Are your kids messy? Ok, ok, what kid ISN'T messy? (That's a much easier question!) I have found some things that work (for us) to keep the mess contained and fairly easy to pick up.
1. Have a plastic tub - you know, the BIG ones - and take unused (but still age-appropriate) toys and put them in the tub. Put the tub in an unknown location so that you can swap out with another set of unused toys in about 4-6 months.
2. Build what works. We are building a large, wooden shelving system to store toys in. It has plenty of space for the tall, bulky, awkward toys. And then it has space for bins for the small stuff. I realize that building your own isn't an option for everyone - if that's the case, look for something until you find something that fits your home rather than buying a new piece over and over.
3. Labels/Photos - For younger kids, take photos of what goes in each bin and use them as labels. I use a combination of photos AND words to label our bins.
4. If you are done playing with it, PUT IT AWAY! This really helps cut down on the time it takes to pick up, but it also creates more space to play.
5. Get rid of the toys that are no longer age-appropriate. If your kid can't/won't play with something because it's too "young" for them, donate those things to friends, family or charity!
6. Use a bookshelf for books - don't mix those treasures into your toys. They will just get bent and torn that way.
7. Only use the space you have. If you have a playroom, but the kids like to play in the living room, let them. BUT, make sure ALL toys go back to their place at the end of the day.
8. Clean out. Go back to #1. When you are sorting unused toys, this is the PERFECT time to divide toys into 4 piles - keep, toss, sell and donate.
9. Get the kids involved. They are more likely to keep a clean/organized space if they have a hand in cleaning up/out. Let them decide what they don't want anymore and where it should go (charity or garage sale).
10. Be flexible. It's a kids' space - there WILL be disorganization. Hopefully setting some limits and labels will help to keep it more organized that it was before.
In what ways do you and your family keep the play areas of your home organized?
I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hot Wheels® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.