The playroom. For most, it starts off like any other Pinterest board, with tons of DIY’s and cool wall decals to add. But, soon after we embark on this journey, an overwhelming air takes over and anxiety kicks in.
What we had expected and carefully curated in our boards, quickly becomes anything but the original idea we had envisioned. The bins we labeled as ¨Lego¨ have nothing more than beheaded Lego people and dust bunnies. The Barbies are now in the My Little Pony’s box; the trains are now in the Hot Wheels drawer, and just pure madness everywhere.
Whether the playroom is a separate room in your house or apartment, or a small nook inside your child’s room, it’s an important space for them. It’s where magical worlds get created and heroes conquer epic battles. But, this does not mean that actual physical mess and disaster should ensue.
Establish Clear Limits
As adults, we structure our drawers based on our needs and some even organize our closets, accordingly. This gives us a sense of peace and order. We know where everything goes and where to turn to when we have a certain piece of clothing in mind.
Similarly, children need their routine, too. So, a playroom should have its limits. Children respond well to them and, believe it or not, they need them to feel safe.
Limits covers a wide range of behaviors: setting a consistent storage system, having clear rules about playtime (preferably posting them in the wall) and taking care of the playroom, among others. The idea is to cultivate a love of play, while also teaching them about responsibility, which is why limit setting is crucial.
Out of sight – but, not quite
Everyone has different storage preferences. Some parents prefer drawers, other prefer bins, other prefer actual containers. But, all will agree that storage is fundamental.
This is important if your child’s bedroom and playroom is within the same space. When it’s playtime, the brain receives stimulation, which is great to boost imagination, but the brain needs to slowly regulate when bedtime approaches.
Sleep gets more difficult when there is visual or sensory overload. This is where the storage system has increased importance. Storing toys away, more than a rule, is a way the child understands that playtime is over. This simple, yet effective technique, is incredibly powerful to get the child to slow down and regulate from what, undoubtedly, was an exciting adventure to their imagination.
Categorize, alphabetize or simply, organize!
Whatever rocks your boat, it’s important to sort your child’s toys and label their categories. Not only does this give consistency to the playroom, but also provides structure. For children who don’t know how to read yet, you can print out images of these categories and put them outside the bins.
Organizing your child’s outer world helps to organize their inner world. This is why experts recommend implementing routines at home. Children respond better and are more emotionally regulated when they know what to expect. Of course, it’s impossible to have everything written down in stone at all times, but we should sieze the opportunities in which we can help them prepare and anticipate better.
Play is the natural language of the child, and it’s the main way in which they can organize and make sense of the world that surrounds them. Imagine the playroom as the arena in which they put into practice effective strategies to manage and relate with their environment. Let’s try to make this environment a playful, yet safe space where children can enrich their inner world.