Saturday, January 16, 2016

Why your playroom organisation isn't working

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I'm not much of a Pinterest-er. My account got locked a couple of years ago as a precaution because of 'suspicious activity' and I can't unlock it because the 'confirm email address' email never arrives. So I haven't pinned anything for years but I still have the odd browse every so often. 

The thing I've noticed is that when Pinterest first started, it was inspiring. It was a collection of fairly practical and clever ideas that were achievable, if we ever bothered to try. Nowadays it's just next level. Beautiful but staged, faked, made-by-professionals, promotional. The clever, achievable ideas were overshared and became old news before we even had a chance to get down to the hardware store and buy the bolts to install pot lid holders inside our cupboard doors and an extendable rod to store our spray bottles on. The pins du jour are things we know our friends haven't attempted, and we'll probably never attempt, but we enjoy drooling over anyway (lavender meringue icecream cake, I'm looking at you!) 

So what is the point of my little Pinterest rant? Well, increasingly the things we pin are unrealistic BUT also increasingly, when we search for something online, we end up with a result from Pinterest. If, for example, you google toyroom organisation, you'll likely get multiple Pinterest boards full of images of playrooms with carefully labeled bins, Lego sorted by colour, neatly arranged teasets, dolls tucked into cradles, dress ups hanging by size, books precariously placed on narrow shelves, etc. 

If you ask any order-loving parent, this is their dream playroom! The problem is, the playroom isn't for them. 


Kids see things differently. We might group Duplo Lego blocks and wooden blocks together, because they're both construction materials. My kids think wooden blocks go with little animal figurines because they use the blocks to build the walls of their zoo. Duplo makes cakes, so it goes with the teaset. Plastic beds share space in the wooden dollhouse with wooden beds and wooden dolls. And the 'baby' dolls don't have a home, they're constantly perched on hips, wrapped in towels, sat at the table, tucked into beds (ranging from actual beds to laundry piles). 

Now, the wooden blocks don't actually get jumbled in with the animals, but they're near each other. And we don't sub-categorise, loosely grouped is good enough. Alllllllll the colours of the Lego rainbow co-exist happily in our Lego tub. The system makes sense to our kids and so they can find toys easily and put them away easily. If I expected them to follow some kind of Pinterest vision, I may as well expect them to sort the toys according to the Periodic table. 

If your children are struggling to keep their toys (or other things) organised, talk to them and use their input to improve the organisation. You might find they don't care if the barbies, hot wheels and digipets are jumbled in the same tub. Plus, in addition to making clean up easier, it may stir their imagination. They may go to play with a digipet but see the hotwheels and decide to draw a giant race track, for example. 


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