Back in my single girl days my mantra was the Carrie Bradshaw quote, “I will never be the woman with the perfect hair, who can wear white and not spill on it.” That is still true, but modified to something like, “I will never be the mom with the perfect playroom, who has a label on every tub and adequate space to organize them.”
I want to be organized. I really do. I have friends (Lauren!) who are excellent at it. I am in awe of them. But I run into few challenges that make it hard.
1. I’ve never been organized. I’ve always lived a pleasantly cluttered life. Those of you who think this way understand. I had my piles and I knew what was in every pile. And that was my system. And it worked when I was just responsible for me. Now that I’ve got an entire family’s stuff to manage, this style is not effective.
2. Money. Tubs and organizers add up.
3. Time. It just takes time. Intense, focused time. And planning time to think. These are rare in my life these days.
Now, as you all know, we’ve been snowed in the past week and I literally haven’t left my house since Sunday. Hello Pinterest! I searched “toy organization” (another idea I got from Lauren). As I was reading I came across a concept that I really connected with: organizing for intentional play. The idea is that providing your children opportunities to play with categorized/related toys sparks creativity and imagination. It reminded me of the centers at my son’s preschool. In the chaos of our toy land, it can be hard for our children to play with clutter, missing pieces, and random tubs of toys.
I got to thinking about how I could apply this at home. I decided to start with one small project rather than tackle the infinity of toys we are blessed to have. Another mantra I’ve adopted is credited to Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, “Done is better than perfect.” It gets me motivated when I feel overwhelmed by the vastness of organizing an entire household. My project would be…..LEGOS. Our collection has grown and grown over the past three years. Until this morning it resided in a big tub like this:
This tub is made up of many random blocks and kits.
While my son loves to build towers and I love to help (and little sister loves to knock them down), there is the potential to build so much more. So I decided to try to break the big tub down into smaller containers. I thought if I could organize them we would be able to play with more intention. We could build the projects on the boxes rather than just stacking. Also, less blocks at a time means easier clean up. And easier clean up means less Legos left out for parents to step on.
I had an old cart I’ve had since college that wasn’t serving much purpose. Save money and recycle? Yes! A little cleaning and I was ready to start.
I broke the Legos into categories: trains, windows and bases, pirates, numbers/letters, building. The blue bin is extra pieces like animals, people, and cars. Surprisingly, the Bear really enjoyed helping me sort- bonus!
Got out the trusty label-maker. (This is my favorite part!).
Only 4 drawers means we needed a tub for the pirates (thanks Itzie). I had some leftovers that wouldn’t fit. So I used my favorite inexpensive organizing tool- a big Ziploc bag.
I tucked it away in the toy closet. We have to keep some of our toys out of sight because my kids (developmentally appropriate) love to dump out EVERYTHING. It’s a real challenge for us right now. We want to encourage the kids to play, but it gets out of hand in minutes….actually seconds. They can dump out 5 tubs full of toys in about 60 seconds. It’s probably a world record!
The Bear had a great time playing with his trains today. And the clean up tonight was so quick and simple. I wish I could say he had so much fun playing he fell asleep on the floor, but this was just a candid shot I had to share.
PLEASE share your ideas with us! I’d love your ideas on organizing and facilitating intentional play.