Thursday, 8 January 2015

Organising the Playroom - From Total Carnage to Neat and Tidy

Like many families, we have an ever increasing mountain of toys that we struggle to keep tidy.  We recently moved from London to Singapore.  Before we left London I took the opportunity to have a big clean out of toys that the girls no longer play with.  I managed to cull lots of toys, which went off to a charity sale.

We still had toys all over the house.  There was a play area in the lounge room, another one upstairs, and the girls both had loads of toys in their rooms.

In our new house we are lucky enough to have a basement room, which we decided to use as a playroom.  Since we have a dedicated playroom in the house, I decided to send all the toys there when we were unpacking.  After the movers had finished unpacking all the boxes, this is what it looked like.

Total and utter carnage!  I was still dealing with an entire four storey house full of chaos, so I left it like this for a few days.  After several days of feeling utterly overwhelmed by the chaos and mess, I had an inspiration for how to tackle it.  We started by setting out two plastic tarpaulins in the carport.  We then divided the tarpaulins into three sections and labelled them MUST KEEP, MAYBE, and DON'T NEED.

I then explained to the girls that we were going to take absolutely everything out of the playroom, and put it in piles in the carpark.  If they were absolutely certain they wanted to keep something, it went in the MUST KEEP pile.  If the were absolutely certain they didn't need something, it went in the DON'T NEED pile, and if they were not sure yet (or I was trying to convince them to get rid of something they wanted), it went in the MAYBE pile.

When we started there was lots going into the MUST KEEP and MAYBE piles, but after a while the kids were agreeing to get rid of toys.  About half-way through, both girls had had enough, and I sent them off to play while we finished.  By the end this is what the carport looked like.

We cleaned the room thoroughly and started with a blank slate.

We then brought all the toys from the MUST KEEP pile back inside and put it away neatly.  Once this was done we called the girls back downstairs.  We showed them how much space was left in the playroom.  They were then asked to go through the MAYBE pile and choose toys they really wanted to keep.  We slowly moved a few more things back into the playroom, and they also moved quite a few into the DON'T NEED pile.  After we had finished moving toys inside, this is what the carport looked like.  We had also consigned quite a lot of junk toys (odds and ends from Happy Meals, party bags, etc) and broken things to the bin.

I sent a message out to the other residents in the condo development where we live, and invited them to come and help themselves to any toys they wanted.  Before long we had got rid of everything.  I probably could have sold some of the larger items, but Singapore isn't a great place for selling secondhand.  I also wanted everything gone quickly, incase the girls started changing their minds and bringing things back inside.

So, after all that work, this is what the playroom looked like.

And here's the before and after picture.

It's incredible.  This is my favourite before and after picture.  That mountain of toys in the first picture was so completely depressing.  I just had no idea how I was ever going to sort it out.  By taking absolutely everything out of the room, and sorting it into those three piles, I was able to tackle the chaos in stages.  Involving the girls worked really well too.  I promised them I wouldn't throw anything away, and I would give them a chance to decide what to keep.   But at the same time I set limits - they could only keep what would reasonably fit in the room.  It's worth trying if you've got a similarly mammoth tidying task.

There's still some decorating to do (pictures to hang, baskets to label, etc), but for now I'm happy to call this task done.


  1. Looks great Hun you did an amazing job ! I wish my kids could be as helpful as yours lol ;) ..

    1. I've got to be honest Alina. They whined and complained about getting rid of things, but I gave them an ultimatum … either you help me get rid of stuff, or I'll do it while you're not here. That spurred them on!

  2. where are your shelves from? lovely!

    1. The white bookshelves are the Expedit range from IKEA. Unfortunately this has now been discontinued. They have replaced them with the Kallax range, which is quite similar. Personally I don't like any of the baskets they sell to fit in these units, but I found some lovely seagrass baskets at Target a few years back, and they fit perfectly.