Where Do Your Kids Play?

Updated on January 04, 2013
J.C. asks from Blacksburg, VA
35 answers

My kids mainly play in the family room. Right now, the family room and foyer are full of new Christmas toys that as of yet have no homes. We have a playroom that they play in sometimes, but it is upstairs at the far end of the hall so if I am in the kitchen, I can't hear a thing and they end up not playing there much. They have some toys in their rooms and sometimes we all move to one of the bedrooms to play with something there. Well, i was complaining to a friend about the toys everywhere, and she said she had put all the new toys in the kids' rooms. (Hers are 3 and 5.) I said, "Do you just pull them out to play, and then carry them back up to the bedrooms when they're finished?" and she said that her kids just play in their rooms. Well, that sure would make my house cleaner, but I'm a stay at home mom and I play with my kids a lot. If they were in 2 separate bedrooms playing, how would that work? Would I just wander back and forth from room to room? (Assuming they would do that - the 2 YO probably wouldn't say in her room and play alone anyway.) I'm interested in finding out where other people's kids play, and, if they play in their rooms, how you interact with them. I would love to get my house into better shape and moving toys to bedrooms would help, but I worry about not interacting with them as much as I would like. Thanks!

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answers from Chicago on

My kids play in the family room/toy room. It is in the basement. I use to allow toys in the living room, but decided about 2 years ago that I wanted my house back! There are some puzzles in the living room, but that's it. They do occasionally build forts in there, but it isn't a playroom, and it needs to be cleaned up as soon as they are done. They do play a lot of imaginative games in there --the rug is a pool, etc. In some ways, being toy free requires them to expand their horizons.

I also bought plastic containers for all of their new toys prior to xmas, and I cleaned out the toy closet (in the family room) so that they had homes immediately. In fact, by xmas afternoon, everything had been put away in a new home.

As to playing with the kids, I rarely play with them, when they are "Free playing." They tell me to go away, they are putting out a fire, going camping, etc. Sometimes they want me to come to their "shop" and buy things, but for the most part, they play on their own. They are a 3 and almost 5.

There are also some toys in their rooms. They just moved in together last weekend, so as of right now, it's mostly my daughter's stuff (doll house, all her fairies).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Milwaukee on

They play in the room I am in. The toys are everywhere lol. We have a playroom downstairs but they are afraid to go down there, so they grab stuff and bring it where I am. I don't play with them either. They play alone or together. Mostly my 3 and 5 year old together. The 9 year old does his own thing mostly. We all talk and I help put a barbie arm into her sleeve or get a piece of playdoh unstuck but they entertain themselves.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Las Vegas on

Every home and family is different. You should continue to do what works for you. My initial thought when I read the post header was, she plays at the ice rink. Since she is the only little one, I often schedule a skate lesson for her and then she joins other friends for some free skate.

My daughter has a lot of toys, just stuff. She really doesn't play with any of it and never has. Since she is the only one, she usually stays in the same room I am in.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Honolulu on

My kids play in the whole house. And we interact all together in the WHOLE house. And sure the toys can be or are, all over the place. BUT, we have places to put them away. But this is a house, a family... and we have kids. Thus it is a lived in house... not all anal and it is not a museum at all.
As a child, that is how we were too. We played in the WHOLE house. And were allowed to. That is childhood, to me.

I personally, do not know of any kid that ONLY plays in their room, only.
Oh wait, I know of ONE family, who's Mom only lets them play in 1 room. And that is all. And ALL of their things are in a closet, and they have to ask her... if they can take it out to play. And they can only take out ONE thing, at a time.
These kids of hers, are really kinda... not creative or fun types. Maybe it is because of the Mom's "rules" for play in their house and how rigid she is.
But it struck me as weird. Her kids are kinda like robots. They don't play, spontaneously.
When you are in her house, it doesn't even seem like there are kids that live there.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Well, as a long time (20+ year) stay at home mom, I will say, my kids tended to play in my general vicinity.
Did I play with them?
Not really, I was busy cooking and cleaning and doing my own thing but I certainly think they enjoyed my company (i.e. my nonstop talking, teaching and singing lol!)
My kids never really played in their rooms, nor did they did they do homework in their rooms, as they seemed to prefer to be a part of the family, but they also played a LOT, I will say mostly on their own, and with each other, which I always assumed was a GOOD thing!
I also kept the toys and clutter to a minimum, which I am sure helped :-)

