Why Playrooms Don't Really Work & How to Declutter with Kids
Updated: Sep 10, 2019
Let me start off saying that if you love having a playroom for you kids then carry on but if you are thinking about one or currently have one that you are not in love with, read on. When we had our daughter we lived in a modest 3 bedroom house. It was sufficient for us but once I got pregnant with my son, my husband felt it was time to move on. The extra bedroom we had for my son was in the front of the house and came off of the living room, it wasn't private at all. We knew that wasn't an issue now but it would be one day. So we started looking into bigger houses. When house hunting, I was really adamant about an extra small room for a playroom. In my dream world, this would be a place for all the toys, games and their desks. It would be a euphoric shared space and tidy.
We moved into a bigger home and I put together a nice playroom. It had a big book shelf with lots of different sized plastic totes and boxes with all the toys organized. It had two smaller bookshelves filled with books and each child had their own desk and chair to work on school or art projects. I hung twine and put clothespins on the twine as a place to display artwork and school work. We framed their art and found some cool posters to hang on the walls, as well. It looked really nice. Then reality set in. The playroom was never tidy. NEVER. I was always trying to reorganize it and fix it but the fix never remained. My children's bedrooms were always fairly tidy and we are just not a messy family so I couldn't figure out what was the issue with this space.
I then read Marie Kondo's books and she explains that organizing is really being the owner of your stuff. A child's bedroom is their room. They take ownership of their space. Now I was asking my children to manage two rooms, their bedroom and their playroom. It was too much space and stuff for them to realistically manage. I also realized that like most children in middle class families they had too much stuff. They had more than they needed or even wanted. Not all of this sparked joy.
So what did I do? We decluttered the Marie Kondo way. Each child went through their toys one by one and decided if it sparked joy. We donated bags and bags because my children just didn't want or need so much. We then put all of their toys into their bedrooms. The playroom remains a place of gathering and learning. We have their desks, all of the board games and their books. That is all. If we had another need for the playroom, I could easily move everything in the kid's bedrooms and it would be just fine.
I believe a playroom is not a mindful space. It is too chaotic. It is too much for children to manage and truly just becomes a dumping ground. It is better for children to have less items that they cherish than an overwhelming excess that they do not touch. Now that all of the toys are in the bedrooms, our children actually play more and it is easier to remind them to be tidy and for no one can point fingers on whose responsibility it is to clean up.
How to Declutter with Kids:
1. It is best if you declutter first if your children are under 6. Go through and get rid of the things you know they do not touch or that they have outgrown.
2. Declutter over a period time and do not rush the process.
3. Buy each child a nice keepsake box for little sentimental items they cherish or that you think they will like look back on in the future.
4. Go through clothes and shoes first. This is easier for kids because they can decide quickly if something is too small or too itchy to keep.
5. Take breaks and do not push the decluttering, keep it light and fun.
6. Let your child know you will be donating the items they decide to let go of to other children who need it or might like it more. This reassurance will help your children feel good about what they are doing.
7. Let your children give hugs or say goodbye to their items.
8. If you think that your children may regret what they have discarded, keep it for a month in the garage or another space and ask them to look it over before the final donation.
9. Make sure your children know that they do not have to keep gifts. Giving the gift makes the other person feel good and your child has already done the job of accepting the gift, this does not mean he or she has to keep it.
10. Lastly, help your child organize what they have left in a way that makes sense to them. If the organization makes sense and they take part in it, they are more likely to keep their items tidy.