How to Stop Driving Yourself Crazy About Playroom Clutter

Your kids will enjoy rediscovering all their toys

How to Stop Driving Yourself Crazy About Playroom Clutter
Getty Images/Frank Rothe

In many homes, the words clutter and playroom go hand in hand.  Your playroom is so cluttered that there's no room for actual playing. Your kids end up taking games and toys to other rooms to use them, spreading the clutter as they go.  Or your playroom is a "Danger Zone." You can't enter in your bare feet for fear of stray (and sharp) matchbox cars, Legos or doll accessories.  The last time you pulled Chutes and Ladders off the shelf, five other games came crashing down on your head!.

If you frequently find yourself comforting a tearful child who has just discovered yet another favorite toy has been crushed in the clutter of the playroom there's hope. It's going to take a time commitment that you now feel compelled to keep because seeing your kids cry is hard to watch.  It's also going to take energy, persistence, and creativity.  

If you are tired of your children's toys exhausting your energy follow this plan over the weekend.  You'll start your work week with a smile and your kids will be excited about their toys again.

Play the Sorting Game With Your Kids

Many games for young children involve the concept of sorting and putting like items together. Apply this same technique to the clutter in your playroom. Organize the toys by sorting everything into the following categories:

  • Games and puzzles
  • Cars, trucks and trains
  • Dolls and doll accessories
  • Books
  • Arts and crafts supplies (coloring books, crayons, markers, paint, paper, etc.)
  • Make-believe centers (miniature kitchens, work benches, basketball hoops, etc.)
  • Miscellaneous

At this point, your kids are in awe of how many toys they have.  Then they'll feel the rush to play with their toys ruining all the work you did.  So, this would be a good time to take a snack break and get them away from the playroom.

Purge and Store Away

Now that you have a clear picture of everything in your playroom, reduce it by half.  Label five bins with each category above (except the make-believe centers).  Review all of the items in each category and select at least half of them to be put in storage. Place those items in the appropriate bins and store the bins elsewhere like the garage, basement or closet.  

Now you can periodically rotate these stored items with those you've left in the playroom.  You know those rainy Saturday mornings when you have no plans and your kids are driving you crazy?  That is the opportune time to bring some toys out of storage.  But if you add something to the play room, you must put something else back in storage.

Limit the make-believe centers to two or three. If you have additional items, put them in storage as well and rotate them periodically as well.

As for purging, keep an eye out for toys that your child has outgrown or no longer uses. Consider donating these items and remove them completely from both your playroom and your home.

Organize the Room

Evaluate the layout of your playroom and divide it into three or four zones such as the book, game, and puzzle zone, the doll zone, the planes, trains and automobile zone, and maybe the arts and crafts zone

Each zone should have some type of shelving unit to store the toys remaining in the playroom. You can find inexpensive plastic or wooden shelves at Target, Walmart or even your local Dollar Store. While there, look for bins or baskets that fit on the shelves.

Use the Picture-Perfect Plan

Cut out pictures of each toy or item that is staying in the playroom, and tape them to the front of the appropriate bin or basket. Every item in the playroom should be in a specific spot in one of the zones. The pictures will help children who can't read yet identify where items belong. Now, your children can help keep the playroom neat, organized and free of clutter.

T​he Daily Discipline Needed to Stay Clutter-Free

The key to eliminating clutter in the playroom is to stay on top of it on a daily basis. Make cleaning up the playroom a game.

 This can also go for cleaning any room in your house.

At the end of each day, set a timer for five minutes. Help your children put everything they've been playing with back in the appropriate place. As they get older, have them do it themselves while you supervise.

Once your children no longer need a playroom, the habits you've helped them establish will carry over to their bedrooms and ultimately to their homes.