I mentioned the other day that I’m a fan of decluttering. I also have a serious guilty pleasure; boxes (I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE boxes!), but also includes to shelves to put them in/on! So Ikea is my heaven on earth. I can spend a whole day in there, especially as I love the meatballs, yum.
Becoming a mum, and trying to find a way for my highly interactive boy to keep himself occupied while Little Dimples needs my attention, has given me the perfect excuse to throughly enjoy my secret guilty pleasure. Plus it works for him, and makes it easy to remember what he has got and find what he needs. Even I need reminding sometimes when I’m knackered and am trying to think of something to do with him or to occupy him with for a while.
Ok, so there have been numerous conversations about putting things in the right box and only emptying one box of toys at a time. But luckily for me, he is quite similar to me, so it’s not really a problem for him, maybe more so for the hairy northern husband, who tries to limit me to 1 trip to ikea every other year.
Here are my tips to making a playroom work for you and the kids, and to cutting out the stress of having toys all over the place and kids who say they have nothing to do. The key to success seems to be:
1) Have different areas with similar types of activity e.g. mental, imaginative, creative, quiet, loud, outside, small space, big space. So puzzles and games are together, and stuff when you know you need to mentally stretch or quieten them are together. Outdoor things are high up for me, so they aren’t played with inside, but are easy to find.
2) Make it really easy for them, to sort out themselves and find things, by leaving lots of space in the boxes, so they aren’t too heavy to carry, and easy to fill. It needs to make sense to them, so watch how they play and how they combine the toys to see where the boxes go, and which ones they are near. It’s like a workflow analysis for the home!
3) Look at the height of where you put things. Anything that is delicate or you don’t trust their friends with, or that needs you goes high up. That includes swords in my house!
4) Find a way to remind them of what they have got. I like doors on the bottom shelves so that the worst mess is hidden away. But open shelves are good for higher up, so they can see what’s on offer. Plus I quite like seeing toys, it doesn’t bother me that they are seeable. But you could also have pictures on the doors or the boxes to remind them.
5) Keep it flexible so that you can adjust your needs as they grow up. This is where good old ikea (I think my cupboards are called Besta) with it’s movable doors and shelves are so great. One of my cupboards is on wheels and is shorter as well, so that it can change which wall it is against.
6) Be consistent with your rules, but make it fun. We do a quick tidy most nights, but have one ‘proper’ tidy the day the cleaners come (that’s when I clear the surfaces of the play table and allow myself full OCD freedom). Music makes tidying a hell of a lot easier, or a treat after.
7) Have a rule about how many boxes to play with at a time, otherwise all the cupboards and boxes will be emptied at once. I promise that eventually they will learn the rule, but at first you might need to be there or help them with gentle reminders. We have the ‘one box at a time rule’, which is a box each when we have friends around. Some visiting kids have needed some help adjusting to this, as a couple take great enjoyment in emptying EVERY box in the whole play area, but mostly it works well, and my ‘scary look’ has worked to ensure they only do it once ;o)
Overall, it’s got to work for you, and work for the kids; then its a real winner. I don’t mind seeing toys, but I do get hassled when a boy with plenty of toys complains that there is nothing to do, or can’t find his favourite things. Plus I need to feel space around me, so if the toys were just all out on the floor or bulging out of open boxes, all at the same time, I would go nuts. So you need to work out what your key stresses are and what your kids would like.
Let me know if this helps at all, and if you ever need someone to go to Ikea with, you know who to call!
(This is not a sponsored post, but if ikea would like to send me some meatballs with that lovely sauce, or some dime bars, I’m totally open to it, and will happily post more in return for some of the coloured boxes with numbers, or Children’s hangers, or the cream boxes. I am very bribable!).