“Why are your ‘dishes’ all over the floor! If any of them get broken, they’ll be in the trash!”

“If I step on one more Lego, they’re gone!”

“If you don’t find all of the pieces to that puzzle, I’m throwing it out!”

“Why are there books all over the floor? If you can’t take care of them, I’m taking them away!”

“I thought I told you to clean up the toys–not throw them in the closet! If you don’t care about them, neither do I–they’re gone!”

Parents all over the world are having “conversations” with their children that sound a lot like these. Why are toy rooms notoriously messy? Why do parents stress and kids not seem to care? It can be a frustrating point of contention in any home with children. The best way to bring harmony back into your home is to organize your toy room before you break your kids’ hearts and get rid of everything.

Here are four of the best tips to organise your toy room:

  1. Keep toys off the floor.

Not much makes you want to get rid of toys more than tripping over play dishes and dolls and blocks or stepping on hard, tiny objects that send pain through your whole body (legos and action figures are the biggest culprits). So how can you get everything off of the floor and save your feet and your sanity? There are several commercial solutions and DIY projects to help you keep the floor clear.

One of the best is to invest in or build a lego table. Not only do these tables provide a perfect storage place, but they also provide the perfect building spot for intricate lego projects that might take some time. Kids can leave their projects intact without leaving a mess on the playroom floor. Investing in storage cubbies with pull-out baskets is also a great way to keep toys off the floor and easily accessible to kids. IKEA and Walmart both have great cubby units that come in different sizes, colors and configurations.

  1. Create designated spaces for different types of play.

If you can keep toys separated, it’s much easier to stay organized. By creating individual spaces for different types of play, your children will be able to play without dumping everything out just to look for one of their favorite Dragon Ball heroes figures or their favorite baby doll. Make a separate action figure areas, reading areas, art areas, lego areas, or “kitchen” areas. Be creative. Think of your kids and what they love.

For an action figure area, consider using wall ledges to display and store your child’s collections. This is especially great for small toy rooms with limited space since wall ledges can raise the items up and still give play space below. Using picture frame ledges for reading areas is also a great solution–especially for for small spaces– since the thinner ledge profiles don’t stick out into the room as far as bookshelves do. Also instead of book spines sticking outward, with picture frame ledges, the book covers are visible so kids who can’t read will know exactly which book they’re getting–no more piles of pulled-out books strewn across the floor. There are so many fun ideas for making designated play areas in your toy room, just check out Pinterest and you’ll be flooded with possibilities!

  1. Have a place for everything

In clearing your floor and setting up your designated play areas, hopefully, you’ve also found a place for everything. If you still don’t have room in cubbies or bins or on ledges, maybe it’s time to purge a few toys that are no longer loved by your child. There are several places where you can donate used toys so other children can have the same pleasure your child once had with them. If after purging there still isn’t enough room (and even if there is) it’s a good idea to rotate toys every month or two to keep your child interested in what they have. A lot of messes result from boredom as kids dump and search for something that appeals to them.

  1. Teach your children (and invest in a small, plastic shovel as backup).

Even with a clear floor, designated play areas, and a place for everything, it doesn’t mean your child will keep your newly organized toy room in the condition you want. When chaos happens–and it probably will on a daily basis–try and be patient and try to teach your children these two simple things: 1) to at least keep legos in the lego area, action figures in the action figure area, and kitchen stuff in the kitchen area, etc.; 2) to always put the toys they’re playing with away before moving on to the next play area. (That way, at least the toys stay in their proper areas.)

But it’s a huge learning curve for kids. As backup, every parent needs to invest in a small, plastic shovel. That shovel will be a lifesaver on those days when your beautifully organized room is in total chaos. Just scoop the toys up with the shovel and dump them into the closest bins. If you have to sort later, that’s fine. At least the toys are off the floor. And hopefully, the toys haven’t ventured too far from their designated area so sorting won’t take as long.

When tackling that toy room, remember children have their own sense of organization and not all kids have the skills to sort toys and put things back in their proper place. If you can at least get them to keep each smaller area picked up so toys from one area don’t get mixed in with toys from another area, you’re making headway. Who really cares if all of the play dishes are intermixed with the play food as long as the designated kitchen area still has the needed items to “cook that gourmet meal.” Your child doesn’t. But your child does care if you want to get rid of his or her toys, so for your sanity and your child’s happiness, look into storage solutions to keep the toys off of the floor, create designated spaces for different types of play, and have a place for everything. Next teach your child how to pick up his or her toys, but if all else fails, don’t stress, just use that shovel as backup.