It’s crazy-making to consider all the money you’ve spent on toys (more than you’d like to admit, if you’re anything like us) and then how little some of those toys get played with. But consider how your little feels when she goes in her playroom – toys all shoved in a giant chest, crayons buried in a drawer underneath who knows what, play table covered in crap. It’s the way you feel cooking in a kitchen with sticky counters and a sink full of dirty dishes. No wonder they constantly want new toys. Wouldn’t you want a new kitchen?
It doesn’t have to be that way!! Megan Schiller, founder of The Art Pantry, is a master at transforming uninspired play spaces into magical rooms or nooks kids love and USE. You send her photos of your sad playspace and your budget for new purchases, she uses her eye for design, serious organizing skills, and career in early childhood education to whip you up a custom floor plan, a Pinterest board of new purchases, and detailed instructions. Need proof it works? See before and after photos.
Here are 5 of Megan’s tips that you can do now to get your kids off the iPad and into the playroom.
#1: Design Matters
Design affects mood and productivity: What if every time you made dinner, you had to dig through a huge box of cooking tools to find a spatula? This same idea applies to children’s playrooms. When you create a space that is easily accessible, organized, and aesthetically pleasing, your child will feel at ease and ready to get to work.
#2: Keep It Simple
Kids get overwhelmed by too many choices. If you have a lot of toys, minimize what you have on display by storing away the excess, and rotate them in when your child seems bored – your toddler will likely think he just scored a new toy! And guess what? Less stuff in your play space means less to clean up.
#3: Bins, Bins, Bins
When you add up the cost of storage bins and other organizers, it can be surprisingly expensive. But when you see how much of a difference they make in organizing your space, they are well worth the investment. (And if you follow tip #2, you won’t need to purchase too many.) When shopping for storage bins, find containers that fit your space well and keep your supplies organized (Perch is brilliant for making art supplies accessible and neat). To create a soothing space, look for bins that are similar in color or material, so they don’t add too much visual clutter – toys, art supplies, and your child’s work already bring enough color.
#4: Don’t Forget Art!
Many parents shy away from having art supplies accessible because they’re afraid their child might wreak havoc on the walls or furniture. But children who are allowed to independently explore art materials will gain creative confidence and learn how to use them appropriately much faster than those who are restricted. So start small with toddler-friendly supplies like washable markers, crayons, stamps, stickers, and paper. As they get older, introduce new supplies like washable paints, play-dough, scissors, and tape.
#5: Set Up Invitations To Play
Encourage your child to play in new and intriguing ways by setting up “invitations to play,” otherwise known as prompts or provocations – this helps kids get focused and encourages new ways of exploring familiar materials. This is easier than it sounds! Here are a few examples:
- Set up a small block tower and place various building materials next to it so your kid can expand the scene.
- Set up a tea party with stuffed animals in a circle on the rug.
- Set out a few interesting materials on a table or tray for your little to explore.
- Set up the scenes while your child is asleep. He may be so excited to find them in the morning, that he’ll actually let you sleep in.
We said maybe.