A little while back I spent the best part of three hours giving our playroom a proper sort out. A sort out that involved basically tipping everything out on the floor and starting again. One of those ‘sort outs’ where you regret ever starting. Thankfully, after three hours, we had a pristine playroom and I’m pleased to say the kids have managed to keep it reasonably tidy since (or at least clear up after themselves before bedtime!)
I shared a photo of our super tidy playroom on instagram where it got lots of love – I do plan to write a separate post sharing the details of our playroom soon, so watch out for that. In the mean time here’s my five rules of a playroom clear out . . .
The first rule of a playroom clear out is . . . Don’t talk about playroom clear outs . . . . In all serious though:
1. Don’t do it when the kids are there!
Anyone who has ever attempted to sort out a toy box in the company of their children will know exactly where I’m coming from. That box of cars that he hasn’t looked at in forever? Suddenly the most important toys he owns. The dressing up costume that hasn’t fit for months? No, it’s her favourite, you can’t possibly give it to someone else to play with. My advice? Wait till they’re in bed, do it in secret. 9 times out of 10 they will never notice. (Of course there will always be that one time where you’re asked “Where’s that flashing thing that I got on the front of that magazine 7 months ago? – for those times you will have to perfect your innocent “Oh, I’ve no idea” face!)
2. If it hasn’t got a head or it came from McDonalds . . . it goes.
This is a favourite rule of mine and I don’t really think it needs much explanation! I do a quick “sweep” fairly regularly looking for things which are broken or which are just naff plastic rubbish and sneak them into a bin bag. Who needs a plethora of broken toys or McDonald’s tat cluttering up their house?
3. If there’s a bit missing – get rid
With reasonable regularity I ask Ben to put jigsaws together to check for missing pieces. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting to the end of a jigsaw and realising there’s a piece or two missing. We do have a “lost pieces box” so that if we find a piece of a game or a jigsaw whilst tidying up, it can go into the “lost pieces box” for sorting out later. I’ve never really understood how pieces of games or jigsaws get lost – these are things which never leave the house (or indeed the playroom for the most part) yet they still end up with bits missing!
4. If they’ve out grown it – get it out.
This is something I find especially difficult as so many of their toys have sentimental value attached! Up until my most recent Playroom Clear Out we had two full boxes of baby and toddler toys which were just of no interest any more. I’ve cleared them out and sorted them into three piles – give away, store for grandchildren, keep for visitors. Although my own children have outgrown these toys, we do have lots of much younger children who come to visit so it does make sense to keep a selection of age appropriate toys for visitors, and I couldn’t resist packing away some of my favourites to keep for the future. My parents have very few of our old toys as we moved house so many times but the odd thing that they do have, my children have loved and I’m keen to be able to keep a selection of toys for my own grandchildren.
5. If they don’t play with it – lose it.
I know some people like to “cycle” the toys available to their children, and this is something I did when Ben was little – he had two boxes of toys, one which lived in the cupboard and one which was out to play with – and I used to swap them round every now and again to keep things fresh. Now they have loads of things and it doesn’t really work. I do keep an eye on what is and isn’t being played with and remove things accordingly. Sometimes I just hide it away for a few weeks to see if anyone notices before giving it away or storing it in the loft for a while. Of course some toys will fall in and out of favour over time and you do need to use your judgement on this – we have quite a collection of Happy Land toys which we’ve amassed over the last six years and they’ve been untouched in a box for months now, however during my Playroom Clear Out earlier this month they were rediscovered – Amy had never really played with them before and she’s now suddenly found a great joy in acting out little scenes with the people and their transport. What is particularly lovely is that Ben and Chloe are also enjoying playing with her.
Have you got any top tips for clearing out the playroom?!