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My kids are older, but they played mostly in the family room when they were younger and sometimes on the kitchen floor or table. For a while we even had toy bins and a train table in the family room. My 13-year-old is still into Legos and some of them are in our formal living room and dining room because the dogs can't go in there and eat the Legos. We tried a "play room/Lego room" upstairs, but it didn't work out. In my experience the kids want to be centrally located and near everyone else. I've never been a stickler about where they can play or keep their toys.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

We live in a tiny house with just bedrooms, a bathroom, a family room and a kitchen, plus a basement playroom we finished two years ago. There is no room in their rooms for many toys, so we use their rooms for puzzles, books and small toys. Before we had a basement play room, when our kids were as young as yours, they played in our family room. It looked like a daycare center with toys and little kid gear everywhere, but that's what life with small children looks like to me. My youngest was 5 when we finished the basement and that was a great age to move everything downstairs because I don't have to play with them or supervise them anymore. I do miss having them right here sometimes though - it was nice when I could pop in and play Wii or cars or Legos with them while puttering around on the main floor. It's obviously no a big journey downstairs, but it's sort of out of sight, out of mind where I can get busy with work and forget to pop in and hang out with them a bit.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I have one child. He's five. He's in his room right now, with his beloved: Legos.
He's also got space in our living room/dining room area of our old bungalow.... that space is more for art/construction endeavors. Or he's working at the kitchen table. I'm a preschool teacher by trade, and I like having him and his activity around. It's interesting to me! I can wash dishes and he can make his creations... we do clean up each evening, though, and do some big cleanups at least once a week.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I feel like my house is one giant playroom! Maybe because it is? :)

My son's room is on the first floor, near the kitchen, family room and my office - open floor plan where kitchen spills into dining area, which is practically part of the family room, which turns into short hall, which goes past doors to office and his room, then voila! you are back in the kitchen. So the majority of the toys are in his room, except the art supplies (in the family room by a little table) and the train table/train stuff, large hot wheels tracks and a giant crane (alas, in the dining area). We have no playroom or finished basement.

We play a lot in his room or take the toys into the family room/dining area to play if needed. The trains are, of course, all over the first floor. And the open plan means a lot of running around in circles flying planes, playing tag or zooming cars.

The second floor has our bedroom, a blissful (mostly) toy-free environment. That I never see all day!

I am jealous of my friends with playrooms - some have more than one! - and public areas that look like adults live there. Our last party had people squeezing by the train table, knocking into blocks and using his art area as a place to put a drink down.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Our house is really small and doesn't have a playroom. So my kids play every where and anywhere.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

My kids are 3 and 5 and I feel like my whole house is taken over by toys too! Ugh. I actually am not that thrilled with it either and within the last year or so we've really tried to move some things around so that every room does not have toys in it!

My kids each have a few big toys in their room. They have rest time every day and although they don't nap anymore, I find it important to have some time to themselves. So, during that time they play with those toys, read books, etc. Our family room is our main "playroom", although I really wish we actually had a playroom. Our living room has some toys in it, but mostly books and a desk to do coloring, etc. Our computer is in the living room so if my husband or I are on it, they sometimes like to be close to us. Our bedroom is toy free, except for a shelf of kids' books I have as we sometimes like to read in my bed.

