How to orgnaize a playroom with tips from a professional.
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8 Rookie Mistakes You Make When Setting Up A Playroom

Professional organizer shares the 8 mistakes parents make when setting up a playroom for their kids, and effective ways to fix those mistakes!

Are you struggling with the setup of your playroom? I’ve set up hundreds of playrooms over the years, and I’ve noticed a few common reasons why the playroom setup wasn’t working. The good news is that there are easy fixes! You just need to be aware of the potential missteps before you start creating a beautiful playroom for your kids!!

1. No Order in the Playroom Set Up

The first mistake I see parents make when setting up a playroom is that there is no order in the play space. When you step into a preschool or elementary classroom, there’s an order and system to the space. Kids thrive with those guidelines. Folders go here. Books go here. Dress up clothes go here. This allows your kiddos to work on their executive functioning skills like motor planning (first I will do this, then I will do that).

If there isn’t any order, kids will be unsure of what to play with. That always results in the famous “I’m bored.” They aren’t really bored, they just don’t know what to play with.

2. It’s Unclear Where Things Go

Another pitfall parents make is not defining spaces where things should go when it is time to clean up. Kids (and adults) just throw things in bins or under the couch and move on to the next activity. There’s no plan for the placement of items.

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3. Using Furniture Because It Was Free

This is a big one. Lots of people get hand-me-down furniture when they first start out. But as the kids start to get more and more toys, you need to be mindful of how you store the kids’ toys. For example, those tilted bins are my least favorite toy organizer because the bins always fall off the tilt and kids have a difficult time putting things back in. Instead, just line the floor with bins. It will make cleaning up much easier than using furniture that isn’t functional. When you are able, invest in functional toy storage.

4. Toys Stored All Over The House

Instead of storing toys in one area, sometimes parents store them all over the house. So when a kiddo wants to play with cars, they can’t find all of the cars because they’re stored in their bedroom, living room, playroom, basement, etc.

You can, however, store specific categories of toys around the house. For example, all cars can be stored together in one area while all trains are in another.

In fact, I recommend storing specific categories of toys in different areas of the house, especially when your kids are young. In our house, we have all the cars and trucks in our living room because there were hardwood floors, making it easier to play with them in that space. The play kitchen and play food are in our kitchen because the kids like playing while I cook.

5. All the Things Pushed Against Walls

Another problem parents have is shoving and pushing toys against the wall just so they can say that the space is clean. The problem with that is it makes it difficult for the kids to take the toys back out. Instead of creating space for all the toys, they’re just pushed into a corner. When planning your space, make sure you allow each oversized toy to have room for the kids to pull out and put away independently.

6. The Playroom Set Up Doesn’t Consider the Future

You know all those giant toys lined up against the wall?? Well, they go away once the kids get bigger. So instead of planning an entire playroom around oversized toys, think of the big picture. Those toys might be there for a few years but then they’re gone. I’ve seen some parents set up a playroom around the giant toys and when we take them away there is nothing left in the space because they set it up solely for those toys.

7. The Bins Aren’t the Right Size for the Toys

Probably my biggest pet peeve is not having bins that are the right size for your kids’ toys. I am talking about those bins that hold giant toys but end up collecting all the small toys at the bottom. Instead, find a variety of bins that fit the sizes of the different toy categories.

8. Kids’ Aren’t Held Responsible for Cleaning Up

Another mistake I see parents making is that their kids never clean up their stuff. Most of the time, it’s because the kids don’t know where things go or the playroom isn’t set up where they can access the toys independently. You need to set up a playroom that allows your kids the opportunity to clean up. 

The best ways to do this are by labeling with either words or pictures, having your kids help set up the space, and making all the bins at their height so they can take toys out independently.

How to Fix Your Playroom Set Up

So how can you fix these mistakes so they aren’t haunting your playroom? First, start by giving everything in the playroom a specific zone. All cars/trucks go in this location, while dolls and accessories go in another. This will help increase the order within your playroom and help define where things should go.

Find bins that are the appropriate size for your toy collection. By finding bins that are the right size for your items, you are reducing the likelihood of things getting misplaced. Because the bins are the correct size for the items, only those items will remain in that bin. Now, when kids put things away, there is always a chance that a loose item will get mixed up. But that’s way better than all the toys mixed together.

Plan the room for growth instead of what you have right now. Yes, your kiddos are toddlers now, but as they grow, they won’t have as many oversized toys. So find storage options that will grow with your family. You can do this by using my favorite, IKEA Kallax shelves. These shelves are really durable and will grow with your family. Plus you are able to keep all the toys at a level your kids can reach, and add more as the kids grow.

Make sure everything is labeled so your kiddos can put things away. With young kids, picture labels are going to be your best friend. As they get older, adding just text labels will be enough. But make sure all the things are labeled so they know where everything goes without having to ask you! Plus, this is really helpful if you have a nanny/housekeeper/cleaning lady putting away toys as well!

Still struggling with the actual design of the space? Not sure which are the best bins for your toys? Grab a copy of my playroom design plans. These plans include 3 different room setups that I have created over the past 6 years of professional organizing. I also included product lists of my favorite playroom items that I know will grow with your family. There is a step-by-step tutorial for how to set up each of the 3 room designs. Plus you get my custom labels!! These plans are perfect for anyone who loves to organize but needs help visualizing how to set things up.

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8 thoughts on “8 Rookie Mistakes You Make When Setting Up A Playroom”

  1. Add a clean up star board and every night when the room is clean they get a sticker. At the end of the week they get a treat or reward of some sort. Establishing chores and accountability is a great way to shape a little person!

    1. The Organized Mama

      Hi Kim! If a sticker board works for your child, then keep doing it. I don’t love sticker charts as it links cleaning up to a prize, which I feel creates more clutter. Instead I try to teach kids to respect their things so they want to clean up to keep their toys in good condition.

  2. Do you have a recommendation for picture labels? I have the Ikea shelving with the fabric bins and nothing sticks to them (or the kids peel them off). I’ve tried tieing laminated labels on, but again, toddlers are nothing if not resourceful and take those off too. I have a hard time finding labels, so not every bin had a label in the first place.

    1. The Organized Mama

      Hi Connie! If you have handles on your fabric bins, use a binder clip with pictures on the handle. If you have the IKEA bins, you can use iron-on vinyl to create silhouette labels!

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The Organized Mama is your ultimate resource for all things organizing with families in mind. Our mission is to share practical tips, tricks, and tutorials everyone in the family can follow!