When it comes to jobs we all love to hate, picking up the kids toys is right up there. In fact, according to a survey published earlier this year, picking up toys and clothes is the task most-hated by mums in the UK. One of the things that makes the constant toy clearing so annoying is the fact that dolls, balls, Lego bricks and colouring books seem to spread themselves across any surface in every room, especially the floors!
While it’s not an overnight solution, setting up a dedicated playroom or play area can help to concentrate the mess. It’s pretty handy to be able to shut the door on the mess now and again and by having a play area away from the children’s’ own rooms, they are in turn less likely to become untidy war zones.
Choosing a play area
Not everyone has the luxury of a spare room that can be entirely dedicated to play but that needn’t stop you working on mess limitation by creating a play zone. It’s often handy to be able to see or be near to the kids when they are playing so you can supervise if necessary, so you may want to set up a play corner in one of the rooms you use the most.
Depending on the age of your children you may even want to think about separating the space off. You might do this with standing screens or to keep light flowing through your home you could fit some bi-fold doors that are designed for this kind of purpose. This type of door allows you to open up the area when you choose but can also serve to block out noise when needed – all while allowing you to keep a careful eye on the kids as they play. Wherever you set up, make sure there’s plenty of designated storage so that toys have a chance of returning to their ‘proper place’.
Decorating a kids play area
Make the play area feel like the kids’ own by getting them involved in the decorating. If you’re donating a corner of the living room you probably won’t want to re-paint but if you’re working with a full room or even a sectioned off area, there may be the option to explore a particular theme.
It’s often tricky when decorating for kids to design something that won’t age quickly and become out dated for them as they grow. With this in mind, plan a project that will be easily updated or painted over in the future. Creating a mural or using block colours on the walls that can be easily painted over at a later date are options that are likely to be cheaper than papering. Try and make sensible flooring options too – perhaps a large rug might stop the carpet in the area getting too much wear and tear? If you do plump for a rug (which can be really comfy for kids) you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t slip around as this could cause accidents during playtime.
We are all aware of the little things we have to go around checking all the time when kids are around; sockets, having blind tidies out of the way that sort of thing. When the area is set up, you’ll need to think about risks at all levels from the floor upwards, even something doesn’t pose a risk to your child because of their age or height it may be that it could be a concern for a future visitor.
Tips for getting kids to tidy up
Some parents find that having an area of their own can incentivise kids to tidy up more often, though there’s always likely going to be some extra motivation required. The good news is that having chores is officially good for our children, so ‘keeping the play area’ tidy can go to the top of the list. A combination of begging and bartering can seem inevitable when it comes to getting kids to tidy up after themselves but there are a few tricks you can have up your sleeve to get them in the mood for moving things. With young children – having set storage places for certain toys can help you make a game of tidying – the challenge being to put things back in the ‘right’ place!
What’s your least favourite activity as a mum? Is it picking up toys or maybe doing the ironing? Do your little ones have a play area or do toys tend to scatter around the house? Do you have any tips for keeping things tidy or perhaps for persuading children to tidy up after themselves?