Sometimes during the day my kids will wander upstairs and play in their rooms, sometimes together sometimes separate, but mostly they are downstairs near me.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

When my third child was born we moved to a house with a basement. With an infant though I kept the toys in the dinning room. I felt to far from the children. By the time my baby turned two, we moved the family room and toys into the basement. Now we spend our days downstairs. I have a baby monitor set up in the kitchen (one that we can talk through both ways), which really helps. My children are now 7, 5, and 2.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

the logistics vary, but in general i would say, the "put something away before you pull something new out" rule is priceless. both of them are old enough for this. i would say at their ages, get it organized and put the toys away - then on a daily basis, they get something out to play with (bringing it to the family room perhaps), no big deal. but then when they go to get something else out - they have to put the first thing away first. then at the end of the day, worst case scenario, you only have 2 items (or sets) to pick up. that's what we do (okay, try to do lol) when i am on top of it, it works great.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

My kids are 5 & 8. They mostly play in their rooms now. We have a toy room in our basement that has a lot of toys. They can bring their toys out to the living room to play but all toys must be put away at the end of the night. That includes toys in their own rooms. They will mostly play legos, blocks & puzzles in the living room or dining room table. We have a dog so if toys are left out he usually gets them. But when they were younger and we had no dog we had a lot of toys in our living room. I had a little toy box behind the chair I would put them in at the end of the night.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Rochester on

I store toys, and as you suggest, take them out for the children to play with. :)

First, though, in our living room, we have one of those nice nine-cubicle shelving units (wood) with the canvas bins. Each one has a set of toys (Dinosaur Train in one, pirates in another, you get the idea). I also have a coffee table against one wall that is designated as a play space...my toddler likes to set her toys on top of it and play (for things like Polly Pockets or pirates, etc.)

In the bedroom, under the beds, I have other sets of things stored in boxes that I will bring out when requested. Also in their bedroom (they share, so it's not quite the same as your situation) they have a wooden table and chairs, so when they want to play with their play kitchen (which is in their room) or legos, coloring, etc, they have a place to do it.

In the basement, I have the larger sets of things stored in totes (Barbies, train set, Pet Shop, etc.) I will bring these sets up when they ask for them, and put them away when they are done.

I don't mind retrieving and storing toys, because it keeps things neat and organized and it's just extra exercise. :)

So, to answer your question, I guess they play both in the living room and in their bedroom. We have a small house, though, and each of these rooms in literally a 5 second walk from where I sit now, in the kitchen. :) In your case, I would probably come up with a storage system similar to what I do now and allow them to play in the family room.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

My children play all over our (small) home. We have a two bedroom home, with a kitchen and living room which are connected and open. So, even when we're in different rooms we are still very much within hearing distance.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

We don't have a separate playroom or a finished basement, so DD's toys are mainly in the living room, some in the den, some in our upstairs loft area. Her bedroom is relatively small, so there really isn't room for toys in there. And there is a play kitchen set in our kitchen, but she doesn't play with that much, so I have a feeling it will have to find another home soon. I don't worry too much about "toys everywhere"...they are relatively contained, and I want to truly live in my house and have it be a home, not a magazine showpiece. DD will be grown up soon enough - I will enjoy it while it lasts and not worry about how other people have their homes set up.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My DD plays in the rec room (part of it, when someone is downstairs b/c there is a door we cannot close to the workshop area), and all over the rest of the house. I do try to keep her toys from exploding everywhere with bins, but while she does play in her room, I also don't expect her to sequester herself in there for play. Frankly, I work at home and like to interact with her and see what she's doing.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

We also keep the kids toys in they're rooms. Board games, craft type items, and puzzles stay in the family room. I have two curtain rods on the wall to display all their artwork. I don't have a problem with them bringing toys out f their rooms, but they have to put them back.
I also don't put all their toys out. The things that they lose interest in get put away for a while then rotated when they're new again. This also gives me leverage for rainy days-remember such and such toy? I'll go get it!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Grand Forks on

