We adore our kids. We can’t resist showering them with toys and gifts. Nor can their grandparents. Nor can lots of other relatives and friends. And so, whether intended or not, kids these days end up possessing a lot of stuff. Gradually we notice our formerly lovely grown-up homes being taken over by games and toys, many of which have zillions of little pieces.
With a bit of organization, it’s possible to live in harmony with this kid stuff. Don’t be afraid to take back your living room – it does not have to involve a Grinch-like removal of toys. These three tips will help keep things neater without banishing all the fun from the living area.
1. Create a designated space for toys. In many homes, and especially those with younger children, there’s a lot of overlap between the kids’ play area and the family living space. And frankly, that’s part of the joy of having kids – playing with them (and with their cool toys) and seeing them explore, learn and grow through play.
So rather than banish toys from the living area, give kids and their toys their own space within it. Declare a kid zone in a corner or a part of the room. They’ll appreciate having their own space, too. Sure, they’ll end up playing all over the place. But at the end of the day, or whenever you decide it’s time, the toys all go back to the kid zone.
2. Make clean-up easy with good storage. The secret to keeping a neat home is for everything to have a place to ‘live’. (For example, the remote controls ‘live’ in the basket under the coffee table.) When you know where it lives, you know where to put it away and where to find it again. What works for adults also works for kids and their toys.
Ideally, the kid zone should have some storage where toys ‘live’ when not being played with. If necessary, invest in some kid-friendly bins or shelving. OTTO Storage Stools makes a great container for toys and other kid stuff. It is sturdy enough to sit on and light enough for kids to move themselves. The lid is easy for little fingers to open and close. The cut-out design is useful for seeing what’s inside, while the solid design gives a neater look. The range of colors will appeal to both kids and parents with an eye for style. And if you want the OTTOs (and their contents) out of the way for a while, they can easily be carried to another room.
The key is to involve the kids in creating the storage system with you so they’ll understand where everything goes and why putting things away is a good idea.
3. Give kids responsibility for their toys. Once you’ve established a kid zone and some toy storage units, the next step is to put the kids in charge of keeping it organized. That is not as crazy as it might sound. It may take a while for the pick-up-and-put-away habit to take hold (starting early helps), but given the chance and the right encouragement, kids will appreciate having a ‘job’ to do. Learning to take responsibility for their belongings is a life skill they’ll use forever. And a neater play area will make everyone in the household happier.
Pamela Small works from a home office as a copywriter, editor and translator of business communication. Having an organized, well-designed home and workspace keeps her both happy and productive.