Sunday, January 20, 2013

Organization Before and After: Kids Game Closet

I used to keep my kids games out of their reach at all times.  I did this for three reasons:  so they could not make a huge mess when they did not clean the game up after themselves, that the pieces would not be lost, and that they would not destroy the games.   In Japan, the games were on the top shelf of a closet and were stacked so high, I never felt like getting them down, because it ended up like a game of Tetris trying to get them back up.  In our new house, it started off the same way, but the closet wasn't as big and we had more games- they were everywhere and I just did not like it.
I started thinking about the fact that we did not play the games very often because they were tucked away and that the kids could not decide to play a game on their own because they couldn't reach them.  I realized that in the end, they are kids, they are going to wreck stuff, they are going to lose stuff, and yes, they are going to make messes.  I did not buy the games to look pretty on a shelf or to maintain their value so that I could sell them underpriced at a yard sale.  

For all you parents out there, something to really think about- how many toys/games do your kids have that you limit playing time with because they were really expensive and/or you don't want it destroyed. I ask you this:  "why bother buying it then".  In this case- who are you really buying the toys for?  The kids or you?  Buy things for the right reason- if it's expensive because it's durable, that's great, or because it's made with less chemically, cheap materials- fine- but just because you paid a lot of money for it is not a reason to not let them play.  Make smarter decisions when you buy stuff for them, that's what I've been doing.  I don't buy things I'm going to worry about, and I certainly stopped buying things that I wished I had had when I was a kid, hoping I'd relive some childhood dream.  
I decided I wanted to give my kids access to all the games, but I was stumped on how to do it.  I am not good at rotating stuff, so I did not want to even cross that bridge.  I searched a lot online and did not really find too much.  I ended up flipping through a Better Homes and Gardens Organization magazine last summer and seeing a picture of a shelf with the games placed vertically instead of horizontally.  I was sold!  I set up an IKEA expedit shelf that we already had in our coat closet.  I alphabetized the games and laid them in there.  I had a few that were too wide so I put them up top with the adult games.  There were a few too many, so I placed one  horizontally on top in a few of the compartments.  
On top of the shelf, I placed all the smaller boxed games.  I used a canvas bin to stack them to keep them from falling all over the place.  There is a bowl in front of the canvas bin for all the random pieces we find in the couch or on the floor after a game has been put away.  Every Friday, one of my kids gets the job of putting the pieces back in the appropriate game and making sure the games are all put away neatly.  
I try to enforce a rule of only one game out at a time per kid.  The littlest one is having a hard time with this, but in the end, she still has the responsibility of cleaning up the games she had out and it's easy enough for her to do.  My kids definitely play their games a lot more now and that makes me happy!

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