Post written by Sherri Kruger. Follow me on Twitter.
If you have children then you know all too well that they come with toys. Many MANY toys. Those toys seem to multiply every week. Some toys are great they can spark imagination, creativity and a sense of wonder in little ones. They can help pass a rainy afternoon and even provide valuable insight into our child’s world.
Although these toys are good I don’t like the idea of them taking over the entire house. My solution: an area the kids could play in, store their toys and books, make a mess and not have to clean it up right away. If you are still fighting with messes, stepping on Lego, or tripping on trucks then perhaps these tips are worth a shot.
1. Blend it in. I wanted the kids area to be fun and bright to spark imagination and creativity but I did not want it to stand out like a sore thumb from the rest of the house. We chose subtle colors that complimented those we have throughout the rest of the house.
2. Make it inviting. There are ways to make the area inviting without making it too kiddie like. We have pictures of the boys on the walls using large frames. The play area is well lit so even on gloomy, overcast days it’s not a dreary place to be. There is a colorful play mat on the floor and it opens to the living-room and computer room so the kids don’t feel completely removed from the rest of us.
3. Limit the amount of furniture. Kids like a large open area to play in. Trucks need to be pushed around, mega blocks need to be stacked and forts need to be built. Our play area is in the basement at the base of the stairs. In their play area is a set of cube shelves we bought to store books and most of their toys. It’s tucked in the corner of the room so as not to take up much space. For Christmas we’ve added bean bag chairs to the boys lists and when they are a little bit older we’ll get a craft table of sorts so they can create their works of art.
4. Make it educational. It’s sometimes difficult to separate educational from boring. Along one wall of the play room we created an alphabet tree, it is fun, educational but still matches the overall feel of our home. We had large vinyl letters and numbers printed with an adhesive backing. We used the large letters as the trunk of a tree and the small letters as a branch. We painted on branches and leaves and placed the numbers throughout the branches. We hung a large clock with real numbers, not roman numerals, to teach the boys to count and tell time. We also painted a magnetic chalk board on another wall for them to draw on and play with their magnetic alphabet.
5. Limit the amount of toys. If you have a thousand and one toys for your children to play with try stashing some away for later. What I’ve found is the more toys my eldest son has access too the less he plays with any of them. He becomes overwhelmed with the choices and in the end chooses not to play with them at all. We have 2 plastic bins that we use to rotate through their toys. Every month or two we pull out the bins. The toys that were out now get stored and toys from storage are out to be played with. This has worked very well for our boys. With fewer toys to choose from their attention is held longer on the ones that are out and every couple of months it’s like getting brand new toys.
We have a very open home. Our kids are welcomed in every corner of it. We have no “kid-free zones” but at the same time I don’t want to have their toys take over every corner of the house. With a little planning, forethought and a lot of love we’ve created a space where our kids can be kids and we can enjoy the space too.