Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year means new stuff

2011 is finally here.  I'm a glass half full kinda gal, so I see a new year as something that is ripe with possibilities.  I hope in the coming 12 months to be able to share more ideas to inspire parents to take the time to play every day.

But, before we can play... we have to organize.

As soon as the holidays end - I literally mean as soon as the last present is opened - I begin stressing about where to put the newly obtained items.  Do I get rid of some old toys?  Do I shift things around?  Don't we already have a toy like that?

I urge all parents out there to really ponder your playroom situation and make some changes before you bring the new toys in.  Your children will love you for it!  An organized space leads to organized ideas.  Organized ideas generate play that is easy to expand upon and garners further creativity.  It's a win-win for children and parents alike!  Here are some suggestions that will get you started:

1.  Clutter free is the way to be - Children play best in spaces that are well organized.  Before you even think of how to organize the items, go through and donate or store anything that your child has not played with in the last year.  And, I mean really played with.  Once or twice for a total of 5 minutes, doesn't count.

2.  Start a rotation - There's no need to display every toy you own in one space.  This isn't your grandmother's china.  As many new items as you are contributing, take the same amount out of the playroom.  This doesn't mean that your child won't ever play with these items again.  Rotate them back in when your child begins to tire of the new toys.  When toys are out of rotation, put them in a place that your child can get to them if they desire.  For example, you may want to rotate toys out of the playroom and onto your child's closet shelf.

3.  Out of sight - out of mind -   I can pretty much guarantee that the toys you take out of the play space will be forgotten very quickly.  Children tend to gravitate toward things that are in their line of vision.  Ever notice how your child plays mostly with the toys that are out of the toy chest?  Take this into consideration when you are organizing.  Piling a ton of toys in a basket or a toy chest doesn't assist your child when they are making decisions for their play.  Even if they come up with an idea of something to play with, chances are that if it's difficult to locate, they won't look for it for long.  They may also get frustrated.  Keep your child's favorite toys accessible and visible.

4.  Donate duplicates - Just because someone gave your son a garbage truck does not mean that he needs that he needs a fleet.  Donate the old or regift the new. 

5.  Organize according to theme - I love storage boxes.  I also love classification.  Use clear boxes to group toys together by theme.  This makes play so much easier for your children.  Not only do they have everything they need to play at their fingertips, but it also helps children who may have difficulty coming up with ideas to start or expand their play.  Play may also last longer when all the components are there and a child doesn't have to search high and low for a necessary piece.  Some themes that I enjoy are: Zoo animals, Farm animals, Police station, Fire station, Play food, Superheroes, Pirates, Barbies, Doctor, Dinosaurs, Trains, Cars, Construction vehicles... the list could go on and on.

6.  Clear a space - Always be sure to have a space delineated for play.  Whether it's a rug, a mat, or some open floor, keep the space clean and empty.  Encourage your child to bring their chosen toys to the open area to play.  If the play extends beyond that area, that's fine!  It's just that children may have an easier time getting started if they begin in a space where their toys aren't competing for room.

I hope these tips get your playroom organized so play can be even more fulfilling in 2011!

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