it definitely helps create a bit of magic for when new toys suddenly appear, also giving other toys a break for a while. I typically rotate toys every couple weeks, and it keeps my toddler occupied and always learning something new as he grows and develops. At our house, we have a cubby shelf where I'll keep the top shelves for displaying a the main toys each in their own cubby, so that they are in plain site to encourage play. Then I have baskets in the lower cubbies, for the smaller, grouped toys. I have found that if I keep all the toys in baskets, then my toddler will dump out all the toys, becoming overwhelmed by all the options. But if I keep 2-3 toys out on the top shelf that I want him to play with, he will more than likely play with those toys and less toys become dumped onto the floor.
I talked about having storage furniture like cubbies and storage benches, but I have found that creating tiny stations within the playroom works really well. Some station ideas include having a quiet reading corner with a bean bag, or having a mini table and chairs to color or do crafts. Another idea is having a play kitchen, or a sensory table set up. This may sound like a classroom, but the good thing is you only need 2-3 stations to keep their little minds engaged. Liam is currently into everything with wheels, so his bike and shopping cart move around the most, but he LOVES his play mats, cubby storage, and anything that is miniature size. It's the stations that we encourage him to visit first thing in the morning to pursue creativity rather than television.
Utilize wall space.
You may be thinking, how can wall space be used for tidying? Well utilizing wall space is one of my favorite secrets to tidying! There's so many ways to organize toys and using shelves, wall caddies, or hooks are fun for displaying. One of my favorite wall organizers from Gathre, called the Wall Tidy is beautiful and functional. All of Gathre's vegan leather goods are great for the whole family and they have everything from educational play mats and posters to floor pillows and storage bins! When it comes to storage and organization, they have thought of everything, especially when it comes to walls! I would definitely check them out when needing anything for kids and organization!
In the end, tidying up a kids' play area doesn't have to be as daunting as it may seem. In fact, it is my desire that every family loves their home+life by embracing the beautiful mess in the process of making home suitable for what kids need in their critical stages of learning. I believe that tidying can be fun at any age and why not start with the messiest places in the home?! Which kid's tidy-tactic are you needing a little more in your life?