When my kids were really little they liked to play near me. They had a playroom in the basement, but that was more of a storage area for toys than a play area. We would keep a small basket of toddler toys in the livingroom, and the kids were free to bring toys up from the play room, but they were supposed to put them back after. Sometimes they would play together in the same room, sometimes they would play in separate rooms. By the time the youngest was three they pretty much played in the rec room and they didn't really care where I was. We didn't spend much time at home though, and when we were home it was time for housework and meal preparation. Most of my playtime interaction with them occured away from home. Fostering independant play is just as important as interacting with the kids.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I allow toys in the upstairs living room - I just try to keep it to a minimum and rotate them. I keep them in a leather toy box that looks nice in the living room. The toys we aren't currently using are kept downstairs in the playroom. I don't have any toys in my kid's rooms. It is easier for me to keep their rooms clean this way, and if they get sent to their rooms for getting in trouble I don't want them to have toys to play with.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

MIne are older, youngest being 15 and always in her room. Very rarely will she camp out in the livingroom. The oldest 2 run around living life, jobs, significant others, so they are never home except to sleep.



answers from Los Angeles on

The oldest mainly does your average "teen things".

The youngest plays all over the house but mainly in the living & family

Every once in a while he will play in his room.

His toys are mainly kept in the living & family rooms. I don't mind that as that is where we maiinly hang out and I can keep an eye on him as I cook and clean. We do have bins & toy chests in those rooms that we work on replacing ALL of those toys.

The good thing about them being in these "living spaces" is that I can keep an eye on him while I cook and clean still having interaction and conversations with him. I do play with him several times a day in spurts. I try to teach him things and just have good old fashioned play time.

I do play with my youngest (oldest is in school & has sports) read him a couple of books,



answers from Bellingham on

My children keep their toys in their rooms and pull them out to play in the family room. When they're done, they put them away again.



answers from El Paso on

I don't keep toys in my girls' room (they share) because I KNOW my almost 4 year old would play when she's supposed to be going to sleep. My kids play in our "play room" which is really just the formal dining room (that we would never have used anyway) where we stuck all of the toys when we moved here. My original plan had been to use an extra bedroom as a play room, but after my husband pointed some "duh" things out to me, we decided that having them play downstairs (we were pregnant with #2 at the time) would be much safer/better.



answers from Stationed Overseas on

Our playroom and family room are in the basement. They are two seperate rooms. Toys stay in the playroom except for Legos because we need a big table to do those and the coffee table is perfect for it. No toys are allowed anywhere else unless we will be spending a large amount of time somewhere else in the house and then the toys go back to the playroom when done. There are only stuffed animals and puzzles in my daughter's bedroom. My son is only 15mo but there are only some books and a couple of toys in his room. Just to keep him busy while I'm doing something else like changing sheets. Bedrooms are for sleeping not playing in my opinion. This way they don't get out of bed to play in the middle of the night and are not tempted during nap/quiet time. We also purged the playroom before Chirstmas so we would have room for the new stuff. We spend most of our day in the playroom or family room. Sometimes the kids play together, sometimes seperate but in the same room and sometimes with me. It shuffles around throughout the day.
In our old house we did not have a playroom and the toys were in our main living room. I had a corner of the room just for toys and books. Everything got put away into the corner at the end of the day. It worked really well for us.



answers from Champaign on

We have a toy room for my sons (5 and 4 months) and the family room has a play area away from the main area for my 5 year old - set up with a tv, video game systems, movies, couch, and some bigger toys. The toy room is a work in progress, but currently we have 5 of the nine cube organizers which house toys for the baby, toys for the 5 year old, books, puzzles, etc. We have a closet that houses the little things that aren't good for the baby once he gets into things. My son rarely plays in there alone unless i'm in the kitchen. We play in the living room and the family room. The toys that come out to the living room go away nightly, but the toys in the family room play area tend to get picked up every couple nights. We use the bedroom as a time out zone - so there are no toys in the bedrooms.


