If you have been reading my reSPACEd blog for a while, you know that one of my specialties is organizing kids’ spaces. And one of the most common reasons I get hired to organize a kid space is because the parents are frustrated that their child will not play in the designated playroom.
Usually there is a pretty simple reason why the children will not play in the playroom — because they want to be near where Mom and Dad are. So if the playroom is not the area where Mom and Dad hang out, the kids will bring their toys into the room where Mom and Dad are hanging out (typically the living room or kitchen) and play with them there.
So sorry if you built this beautiful, state-of-the-art playroom in the basement or at the opposite end of the house. Your young child will probably not want to use it until he or she is older (like 8 or 9) and maybe not even then. You cannot force a person to stay and “have fun” in a room where they don’t want to be. It’s just not realistic.
But this is a good thing! It’s a good thing that your kids love you so much that they want to be near you!
Of course, you might be sick of living with toys constantly underfoot in the living room and/or kitchen, so here are 3 ideas for dealing with that situation:
1. Stash the toys in neutral-colored, grown-up-looking furniture such as baskets, lift-top ottomans and basket/canvas pull-out bins. For example, the KALLAX unit in the playroom image (above) can be moved into the living room and used for toy storage (below) at no additional cost to you. Put different categories of toys in each of the baskets in the KALLAX unit from Ikea. With the baskets, the whole unit is under $175.
2. Allow only certain kinds of toys in the living room. Maybe that means that all big plastic toys have to live elsewhere. Or maybe you don’t want to allow Legos in the living room. Set some limits that make sense to your family.
3. Institute a mandatory 10-minute clean-up time each night, concentrating on the toys. This time could be right before dinner or right after dinner. Set the timer for 10 minutes, then work alongside the children to see how many toys you can get put away before the timer goes off. Whichever kid puts away the most toys gets to pick the bedtime story you read aloud to them! Or something similar.
As a last resort, you could always put a comfy chair in the playroom and plop yourself down with your laptop or a good book while the children play.
How do you handle toys in your house? Do you try to contain everything in a playroom? Or have you found some great solutions to store toys in the more public rooms of the house? Let us know in the comments below.