It's always a good time to take stock, declutter and try to marshall some sense into your kid’s bedroom and the space you share. So, if you’re struggling to see the living room floor, or they can’t get into bed for softies, we’ve sorted our advice on how to combat toy takeover into twelve handy commandments. Marie Kondo, eat your heart out!
Use underbed & even undercot space to maximise storage & try to keep shelves at their level, so they're within reach for playtime & tidy time.
1. MIND YOUR LANGUAGE
When getting the kids to tidy, choose your words carefully. Professional organising coach Maeve Richmond points out that kids have a natural inclination to personify things: "So I say things like 'Do you want this item to live with you?' or 'Where should we give this a home?' when organising with them. One thing we all heard growing up was, 'Put that away!' - which feels so negative. Instead, try: 'Can we put that where it lives?'" You'll be amazed at how this clever language tweak reframes the task in a positive light.
2. GET DOWN LOW...
Don't forget to use underbed and even undercot space to maximise storage and try to keep shelves at their level, so they're within reach for playtime and for tidy time. Think flexibly: toys can double as storage too. Olli Ella's Luggy and Strolley are perfect for storing anything from their soft toys to their play food, but then take centre stage at playtime.
3. ...BUT ALSO AIM HIGH
Also don't be shy of putting stuff up high. An above-the-bed hammock is ideal for softies and the wall space above doors and windows is perfect for shelves for toys that are played with less often, or purely decorative items, styled with pictures and plants (real or fake).
4. MIX SOFT & HARD
To keep their bedroom or playspace looking inviting, rather than regimented, mix sturdier boxes and crates with softer bags, baskets and totes. Stackable crates like Aykasa's are great for keeping order without taking up acreage. In three different sizes and a riot of colours to complement your decor, you can fold them away when they're empty, too. For a more industrial, old-school look, Kids Depot's Metal Storage Boxes are really robust, with easy-access at the front and label windows too. To soften the overall look, we love coloured or decorated baskets and Play & Go's brilliant Storage Bags are always big sellers. They open up into a fun play mat, but gather up in a trice too - so they're ideal for storing wooden blocks, Lego or toy car collections.
5. GATHER INSPO
Why not get lost for an hour on Insta browsing #kidsbedroomstorage or #toystorage. Ditto with Pinterest. Once you've surfed a bit of inspo, who knows where your ideas will land?
6. BUILD & GO VINTAGE
Painted wooden boxes or wine crates, upcycled bits and pieces from your dad’s shed, even white plastic guttering can be wall mounted without too much DIY expertise to make unique storage units and display shelves. A bench seat with drawers underneath built into a bay window or alcove becomes a wonderful reading nook. If you don't fancy the fuss or expense of building-in, turn a chunky IKEA Kallax shelving unit on its side and put cushions on top, for a cheap but highly effective alternative. Here's a handy-to-know: Liewood's Elijah Storage Box With Lid fits perfectly in Kallax shelving.
Or, to bring in a retro vibe, stacked antique trunks - the kind you can easily find in a boot sale or charity shop - will add character and give you extra space for out-of-season clothes, blankets or bedding.
7. KEEP THEM MOTIVATED
Teaching kids to tidy as part of their daily routine is Very Good Parenting, but if it sounds like more of a chore than doing it yourself, why not game-ify the clear-up? Have them count to 10 as they pick up ten items to put away. Sing a song: ‘Spoonful Of Sugar’ from the famous tidy-up scene in the original Mary Poppins is always a winner and we found a great Tidy Up Rhumba on YouTube. Or, for comedy value, impersonate their Teddy commentating on their sorting skills and turn Tidy Time into an Olympic event.
Why not game-ify the clear-up? Have them count to 10 as they pick up ten items to put away. Sing a song. Get Teddy to commentate on their sorting skills.
8. CURATE THEIR ART
Picasso was famously prolific, producing nearly 150,000 artworks in his long life. But doesn't it sometimes feel like the average preschooler isn’t far behind? So don't feel guilty about having a clearout of their
random daubings amazing masterpieces. Instead, invest in a proper portfolio to store your fave pics, or use some plastic pockets and a lever arch file, or you could even scrapbook them. (Old skool!) If you fancy getting really creative with the best stuff, make a collage or mosaic in one big frame for a stunning centrepiece for their wall. There are even people on Etsy who will make a necklace from a piece of your kid's art. For the high-tech option, try digital art storage apps like Canvsly, Keepy or Artkive.
9. CREATE WONDERWALLS
Use hanging baskets like the Kids Depot Ewa Baskets on wall-mounted cabinet knobs or coat hooks or a coatrack to hang dress-ups, accessories and hats. This will free up more space in bins and drawers. Install a whiteboard or use paint to apply a chalkboard directly onto the wall to save space and promote creativity.
10. ROTATE THEIR TOYS
Our kids are overstimulated. Fact. And not just by a busy world and the screens that surround us, but even by the sheer amount of toys they have. (According to research, the average 10-year-old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 on a daily basis.) The answer? Toy rotation. It's been proven that decreasing the number of toys they have access to increases their ability to play independently and creatively, because they get deeper into what they're doing, playing longer and more inventively.
11. DONATE, PASS DOWN OR RESELL
Right before Christmas or in the run up to their birthday are both great times to have kids help decide which toys you’re going to pass down to a younger neighbour, friend or cousin or donate to your local charity shop, school, refuge or daycare. If you’d like to recoup some money for quality items in good condition, take great pictures, rebox them (if you still have the packaging) and post them on eBay, or take them to a car boot sale.
12. GO WITH THE FLOW
Finally, face the fact that life is full of give and take. Seasons change, small people grow, needs and tastes evolve. What we can achieve is only ever temporary, and orderliness is part of that ebb and flow. So some days will be tidier than others. You’ll probably need to rethink their space every year, at least. So try not to be too rigid, or set yourself (or your kids) unrealistic expectations. Congratulate everyone on that perfectly tidied room, but embrace the inevitability and value of disorder too. Family life is one beautiful mess, as they say!
So there you have it. We hope you'll find a bit of inspiration here. And remember, if you need any more guidance on storage solutions or anything else, our Live Chat Team is always here to help, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (but not bank holidays). Just hit that purple button, bottom right.