Play Room: Play Space or Storage Space?

What Works? A Play Room or a Play Space at

I spoke to a lovely group of mothers last fall. One of the questions that came up really made me think.

It was about playrooms. And storing toys in them. (I can’t remember the question exactly.)

PLAYROOM! was at the top of my list when we were searching for a house.

We had three kids ages four and under, and I thought it was a Must Have.

I got my playroom, but I now realize I didn’t use it correctly in those first years.

I had big dreams. I set up a reading corner with a comfy cushion, blocked off by a bookshelf. I bought a handy-dandy IKEA unit that seemed perfect for keeping (lots and lots of) toys tidy.

I put an art easel and craft papers and all sorts of things in there to encourage creativity.

Day One was great. But at some point between Day Two and Day Umpteen, it turned into a toy storage room.

Or a toy ocean.

Or a toy abyss.

Every stray toy was (literally) thrown in there. Soon, we couldn’t find the reading corner because the whole room was knee-deep (literally) in stuff.


And it was no longer a play room. Because no one played in it.

Because they couldn’t.

I answered the question by saying that since I stopped storing toys in the playroom, it has stayed clean. And play-in-able.

Seriously. Since this post (written over three years ago) when I completely purged the playroom of piddly stuff and only left the big stuff like a play kitchen, table and chairs, and baby bed . . . it has stayed under control.

Because now . . . it is a play space.

A stage for pretending.

We do keep toys in the bedrooms, and we struggle to keep those rooms from becoming an abyss. But I know that the fewer toys we have, the easier it is.

And the more they play.




The Like It Shelf and the Love It Shelf

Organizing a Child's Room Bookshelves at

Do you recognize that bench/bookshelf? The one I “got rid of” almost two years ago.

I did remove it from its chronically-piled spot by the back door. It sat in the garage for a while, in my entryway for a while, and back in the garage.

I had the idea to put it in my daughter’s room. The main reason I don’t love it in other spots is that it’s small in scale.

So a few weeks ago, I decided to finally move it. My daughter was thrilled with the idea, even when I said that we would be removing her current bookshelf.

I explained how we would do this. Just like when the boys decluttered their bookshelf, she would choose her favorite books to put on the shelf first. Anything that didn’t fit couldn’t be kept.

That’s the “contain” er concept in action, people.

If she found another book she loved after the shelf was full, she would have to remove an already-chosen book to make room.

That’s the one-for-one rule in action, folks.

It went well. (Except that the shelves weren’t meant for books and wouldn’t allow most of her books to stand up . . . )

In fact, we went ahead and divided any books into a Like It Shelf and a Love It Shelf. This made the one-for-one rule even easier to follow when we came upon a forgotten favorite.

I believe I might make my own Like It and Love It Shelves somewhere.


A Container LightBulb Moment

I loved this picture and note that Angie shared on my Facebook page SOOO much that I just had to share it here!

container lightbulb moment at ASlobComesClean

Nony, I just had to share this with you and would like to thank you for introducing the concept of CONTAINER into my slob brain!

This is a picture of my son’s dresser.

All of the drawers are full and all of those clothes piled on top are no longer tormenting me since I now understand that I don’t have to over stuff as many shirts as I can into the dresser or find unused corners of his room to put too many pairs of underwear! The dresser is made for containing actually more clothes than he needs in the first place (he’s only 7 for crying out loud), so all of those extra clothes on top are getting donated!

When I asked her if I could share, she said:

Yes please use it! Also, see that bookshelf there to the left? I spent ALLLLL day yesterday making sure that this shelf actually CONTAINED the books that fit on it! I got rid of more than a half of a trash bag full of books that were stuffed in and around that thing. CONTAINER is making sense! I can’t believe it!

I’m so excited to see this life-changing concept in action!! Go Angie!!


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