Years ago, during one of the first days of summer after my girls had started elementary school, I heard the dreaded words: "I'm bored." I looked over to their toy bins, shelves, and seemingly endless supply of arts and crafts materials, questioning how two kids couldn’t find something to occupy their time. I mean, I knew that lack of options was not the cause for their complaints, so what was?
As adults, it’s common to walk into our closet and complain we have “nothing to wear." I’ve been there, my clients have been there, and chances are you’ve been there on a regular basis as well.
For kids, their version of our closet complaints is often their play space. There are so many options for what to play with next, but for what seems like the majority of the time, nothing seems appealing. There are dozens of toy options at their disposal and yet as parents we hear the dreaded “I’m bored."
It can be frustrating to stare at a room full of puzzles, board games, dolls, legos and more, and think about how kids can’t find something to do. But, it’s possible that it’s not what the options are, but how those options are being stored/presented to your kids.
Yes, believe it or not organization—or lack thereof—could be the culprit behind your kid’s boredom.
During the summer, longer hours are spent at home with no school in session, so I wanted to share what’s worked for me and my clients over the years when approaching how to set up and organize playroom spaces. I know tackling kids’ spaces isn’t always exciting (and you would probably rather be doing hundreds of other things), but this is a place where you can get your kids involved in the process. Even the little ones can get involved by grouping like with like, creating labels, etc. Trust me, a little bit of incentivizing will be worth your sanity. Organization can then be show to your kids as not just a one time event but a way of life.
Here are my tried-and-true tips for creating a playroom (or any kids’ space for that matter) that's not only super-functional, but well-organized.
4 WAYS TO ORGANIZE YOUR PLAYROOM TO INSPIRE CREATIVITY
- Rotate out the options. Decision fatigue is real! When there are too many options to choose from it can be difficult to make a decision about what to do. Reduce the size of the selection on a regular basis so kids can narrow in on the current options and you can rotate in toys that may not get played with as often. This is also a great way to test out toys before they get donated – if your kid hasn’t been interested in playing with it after a certain amount of time, it may be a sign it’s not going to be played with and would be better suited on someone else’s toy shelf.
- Keep everything accessible. With kids, it’s important to lower your available height range. Limit yourself to storing options within their eye level and reach (or lower) so they can be accessed on their own and are front and center for their little hands. Reserve higher shelves for group and family games, activity kits or other choices that may require adult supervision or extra help.
- Categorize and display accordingly. Creating a home for everything – down to the ever growing collections – is key. Use small clear bins to keep categories contained and dedicate "zones" to encourage play and display for said categories.
- Weed out the clutter quarterly. Take time every couple of months to review what's being stored. Chances are your kids may no longer be attached to the headless doll or broken truck that they’ve buried at the bottom of the bin and the missing puzzle pieces that never turned up may be better off in the garbage bin. The same rule goes for books that may no longer be appropriate for their age or reading level, so make sure to sweep the bookshelves to identify options and clear out real estate.
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.