Maximizing Your Kids’ Play Space

Setting up a good play space for your kids can mean many more hours of sanity each week.  When kids have a play space they can utilize and care for, it means that you – the parent – are not at the beck and call of your child each time they want to play.  After all, how frustrating is it to have your child eager to play, thinking you can get one or two things done around the house, only to find you’re being summoned every ten minutes to help get this item or that?  Not to mention the help needed cleaning up afterwards that makes you feel like you’re entering a tornado zone.

It doesn’t have to be this way if you set your child’s space up properly for them.  Here are a few tips and tricks to help make your child’s play space child-appropriate.

Put Things At Child-Level

If your child can’t reach it, they need to get you, and this means you have to be intricately involved in the play process.  Putting the toys that are safe for your child to be playing with at a level they can reach them means the child is in charge of their play which lets you off the hook and helps foster more independent play.  This also means that as your child ages, you can add more by “building up” as your child is able to reach more.  Of note, anything that is dangerous should not be at their level and of course, you should be there when they use it.

Toys Should Be Visible

If your child can’t see it, they won’t think of it.  Having a space where toys (and craft items like markers and paint, depending on the age) are visible means the child is more likely to reach out and play with things, avoiding the oft-heard complaint, “But there’s nothing to do!”  For kids, often it’s out of sight, out of mind, so the more you can leave things in sight, the more likely your child is to play with the items they see.  Additionally, the more open the toys are kept (like in a clear box), the easier it is to clean up and so you can have your child be more responsible for clean ups than they might otherwise be.

Rotate Toys

Kids can get sick of toys after a while.  This leads to the “But there’s nothing to do!” refrain as much as not seeing the toys.  Unless you’re super rich, you probably don’t have it in you to be buying new toys every month or so, so what do you do?  Rotate.  Split your kids’ toys into as many groupings as is feasible (for some families, it’s two groups, some four) and leave one group of toys out at a time.  Your child will, at some point, start losing interest in them and that’s when it’s time to take that set of toys away (which is also a good time to wash them) and bring out something new.  The joy here is that the time that the toys are hidden away leads the kids to forget about them (remember out of sight, out of mind?) and when they come out again, it’s like new toys all over again.

Always Have Craft Staples On Hand

The one area I wouldn’t rotate is with crafts.  Having a multitude of craft items out means a child can always get creative and that’s a good thing.  Between play doh, paint, markers, crayons, stickers, and so on, your child can do a ton and for most of it, you don’t need to be micromanaging.  After all, play should be fun for everyone.

By Tracy Cassels

February 15, 2016