In my opinion, a well organized daycare space can really affect your mood and efficiency. On the other hand, a disorganized daycare space can make even simple tasks more time consuming and frustrating. Check out my tried and true tips for arranging your daycare area. These changes can work for you no matter the size of your space. You can even make these changes if you share the daycare space with your family.
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Why You Need to Organize
Poorly organized daycare areas get messy quickly and create traffic issues. Fighting for space to play or move around invites tension. Stepping on or falling onto toys causes injuries. I also personally find it insanely frustrating to not be able to find something I’m searching for! Since I have this weird compulsion for efficiency, I can’t stand when disorganization wastes my time.
Organization expert Marie Kondo writes in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (which I definitely recommend, by the way),
Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.”
Basically, the reason you need to be more organized might be a little different for everyone. For me, I hate stepping over toys to get where I’m going. The “lifestyle I want most” (where daycare is concerned) is a calm day in daycare when things go according to plan. Sounds like a dream, right? But the point here is that you can’t focus on instilling cooperation when you’re busy stepping on Legos or teaching the alphabet when you can’t find your flash cards.
3 Easy Rules
#1. Separate toys by type of play.
Storing toys in various locations and sorting them according to the type of play they invoke is effective for a few reasons. First, children can easily find the tools they need to act out their play – storing plastic dishes next to the toy kitchen just makes sense. In the same way, creating storage near the kitchen area for a small table and chairs, dress up clothes, tools, shoes, hats, and baby dolls makes sense, too.
My play areas include: dramatic play, blocks/cars, library, table area (puzzles, art, manipulatives).
In addition, separate play areas makes clean up so much easier, at least in my opinion! I feel frustrated and the kids feel overwhelmed when toys get moved out of their areas all over the room. The kids can put the toys away much easier and faster when the toys belong to the same area. Which brings me to #2…
#2. Make (and enforce) boundaries for each play area.
Boundaries give kids a safe place to play without fear of interruption. A child is less likely to knock over a block tower with a stroller when these toys have separate play areas. Another child can relax in the library area without being run over by trucks. I’ve found that this can go a long way in my kids’ moods. Sometimes kids just need to play alone or with one friend. Boundaries provide the ability to separate kids for play purposes. I often ask kids to spend some time relaxing in the library area if they aren’t playing well with others.
I also know that the kids also find clean up less overwhelming when I enforce boundaries. With visual play areas, toys stay near their buckets and don’t get terribly mixed up.
#3. Get More Storage!
You will never have enough storage. It’s just a fact. I have daycare stuff shoved in crannies all over the house! Craft supplies, especially. First of all, get some short shelves that you can use to hold bins for various toys, and label each bin (with pictures and words) to help with clean up. Even the little kids can sort toys according to people, animals, blocks, and cars. Use those plastic shoeboxes or almost anything from the Dollar Tree for toy storage! Keep your eyes open for cheap furniture, drawers, shelves, and baskets because you can almost never have enough! I even save the plastic containers from my lunchmeat because they store nicely and are free!
I’m a big fan of buckets and pencil bags! I don’t like setting things on a shelf because it’s hard to get them to look nice and fit well. For small toys, I picked up a bunch of those $1 pencil bags that fit in binders. Puzzles and manipulatives fit in these so nicely without taking up much space. For bigger items, I love tossing things in buckets because it’s quick, easy, and it still looks nice.
You’ll organize your daycare space and still probably not have enough room. Marie Kondo (author of that book I quoted at the beginning of this post) has a rule about discarding items that don’t spark joy. However, so many daycare supplies spark joy for me! I think that’s okay – it’s actually a good thing to keep some toys and manipulatives out of sight. Then when it applies to a thematic unit or current toys get boring, you can easily switch them out and everything becomes exciting again!
So what do you think of these 3 rules? Do you have some of your own that I should know about? Please comment below and let me know!