The Empty Playroom Floor is Their Canvas

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playroom floor


My kids can turn a clean space into a disastrous danger zone in about 15 minutes flat.  Thankfully, they have also learned, by frequent practice, how to turn that same space back into neatness, in about the same amount of time.

I noticed a pattern, from when they were very small, that is still true now, as teenagers.  Clean, neat, organized, and empty spaces all breed play, creative play.  A playroom full of toys thrown about only seemed to bother mom and dad.  But, deep down, it bothered them too, because as soon as they had that clear floor, they seemed to have a million new ideas about how to play with their existing toys.  Toys they knew they had all along; the ones they had been ignoring.

Empty spaces breed creative ideas.  We often associate mess with creativity, but need a blank canvas before we paint a picture, a blank page before we write a story, and empty time to spend creating. Yes, either a mess, or a masterpiece follows, but neither can come when we don’t leave room for creating in our home and in our days.



Children practice creativity through play. The empty playroom floor is their canvas. Therefore, we need to teach them to pick up daily. I am not suggesting you obsess about the playroom being clean every moment; after all, they also need the freedom to paint their masterpiece. They need us to respect their construction projects.

If your kids don’t play with their toys, they probably have too many. If you just can’t stand the idea of getting rid of any of their toys, you can put some in storage bins and move them to a closet or garage shelving. Many children, especially when they are small, will engage more with their toys if they have fewer.

If you walk into their bedroom or playroom overwhelmed by the number of toys littering the floor, how do you think they feel? They can’t articulate it, but express it by not playing with their toys and not even wanting to be in that room.


Marla Szwast lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband and six children. She has written articles for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  She is the author of Stepping Through History: Starting With You!, and a semester long fifth grade science course. Both courses are published online at Schoolhouse Teachers membership website.  She writes about home schooling, child development, neuroscience, and the history of education on her blog at:, you can also follow her on Facebook @jumpintogenius, or Twitter @MarlaSzwast, or Medium.

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"Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6).