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> in which corners of the room? Should all the toys be stored together? Should there be a basket for dolls by the play kitchen? Should the Lego go in one giant bin, or in several smaller ones, where they can be sorted? Should board games be stored by the other toys, or near the coffee table, where they are more likely to be used?

Think hard about cleanup, and make it as easy and simple as possible. So easy the threeyear-old can do it, and so simple that it will make sense, with no explanation needed. Sort the toys into bins/boxes/shelves by kind, and make their contents identifiable. You could try transparent bins, or add labels with little illustrations of what goes inside. Or you could colour-code—Matchbox cars in the red bin, animals in the yellow bin. And don’t overfill them—leave some space so your kids can grab the toy they’re looking for without having to dump out the whole basket.

Then, consider age-appropriate access. Put the baby toys in a basket on the floor that can be discovered by an adventurous crawler. Put the Duplo within easy reach of the preschooler. Put the thousand-piece puzzles that your ten-year-old adores higher up, out of direct reach of curious toddlers.

Rotate the Toys Toys can easily overwhelm a child. No doubt you’ve seen a kid surrounded by blinking

'Don’t make all their toys available at once. Leave out some favorites and a few that haven’t gotten as much play as you expected, and put the rest in a box or two in a nearby closet'

lights, moving parts, and brightly coloured accessories looking entirely bored while announcing that there’s nothing to play with.

My advice? Don’t make all their toys available at once. Leave out some favourites and a few that haven’t gotten as much play as you expected, and put the rest in a box or two in a nearby closet. In a few weeks, switch out some of the toys. The Mr. Potato Head parts that were previously so boring will feel brand-new again, full of excitement and possibilities! Just keep switching things every few weeks, and when a new influx of toys arrives with a birthday or holiday, you can rotate them in as you migrate some older ones to the charity box.

A Happy Hideaway Never underestimate the power of a nook, no matter how tiny: a Harry Potter–esque space under the stairs, a table in a sunny corner of the basement, or a pile of pillows behind the sofa. Carving out a space just for your kids and no one else makes magic—part of being >

READ MORE This in an extract from Design Mom: How to Live with Kids: A Roomby-Room Guide by Gabrielle Stanley Blair (Artisan Books). Copyright C 2015.

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AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2015 www.thegreenparent.co.uk

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