answers from Washington DC on

My kids play in their rooms and in the basement. We use our basement as our "living room" and we also have another living room on the main level of the house which has no toys (they do tend to run around and play made up games in this room though). In the basement we have the TV, computer, legos, and a large bin full of toys. Most of their toys are in their rooms. My kids are starting to get a little older and they are 5 and almost 8, so they don't really need me to sit and play with them as much. We do read together and build legos and watch movies together though. My son (5 yr old) mostly likes to play in the basement and my daughter likes to play barbies or poly pocket in her room. We also do a lot of crafts together. I have a big art bin with paints, stickers and all kinds of stuff and we will all sit at the table and paint or do whatever. Our main living room (main floor with the kitchen) does not have any toys. I keep everything put away and I like to keep that level of the house clean because if anyone comes over, I don't want them to see toys out everywhere.


answers from Columbia on

Why do they require your constant supervision? Some independent play is a good thing.

My kids now play in their rooms or outside. They choose to play together or seperately (they are old enough not to need me to help them decide).

My kids played wherever when they were little. Somewhere childproofed, of course. If it was in an area that would need to be picked up I simply limited the number of toys they could have out.

Yes, you can pull out some toys into a common space occasionally, but you don't have to interact with them ALL the time. And they don't have to be together ALL the time. They can have Mom time, together time, and alone time. Whatever time it is, you just look in on them occasionally to ensure that they aren't tearing things up (my boys used to pull the mattresses off the bed to jump on).



answers from Atlanta on

My kids play in the family room for the most part, although we will play in one bedroom or another, too. Sometimes, like during Quiet Time, my son will go into his room and play quietly by himself, but I also play with my kids frequently, so other times, all three of us are in one room or another. The family room is convenient to me because it is right next to my desk and the laundry room, so it is easier to keep an eye on the kids while doing extra chores. Unfortunately, neither the family room nor the bedrooms are anywhere near the kitchen, so that makes things a bit harder.

Toys are kind of distributed - big toys, joint toys, etc. are in the family room, but then smaller toys or toys that are just for one child (for example, my son has some small toys that are choking hazards for my daughter) are kept in individual rooms.

I think you could easily move toys to the bedrooms as long as you made a point of playing with your kids there, too. Good luck!



answers from Detroit on

Everywhere. I don't interact, come to think of it (much).
There are 5 (all tiny). Even the baby toddles after them.
It's a full-time job managing the house and meals, laundry, dishes, etc. They sometimes "help" with this.
They play well together and it's built in playmates!


answers from Washington DC on

when my boys were small we had a very small house. they really did have to go outside to burn off energy, and it was great. we had a big yard and lots of awesome neighbors with kids, so it was ideal.
when inside they played wherever they wanted, but because it was very small they had to put their toys away when they were finished. i think that was a good thing for them to learn.
:) khairete


answers from Spokane on

My boys are 4 and 8 and they mostly play in the living room or outside. I have a big bench that runs across the entire wall where toys are stored. They put them away nightly. They also have a ton of toys in the basement (with a large TV for movies and an air hockey table) which they tend to go down and play there when friends/cousins are over. They each have a couple toy shelves, toy baskets and games in their rooms and occasionally will play in their rooms but usually together.



answers from Philadelphia on

Toys are kept primarily in my family room in 2 large size wicker chests. I have a couple of bins in the basement so I can rotate toys. My kids never played in any other room but the family room and sometimes their bedrooms. The living room, dining room, study and foyer all have hardwood floors so the FR is most comfortable since it is carpeted and that is where the toys are:).



answers from San Francisco on

When the kids are young (under 4) they usually played in the living room. We dragged toys in and out from the bedroom to living room multiple times per day!

Once they got a bit older, they were happy to play in their rooms.

I wouldn't worry so much about not interacting with them. They won't stay exclusively in their rooms; they will come out to talk to you, show you things, etc. There will still be plenty of interaction!

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