A preschooler's bedroom is usually a bonafide conundrum.
Without some structure and organization, kids' busy bedrooms are apt to feel like Grand Central Station (and look about as clean).
But with a little forethought and a few well-crafted activity centers, you can have this busy place in order in a New York minute.
A functionally designed preschooler bedroom will make every day's whirl of activity easier to tame and more enjoyable for everyone. These bedroom ideas for preschoolers can help you create a room that works.
Preschoolers have a lot of stuff.
In my home, 3-year-old Daniel lays claim to a small but cozy bedroom filled with a Thomas the Tank Engine train collection and wooden tracks, a menageries of colorful plastic animals, cars and trucks of varying sizes, an airplane, and a helicopter or three.
Plus, the room needs to house a half-dozen shoes, and pants, shorts, T-shirts, and sweatshirts by the dozen.
Oh yes. Did I mention his jammies overload? About nine at last count.
You get the picture. It's a big load of stuff for a busy little guy. The problem?
As with just about every other preschooler, it's keeping all of Daniel's stuff together and accessible in his room without sacrificing floor visibility and some sense of organization.
Here's what to do: It all starts on the floor. For you, that is. That's it, squat down.
Getting down to your preschooler's eye level is a real eye-opener when it comes to considering how to get her important stuff organized.
Grownup stuff-holders aren't going to work here. Big chests of drawers are hard to reach and unsafe for little hands. Closet doors fold closed onto little feet. Big hangers can't fit small clothes.
And those standard closet clothing rods are nowhere near usable for my 3-year-old (or yours, either). They'd make a better jungle gym for him to play on than a place to hang or retrieve his clothes.
A few well-crafted activity centers can bring order to this busy place. Here's how:
Craft Central: Group a kid-size table and chairs, with splat mat beneath, and plastic tote with washable crayons, markers, and other supplies.
Play Station: Pick a corner nook, defined by a small area rug. (Preferably a washable area rug.) Leave big toys such as trucks or LEGO sets out and ready to tackle.
Dress-Up Area: Mom, this is where you can recycle some of the excess in your closet. Just fill a plastic bin with your old clothes and fallen-from-favor shoes, bangles, and bags.
Play with Mommy Place: Inaccessible closet shelves are perfect storage spaces for games and crafts that require a grownup's supervision. I do this to keep Daniel from beginning a chemistry experiment when I'm homework helper for his brother and sister.
As you know, sheets are tough for little ones. The top sheet always winds up at the foot of the bed. (Must be the sheet fairy at work again.) And making the bed? It's a tough skill for little hands to master.
This is the right age at which to eliminate troublesome items and keep things simple. Ditch the top sheet and use only a fitted sheet topped with a comforter.
You probably won't be able to bounce a quarter off it, but you won't have to make it yourself, either.
If you cover the comforter with a cozy flannel or cotton duvet, you can remove and wash it weekly. The goal is to create something easy for your little one to pull up on her own.
Don't give in to the temptation to push a preschooler's bed against the wall. That makes it harder for her to make the bed. Yes, it saves space and keeps her from falling out on one side. But consider using rails instead.
Pull the bed away from the wall and use it to visually divide the room into activity areas. Kids like things cozy.
Wherever you put the bed, you'll need either a bedside table or a shelf for bedtime essentials: a reading light, sippy cup for water, and books for bedtime stories.
In general, as you're designing and organizing a preschooler's bedroom, simple and sturdy are the keywords. All surfaces need to be easy to clean. That includes the floors. Carpets aren't the best for this messy age.
If you do have carpet, cover the center or high-traffic area with a washable area rug, a splat mat, or a plastic office-chair mat.
Hardwood is easier than carpet to wipe spills off of and is a great play surface for all those dinosaurs and trucks. Just add an area rug for softness and style.
Resist the urge to match everything in a preschooler's room. It's not necessary. As if this room is ever going to look like a designer showcase!
Because you'll be changing the decor before you know it, and because your little one will make sure that after a year the pieces are barely recognizable anyway, accept hand-me-downs.
Just make sure none of the painted finishes contain lead and that the corners aren't hard and sharp.
While we're talking about paint, keep in mind that walls should be washable. Best bets for kid-friendly finishes include an eggshell or satin paint on the walls and semi-gloss for doors and moldings. These finishes are formulated to withstand repeated cleanings better.
You can get creative with painting techniques. Check out removable borders, magnetic paint (paints that are magnetized), chalkboard paint (paints that create a chalkboard you can draw on), and glitter paint (paints with glitter mixed in make walls sparkle, no extra steps required).
Or try corkboard walls (it doubles as a soundproofer and a stuff-hanger).
Then build a theme. Avoid matching things. A room with the same print on the border, the sheets, and the curtains looks anything but relaxed and comfortable. Instead, choose a theme close to your kid's heart (or geographic location) that you can build on.
Think seashell sheers on the window, sailboat sheets, and a sand-colored area rug. Use your imagination.
Now that the big things are out of the way, I think the three biggest organizational challenges in preschoolers' rooms are toys, clothes, and artwork. Here are my suggestions for each.
Oh, toys. Many toys. These bedroom ideas for preschoolers toys can help keep these friendly faces from taking over the room. The key: Divide and label. Everything.
Since most preschoolers can't read, these won't be your file-folder labels. Instead, use something entirely different but equally control-inspiring: picture labels. Pictures of socks, shorts, shirts, and dinosaurs help your preschooler know where things go.
Color or tape pictures on every box, bin or bag of the items that go inside.
For example, I went online and found the Thomas the Tank Engine home page, printed it out, and taped it to Daniel's bin of Thomas toys.
Now he knows precisely which plastic tub to find and return his Thomas trains.
Here are some of my favorite ways to stash and display Daniel's bulky and hard-to-stash playtime favorites:
As I mentioned before, Daniel has a lot of clothes. Sometimes it seems like he has more clothes than I do! Here's how to keep kids' clothes neat:
Another challenge of organizing kids' rooms is the seemingly endless stream of artwork that arrives home with your son or daughter after preschool.
Artwork is a preschooler's (and his parents') pride and joy. Yes, we do eventually get over this syndrome of treating each and every finger painting as a Picasso. But in the meantime, if you don't have the heart to circular-file the art that comes home from preschool, here's how to display it without spending too much time or money in the process.
With these bedroom ideas for preschoolers, your child will actually be able to find what she's looking for - all-by-herself!