7 Hacks for Organizing Small Play Spaces

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We don’t have a playroom.

It’s not that we don’t want one, but we just don’t have any extra space. So, when I turned to Pinterest for some organization inspiration, I found gorgeous playrooms with walls of cube storage, big shelves with rainbow-sorted plastic bins, huge closets, sprawling bookshelves, and lots of things I just don’t have the room for.

Over the past year and a half, I’ve tried lots of things to make a play-friendly space, without our living spaces being overrun by blocks, crafts, dolls, and cars. With a busy toddler and a mobile baby, here are things keeping me sane and (somewhat) organized in our small play space.

7 hacks for organizing small play spaces

  • Create a Fun and Inviting Space

First things first, in order to help contain the mess that inevitably comes with play, create a fun space for your kids. Our play space is a 6’ x 6’ corner in our living room. We have a fun rug from Target, a small kid-sized table, and an open shelf to store the toys we’re using.

We also love cotton rope baskets to store stuffed animals and small baby toys. In addition to looking nice, they are soft and I don’t worry about them injuring anyone if thrown. They can also be a fun thing to play with on their own. Our baby loves to pull toys in and out of the basket and our toddler often uses them as beds for her dolls.

Some other ideas: pillows, lights, kid-friendly plants, pictures, art (even their own!) Make this space fun for you and your littles.

  • Use Your Walls

While you’re thinking about utilizing your space, don’t forget about your walls! You can add shelving for storage for books, art supplies, or additional toys.

We opted to use our extra wall space for a chalkboard and calendar. We use Command Velcro Strips to hang both of these, so we can easily bring them down. Our toddler likes to change the calendar each day and scribble on the chalkboard.

  • Rotate Toys

This is THE lifesaver for those of us without much space. Rotating toys not only helps decrease clutter but also renews your child’s excitement about a certain toy.

Best of all, it’s not hard to do. Here’s what this looks like for us:

  • We keep only a few toys on our shelf for play at a time. We store the rest of the toys in a garage using big Rubbermaid bins. We have one bin for our toddler toys and one for our baby toys. These aren’t organized in any other way, just a big bin of toys.
  • I try to rotate the toys every two weeks, or when I notice something is no longer being used. When possible, I also like to put different types of toys out (for example, a pretend toy, a building toy, a motor skill toy) to try to keep the kids engaged in different ways.
  • I also swap toys in the play area for toys in their rooms and vice versa. For us, the toys in their rooms don’t get played with as much, so bringing them into the play area gives them a new life too. I do this much less frequently, maybe every other month.

The key to success is: don’t overthink it. Sometimes, the same toys are out for weeks (we all have our favorites). Sometimes, my toddler will ask for a specific toy that isn’t in the rotation. The point of this is to maximize the play and minimize the number of toys out at a time.

  • Store Puzzles, Games, Activities for Quick Access

Now that we’re talking toys, I store puzzles, games, and activities separately. These types of activities are played with for a shorter amount of time, so it’s great to be able to grab a new puzzle or activity when we need it.

Each activity and all of its pieces are stored in their own plastic mesh bag inside of another big old Rubbermaid bin. I line them up, so they are easy to grab. The mesh bag is also nice and big and it’s easy to see what’s inside.

I also have a few shelves in a small closet dedicated to art supplies, musical instruments, and sensory bins. This makes it easy for me to grab what we need when we want to color, play with Play-dough, or run our hands through rice for 10 minutes. Having this accessible also makes it easy to put it away quickly too…you know, so you can minimize the crayons marks on the wall and the amount of rice you have to clean up off the floor.

  • Make DIY Labels

While we’re talking hacks, my favorite is the DIY Label. There’s just something about having everything labeled in the same way that makes everything feel more organized.

Here’s how:

  1. Write on a post-it.
  2. Use clear packing tape to stick this to your container of choice.
  3. Enjoy instant organization.
  • Clean Up Together

When we can, we try to clean up our play space together before bedtime. During this time, we have fun and focus on getting things off of the floor and back to their home on the toy shelf. My toddler even made up a song that we sing/shout while we’re cleaning: “Clean up our mess, clean up our mess.”

Sometimes things get crazy and it doesn’t always work out to pick up together. But for the most part, we’re showing our kids where things go and how to care for their space – and that’s a win for organization.

  • Keep Organizing

I believe “organization” is an ongoing process, not a state of being. As your kids change, your needs change. You might find something that worked before, isn’t quite right anymore. That’s okay!

Especially when you have a small space, organization happens all of the time. Here are a few little things you can do to help continue the process:

Not having a playroom, is no problem! It’s not easy, but you’ve got this!

What are your favorite organization tips?

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