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No Playroom Solutions – Functional Ideas for Small Houses!

If you’re living in a small home and don’t have a separate room for a play space, you just have to get creative. We have 5 kids and no play room. Adding onto our home isn’t in the budget, so we got creative and made space where there was none. With some creativity and determination, you can create a play space that functions for multiple kids of varying ages. These are the no playroom solutions that work for our family of seven:

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Embracing the Chaos

First things first, let’s embrace the chaos. 

Kids are naturally messy, and our playspace is their canvas for adventure. 

We’re not aiming for a showroom; we’re creating a space where creativity can run wild. 

Trust me, it’s the key to a happy playspace.

Please don’t think that I’m saying your sanity doesn’t matter.

Of course, having a more organized home without toys under your feet everywhere is the goal.

I’m just asking that we keep some perspective here because these childhoods are flying by.

Why a Well-Organized Playspace Matters

Now, I’m not talking about military precision here, but a bit of order goes a long way. 

Please hear this one bit of advice if you hear nothing else – having an organized playroom doesn’t mean it never gets messy.

It actually means the opposite.

Your space, whether it’s just the living room, a sunroom, or a corner of your kids bedroom will still look like a tornado hit it while they play.

A well-organized playspace to me means it’s easy to clean up.

Everything has a place.

I don’t want enough toys accessible to my kids that it takes us more than 5 minutes of effort to clean up.

Sometimes just a toy box that everything gets thrown into can work.

In my life with this many kids, I need something my youngest kids can clean up on their own.

A little planning can save you from tripping over toys.

When you have very little room, you can’t afford to have things out of place because they’ll take up the little space you DO have.

What to Do if You Don’t Have a Playroom!

Don’t stress about not having a massive play area. 

We are 7 people in 1401 square feet.

While in some places in the world, that is absolutely huge, in the US, it’s tiny for a family our size.

Think vertical – shelves, hooks, and wall storage are your new best friends. 

Utilize that wall space to keep the floor clear for playing.

If you contain all of the toys in organized, sometimes massive, bins – the little space you do have can function for multiple purposes.

What was an art area this morning can be an engineering space this afternoon filled with forts or huge block structures.

If you don’t have a separate playroom, you simply have to get creative.

Use the storage space you don’t even know you have (see below) and create specialized bins.

Sometimes you can rotate through these by taking them to a garage or storing them in the attic.

This is our toy rotation system that works in our house.

Corners and Crannies: Hidden Potential

Explore every nook and cranny. 

Those corners that seem forgotten? Turn them into cozy reading spots or mini play zones. 

You’d be surprised at the hidden potential in the seemingly overlooked spaces.

Is there space under seating to store shallow bins or even board games?

If you have a small space, you have to use every bit of it.

Even the tiny areas, we need to use for storage so we can maximize floor space.

A few examples in our home are that we store our whiteboard and wrestling mat behind our couch.

We have bins that slide under our daughters’ beds so they can store toys they hardly use.

We removed shelves in our daughter’s closet and removed the closet doors so we could slide their toy kitchen into the closet. 

It’s still accessible, but it’s out of the way and takes up what was previously just cluttered floor space in the closet.

Toy Declutter: What Stays and What Goes

Time for a little toy declutter.

For years, I kept what toys I spent money on or what I thought had Montessori value.

It was super hard for me to part with things that I thought my kids should be playing with.

When I stepped back and looked at the things they ACTUALLY used, I realized I needed to let go of my own expectations.

When you’re very attached to all of these toys, you need to realize you may be keeping them at the cost of your kids’ play time.

If there are toys all over the floor and it’s overwhelming for your kids, they’re going to play less efficiently and for less time.

We took 3 huge plastic bins of toys to our local Once Upon a Child to sell them and donated the rest.

Bins, Baskets, and Buckets

Now that we’ve identified the keepers, it’s time to discuss quick cleanup. 

Bins, baskets, and buckets are your secret weapons that we often misuse. 

Categorize toys – cars here, dolls there. 

It’s not just about tidying up; it’s creating an organized chaos that kids can easily navigate.

Especially if your kids are younger, broad categories are better.

Dolls instead of barbies in one, calico critters in another, doll house dolls and accessories in another.

The goal would be that with your help, your play space can be cleaned up in 5 minutes or less.

Any more and it isn’t nearly as likely to get done.

Montessori or Waldorf

I really love the Montessori philosophy, and while we’re not perfect, I try to use Montessori’s philosophies in our home.

We are going to start using an 8 cube organizer as our TV stand in our living room so our 15 month old can have Montessori shelves.

If you’re concerned about making Montessori work in your small space, let me reassure you that Montessori was passionate about using the materials already available to you.

Divide and Conquer: Creating Activity Zones

Designate specific areas for different activities – if you have the space. 

A craft corner, a reading nook, and a play zone.

We keep a few of our favorite books stacked on a very narrow shelf behind our couch.

We read together in the corner of our sectional almost every day.

Chaos, but organized chaos.

If you don’t have space for separate sections, make separate bins.

We have a massive amount of art supplies that are well-organized and accessible to our kids.

They can bring them to the table when creativity strikes.

When they want to build forts, they put away the art supplies (we often have to remind them to do this) and dig out the fort stuff.

Our dining room table is where we eat, do homeschool, science projects, art projects, and it acts as a doctor’s office for our baby dolls.

Personalized Corners for Each Kiddo

Our 2 girls share a room and our oldest 2 boys share a room.

My 9 year old can keep his legos save in half of the boys bedroom.

Our 5 year old artistic daughter can keep her art creations save in her bedroom.

While they may create in the small common area of our home, they can keep the things that are most important to them safe in their own space.

Just make sure each child has some sort of storage area that they can take ownership of.

It’s important that they feel their most important things can be kept safe from smaller hands, even when we’re living in a small home.

I try to really respect my older kids and their need for a life separate from their role as oldest siblings.

The Art of Labeled Storage

Labels aren’t just for cans; they’re for our sanity. 

Labeling bins and baskets adds a touch of order to the chaos. 

Kids can easily identify where the dinosaurs hang out versus where the building blocks party.

Be careful not to over-label.

This can be where your organization falls apart.

If your 3 year old can’t distinguish between all of the categories you’ve assigned to your bins, then you’ve wasted your time labeling and you still have ended up with a disorganized play space.

The Ever-Changing Playspace

Our playspace isn’t a one-time setup; it evolves with your kiddos. 

Embrace the change. 

Adapt the playspace as they discover new interests. 

It’s a canvas that evolves with their ever-changing imaginations.

Look into the unschooling concept called “strewing.”

Don’t be so caught up in keeping up with the same organization that you accidentally stifle your kids fun – and learning!

How to Do This for Free

I want to beg you here to set up your play space using as little money as possible.

I am so guilty of motivating myself by running to the store to buy storage totes that are obviously the solution to all of my problems.

Then I get them home and, with almost no plan, our daily lives aren’t improved by my new bins, but our bank account is a little bit lighter.

Instead, come up with a real plan that is realistic.

What would make the biggest difference in your home? Having an ottoman in your living room with hidden storage for toys? Taking the doors off a closet like we did so you can slide a big toy in there and make more floor space? Implement one thing at a time and refuse to accept when something doesn’t work. Tweak, move things, donate things, declutter! If I can do this, you can too!


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