Wednesday, May 29, 2019

The Kids' Shared Playroom, part of my Massive Memorial Day Organizational Palooza (Part 2)

For the full weekend's schedule and links to the other parts, see Part 1.

Overview, the After Photos

Area by Area


for art supplies, boardgames and puzzles
Containers, various sizes

I had all of my containers handy, Marie-Kondo style, in order to be able to pick the correct size for each thing. I would "try on" a couple of different sizes for each thing.
Kids' art supplies, pre-organization
My goal was to keep all of their art supplies in one room. Previously, there were some in the entryway closet, some downstairs in the gaming area, and some on top of my dresser.
Top shelf
Items that required adult supervision - like puzzles and boardgames with easy-to-loose pieces - were placed on the top of the closet. The yellow folder containers Lego instruction manuals. The blue container holds a children's sewing kit. The clear large container holds colored construction paper and keeps it safe from moisture or getting bent.

Excess items were also placed on the top shelf: crayons, and Play Doh.

My goal was to put the items that need adult supervision up higher - the higher up they are stowed, the more adult supervision is needed (read as: the kids can create a big mess without an adult). The lower down in the closet organizers you go, the more the kids can just go wild with the items.
Hanging closet organizers
I need to find a better labeling solution, but you get the idea:
  • Left organizer, from top: glue, sidewalk chalk, watercolors, crayons and coloring books.
  • Right organizer, from top: acrylic paint and workbooks (needs adult supervision), markers, aprons, Play Doh implements, and Play Doh.
An odd-shaped closer for sure
This closet is an odd shape because it has stairs below it. So, you can kind of tell in this photo, but there isn't much floor space on the bottom - only five or so inches (just enough for their beach toys basket).
Midway Play Doh organization
The Play Doh tools in the plastic bag are going to be sequestered in the attic. If the kids ask for them, then the items can be traded back: they give me an item to go into the attic in exchange for an item to come back out of the attic.

The problem with the solution above is:
  • That's too much Play Doh for the kids to drag to the dining table at once - it's heavy even for me to lift. They are only allowed to play with Play Doh on the dining table because it has a tendency to get stuck to everything, like carpets and furniture.
What was my solution?
  • Use a small bin for Play Doh in active rotation, and when it becomes dried and needs to be tossed, then I can grab some for this excess, to be stored on the top shelf until needed.
Post-organization Play Doh

Crayons and drawing implements
So, for some reason, the kids had what seemed like 1,000 crayons. I think it's because they're easy to get (go to any restaurant and they'll give your kids some). I put a normal amount of crayons in a quart-sized Ziploc bag along with some other drawing tools (pencils, erasers, etc.) where the kids can easily reach them, and put the excess on the top shelf.


for books by category, and some toys

Orange and pink labels

Green labels
I used colored labels to divide the books by categories:
  • Non-fiction (fat green labels)
    • Nature, animals, science
  • Stories (fat orange labels)
    • Perfect for bedtime - think "The Cat in the Hat"
  • Christmas Stories (red dots)
    • Most of these are fictional, and while I could keep them in the attic, my oldest child likes to read them at any time of the year
  • Bible Stories (green dots)
  • Perfect-to-share-with-a-baby (fat pink labels)
    • I hesitate to call these "baby books" or "girl books" because my three-year-old son likes some of these books too
Picture labels
Tilted so I can fit in more
Make it seem intentional
 As you may have noticed, this is actually two vertical bookcases turned sideways and stacked. The foot parts of the bookcases looked awkward, but they're the perfect shape for my son's bow and arrow set.
Toys and books
Zoomed out


for balls and stuffed animals

Stuffed toys
Balls and soccer cones

Bulky Items

from Zords to a Doctor Kit

Cleared-off top
Previously, I'd kept their Zords on top of this piece of furniture, but I now think it looks cleaner to store them inside (except for the largest one which doesn't fit).
I actually tested three different containers to find one that was the best size.

I put a few of their Transformers into the attic. Just like with their Play Doh tools, if they ask for something back, I will get it from the attic in exchange for putting something else into the attic to take its place. Some people call this a "toy rotation." Once my kids outgrow their toys, I'm planning to donate most of them, but save a few either for sentimental reasons or in case I host visitors with children.
Piggy banks
I used to store books on these ledges, but the children couldn't reach them easily, and I'd always forget that they were there when I'd go into the room to get a book for storytime. I ordered a few prints from Etsy that I plan to frame and put here later.
Zoomed out

Handyman Area

workbenches, anyone?

Two workbenches
This Easter, the boys' grandfather generously gave them each a workbench. The problem is that my oldest son is already a bit old for these toys (he's too tall), and isn't very interested in tools. Plus, these workbenches take up a lot of physical space. Since we used to have a similar item and donated it, I'm not sure how long we will continue to own and display these. A wise friend of mine limits her children's toys to those that represent a current interest - in her case, her daughter loves baby dolls and has quite a few, even though the total number of toys she has is very manageable. In my friend's case, toys that don't represent one of the child's current interests are frequently offloaded. I didn't realize that Easter had become a gift-giving holiday - for prior years, the boys would only receive candy from their grandfather. I will try to remember to touch base with him before next Easter so that if an item arrives, it makes sense for our specific kids and home.

Speaking of these workbenches, although I used to store the tools on the built-in hooks, I think it looks neater with all of the tools put away each day, plus part of the fun for the kids is to arrange their workbenches and hang up their tools each time.

Baby-friendly Area

look, Baby, it's all your stuff

Right inside the door

Some items in the toy room are not baby-friendly. So, I put my baby's toys in the very beginning of the room, to hopefully attract her attention and steer her away from the toys that are not meant for her. Of course this is not meant to be a replacement for adult supervision.

The Baby’s Toys Dresser

a good fit for a great dresser

We have a dresser in our living room that serves to hold some of the baby's toys and also to direct foot traffic around our wall-mounted TV.

The bottom drawer serves as a doll bed
Although I would love to have a proper baby doll bed for these dolls (which were also Easter gifts from the kids' grandfather), I would rather save money and space by doing this.
A drawer of the baby's toys, unsorted
Overly sorted toys
Normally, I think the more organizers, the better, but in this case, adding a small square-shaped organizer actually made the space look more cluttered and disorganized to my eye.
The winning solution

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