A big thanks to Kelly Kaplan from Wiggle Room: Organization for Busy Moms, for this great guest post! I couldn’t resist adding a few pictures of my own :)
As a former early childhood educator, I’m amazed how often I borrow strategies we used in the classroom to help Moms get a handle on their overwhelming play spaces at home. Teachers everywhere are totally outnumbered by their students, so it’s a constant battle to keep the chaos at bay, and maintain order in the classroom. Moms at home often have the numbers more in their favor, but can just as easily struggle with the daily negotiations of life with their little ones. With that in mind, here are 5 takeaways from the classroom that might help bring some order to a playroom overwhelmed…
Define Specific Areas of Play
Even in a small playroom, there are 4 corners to target. Setting up a cozy nook for quiet time activities or reading before a nap, or while a sibling is sleeping is a great way to give kids that much needed down time.
At school, kids embrace clean up as part of their regular routine. While “the clean up” song is great first step, a system that works for little ones is critical too. Clear bins are step one, and Moms are often blow away by how easy cleanup becomes when kids are empowered to play along…
Everything in the classroom is labeled for literacy development, but with kids at different reading levels, pictures are also used to help everyone grow. The same can easily be done at home. Dust off the camera and take pictures of the toys that belong in each bin, or even better yet, have those little ones decorate each bin with their own pictures of what goes inside!
Sadly, almost all preschools need more toys & supplies. One of the better ways they’re able to achieve this is through constantly rotating toys through classrooms, so the kids always seem to have something “new” to play with. Moms at home can do the same by swapping with their friends, or simply removing some of the toys periodically, and then reintroducing them a few weeks later.
A child’s mind is a place of constant wonder and stimuli. Do they really need all the toys they’ve acquired over the years, at the same time? Reduce the potential for clutter by removing some of the extra “stuff”, especially those toys that they have grown out of. Donate, sell, store or loan out those extra toys.
One final tip from the classroom, Moms- if you find yourself losing the battle one day, take a deep breath & cut yourself some slack. There’s always tomorrow!