Last night I gashed my foot open on a Lego. Even though the playroom is in good condition and it was just an unlucky step, it reminded me just how important it is to keep a handle on kids' rooms before they get a handle on YOU.
Kid clutter got you feeling a little claustrophobic?
Try these 5 tips to tame the madness:
- Should it be kept? - Wrestling with what to keep for little Johnny's posterity scrapbook (that you TOTALLY plan to start someday)? Here's the rule of thumb: if it represents his or her era, usual style at this age, or a special event you can all remember together, it's in the running. Only if it can stand the test of time (likely with your modifications) and display nicely, should you keep it. If it's a pile of rose petals that are already looking smashed and attracting ants, ditch them. Make a project of pressing some the next time, label, and laminate or preserve them in wax paper.
- Think: dual use - In a playroom or bedroom, instead of a traditional kids' table with legs and 4 chairs, consider installing an inexpensive shelf into a wall and tuck bean bags underneath it. Kids can use the shelf for eating or crafts while sitting on the bean bags, or longterm book or trophy display. Bean bags are also great sleepovers, movie-watching, travel, and versatile storage when not in use.
- Throw it UP and tie it DOWN - Think vertical in kids' rooms and get as much off the floor as possible. Stuffed animals can be hung from the ceiling in mesh bags, stackable organizers can safely pile those light items such as sticker collections, feathers and puff ball craft supplies, and markers. Remember to anchor shelves, organizers and anything that kids might climb with inexpensive hooks and anchors from the hardware store to prevent injury. Creative thought into shifting from horizontal storage to vertical can give you back valuable square footage. Tie down cords for gaming modules, TV's, laptops, and other modern toys create safety hazards and the illusion of a big mess even when there isn't one. Invest in inexpensive rip-ties, clips or bands to get the cords out of eyesight and out of tripping range. Lassoing in those wayward cords can yield lots of usable space you thought you lost.
- Repurpose - Did that favorite truck finally break? In your sweeping spring clean up as you find broken parts that your nostalgic little one doesn't want to purge, try making art from a few of the pieces that can be displayed. Broken wheels, dollhouse pieces, and random red and green crafts leftover from the holidays can be creatively fit into a diorama to give to Grandma for Mother's Day, or fit into a 3-D canvas painting for your family to enjoy for years to come. Don't forget that broken crayons can be stripped of their paper wrapping and melted down in silicon cupcake molds, and cooled to create fantastic rainbow-colored, shaped crayons.
- Lastly, but often as a last resort, donate it - Kids are often very attached to their special items. But throw in a special twist and magically giving seems so fun. Help them make a letter for the child that will receive their old toys. If you have time, include a photo of your little one or a photo of the family. Have your child write as much of the letter as they can, or draw a picture. Deliver the toys with your child and let them experience the closure and satisfaction of giving something they once loved. It will build character and a lasting memory that giving is worthwhile and fun.