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Organize Your Child's Bedroom or Playroom

Written by Danielle Travali.

Organizing your child’s bedroom can be a daunting task, especially if it’s filled with toys, school supplies, artwork, clothes, shoes, and a bedroom set. Many parents have no idea where to put what. We’re going to give you some helpful tips.

Goals of This Project:

  • To neaten up the room.
  • To create a playspace versus a sleep space.
  • To create a system where the children can find their toys and belongings without a problem.
  • To create a system where the children can easily return toys and belongings to their original spaces.

What You Need:

  • Time (about 2-3 hours or more, depending on the amount of clutter)
  • Patience (to bear the stuffed animals falling on your head)
  • Plastic shoe boxes with lids
  • Larger rubber bins
  • Shallow plastic boxes with wheels (for easy underbed storage)
  • Large cardboard box for donating items
  • Colored labels, both large and small
  • Quart-sized plastic zipper bags

What You Do:

Step 1: Assess the space. Visualize what you want the room to look like. On a piece of paper, decide where you’ll divide your child’s sleep space and play space. Because, let’s face it, even if you’ve got a playroom, there will always be playtime in the bedroom. But in order to help separate sleep from play, it’s a good idea to create a smaller, separate area for the toys and art supplies. Decide if and where you want to move the bed. Jot this all down on paper, and save it for later.

Step 2: Declutter. Look at each item in the room. It is best to involve the children in this part of the process; it’s never a good idea to throw anything away or donate a toy without their permission. You never know what items are dearest to their hearts! However, do your best to reason compassionately with them if they happen to be little clutterbugs. Explain to them that in order to make room for new things, it’s important to clear out things they don’t use anymore. Have them toss broken toys into garbage bags.

TIP: You can eliminate large pieces of your child’s artwork while still keeping a beautiful portfolio. Simply take a digital photo of each painting, drawing or sculpture and place each one in a flip-through photo book. You’ll reduce the clutter and yet be able to remember every piece of work your child has created.

Step 3: Clear out the underbed space. You can fill the empty space with organized boxes and bins. You can label the bins and fill them with memorabilia and school supplies, so all your child has to do is slide them out from under the bed when they need those baseball cards or colored pencils. Make a note to only put these boxes under the bed. Nothing else. If a child's bed is too low, you can purchase risers, which are typically sold in bed and bath stores to prop up dorm room beds. It’s a good idea to pick up plastic boxes that have wheels to make moving them in and out easier.

Step 4: Donate. Little kids can't really understand the donate concept very well. They often think they will get these items back, and when they don't, they get very upset. This is a developmental issue. I suggest to parents that they always keep a "toy store" in a separate area, and rotate toys in and out. Children don't need all of their toys accessible all of the time. If a toy has been gone a long time and you think it is no longer relevant, and they haven't asked for it, then you can donate. As children reach middle elementary school you can start working on the donate concept.

Step 5: Put items into the appropriate containers. Once you’ve gotten rid of excess clutter, it’s time to find places to put everything else.

Step 6: Make sure the container fits the item. A large toy box or even a large plastic tub is usually a bad idea. The little pieces fall to the bottom where the child can't reach them (short arms!) Most items will be better off in small, clear boxes. If the items are very large, they can be stored on open shelving, or on the floor... some items will never go into a container. Tiny parts that may get lost (such as doll accessories) should be placed in labeled zipper bags for easy access. Label and categorize everything so the child knows where to put each item when cleaning up after playtime.

Step 7: Stack it up! Little kids frequently can't replace lids. Boxes without lids are preferable, with shelving that allows the "stacking", rather than stacking actual boxes. Plastic stackable bins are great for arranging a playspace. Place building blocks in one bin, Coloring books in another, plastic toys in another, and so on.

Step 8: Label appropriately. Little kids don't read, so labels need to be pictures, not words. Key tags can be great for labeling surfaces which aren't smooth, like a basket.

Step 9: Put it on a shelf. If you’ve got shelving, take advantage of it, but make sure it’s low enough for them to reach. Board games should be stacked neatly on top of one another and placed on one shelf, if possible. Shelves are also perfect for displaying the things they’re most proud of: artwork, trophies, stuffed animals, memorabilia and framed photos. NOTE: Don't put books on a shelf for preschoolers. They can't read the spines, so they end up pulling all of the books off the shelf every time, and their motor skills make it hard to replace them. I suggest large plastic boxes (like a dishpan) that can sit on the floor. Then the children can "leaf" through the books. Again, not all of the books need to accessible all of the time.

Step 10: Hang it up.  Hang up an over-the-door shoe organizer and fill it with Barbie dolls or matchbox cars. Near the exit of the room, install a few hooks, including one for your child’s backpack. Kids hang easier on hooks and racks than on poles. A small coat rack is also great for dress-up clothes.

  • If possible, keep coats/hats/scarves/etc. down in a mudroom or closet. Otherwise kids are just carrying stuff up and down all the time. If they work on schoolwork downstairs, then downstairs is also the place for the backpack.

 

  • You can also hang netting from three corners to store stuffed animals.

 

TIP: Keep the job at eye level. They can't replace items to a space they can’t reach. The items to keep up high are the ones you don't want them to be able to pull out unsupervised (play dough, puzzles with many pieces, messy crafts).

Step 11: Neatly arrange the bedding area. If you have the opportunity and you’ve got enough space to do it, leave a good amount of space between the bed and the play zone. A few feet would be adequate. You want your child’s sleeping area to be peaceful and serene.

Step 12: Organize your child’s clothing closet. The closet is the place where your child will store clothing shoes, and additional toys. We’ll be sharing a separate article on organizing your child’s closet, so stay tuned. In the meantime, fold up those clothes and get them ready for reorganization!

The key to maintaining the space once it is organized is to create routine for the child in restoring order. This can be done by playing a familiar song at a predetermined time each day. For preschoolers, there should be a "cut off" near the end of the day, as both children and parents are tired. For example, after dinner only books, music and stuffed animals can be taken out.

Overall, parents need to remember that children function well with routine and order. They want predictability. At the same time, parents need to not become too obsessed with cleaning. If a child works on building a lego castle, he should be allowed to leave it out for a couple of days. It is also very important that parents model the concept of restoring order every day. They need to not complain about the "mess," and instead put on their own favorite music and show children how happy it makes them to clean up their own spaces. Children (young ones especially) emulate parents!

Contributor to this Article:

Seana Turner, PO

Danielle Travali, MS
Danielle Travali, MS

Danielle Travali, also known to many as the Web and television personality "Holly Pinafore," is a journalist, entrepreneur, and food & wine enthusiast. She is a certified food coach, stress management coach and fitness trainer who studied mindful eating and food psychology. Danielle also holds a master's degree in Journalism from Quinnipiac Un.. Read more

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