(StatePoint) While all the gear, clothes and toys your kids possess are signs of a joyful childhood, keeping it all organized is essential for health, safety and even fun.
“Too many toy choices that are unorganized can make it difficult to find a toy to play with at all,” says Keri Wilmot, pediatric occupational therapist and an expert contributor to TheGeniusofPlay.org. “What’s more, the chaos can pose various safety hazards.”
Organization is more conducive to playtime, which is why Wilmot and The Genius of Play, an initiative whose mission is to raise awareness about the importance of play and help parents make it a critical part of raising kids, are offering eight tips to clean up the inevitable clutter:
• Provide Bins: Use bins to help kids organize toys, art supplies and games, keeping size in mind — the bigger the bin, the harder it is to locate specific toys or objects. While clear bins are great for closets by making it easy for kids to identify their contents, color-coded or decorative bins are more visually appealing options for the playroom.
• Make Smart Furniture Choices: Shelving lets children see what’s available to play with, however toys that require adult assistance are best stored in closed bins inside a cabinet or closet that’s inaccessible to kids. Closed cabinets have the added benefit of reducing the appearance of clutter. Make sure to secure shelves or furniture to the wall for safety so they can’t tip over.
• Rotate Toys: Rotating toys’ placement inside storage areas will remind kids of all the fun toys they have, and is an excellent boredom-prevention tool.
• Donate: Before holidays, birthdays or other occasions when kids are showered with gifts, talk to your child about what toys are no longer used, and give them a second life by passing them on to a neighbor or friend with a younger child or by donating them to a charitable organization. Throw away any toys that are broken, hazardous or recalled.
• Use Space Wisely: While big toys like kitchens and playhouses offer up fun, they can take up a lot of playroom real estate. Opt for alternatives that can be taken down when not in use, like pop-up tents, tunnels and playhouses.
• Schedule Clean-Up: Set a clean-up schedule that gives kids a role in sorting and putting items back into their correct places. Make a game of it by turning on tunes and seeing who’s the fastest.
• Get Toys off the Floor: Stepping on certain toys can be painful. A child-sized table offers a stable surface for building brick structures and other creations, plus it gets small toys off the floor.
• Use Walls: Maximize space and creativity by installing a whiteboard or chalkboard to use as an art surface. Walls are also a good place to store shelving for books.
Parents searching for more play ideas and expert tips like these can visit TheGeniusofPlay.org or follow @GeniusofPlay on Facebook and Instagram.