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Though I mostly talk about my work in private homes, I also do organizing work in public play spaces and preschools.

Today I was visiting my chiropractor’s office (Wallingford Family Chiropractic) in Seattle and noticed how wonderful their waiting room play space was.

I have been going to the chiropractor a lot since my accident.  The owner of the clinic, Dr. Gregory, is in my BNI group and his office is really easy to get to and has parking.  He was also able to get me in within 24 hours of my accident, which was huge.

Now, I knew he had a good play space, but until today I never really thought about it.  Why?  Because it is simple enough to not stick out like a sore thumb.

Usually public play spaces speak to me – or rather, they scream at me.  Though intentions are good, people usually just shove a bunch of unloved toys onto some shelves or into a toy box and call it good.

This can cause a couple of problems.  One is that when everything is shoved into a toybox and a very eager child gets into it, stuff ends up EVERYWHERE.  Not a huge problem – until clean up.  Usually the clean up on the way from a waiting room to an appointment only allows around 10 seconds – not good for a situation where there is stuff everywhere!

The other thing I see that happens is that there are toys everywhere, they have places that they can go, but there are just too many to be cleaned up after each play session and then the staff gets stuck in a 20-30 minute clean up at the end of the day.  Eeek!

Here is a picture of the play area at Wallingford Family Chiropractic:


Kids love this play area so much that Dr. Gregory has been dubbed "The Train Doctor" !

Kids love this play area so much that Dr. Gregory has been dubbed “The Train Doctor” !

Here’s what makes it so great.

One main toy.

Simplicity works best in busy office environments with lots of traffic.

Simplicity works best in busy office environments with lots of traffic.

This one main toy is a train set.  The train tracks are glued to the table and the trains can go around on it freely.  In most situations kids want to build their own trains, which is understandable – but with ALL the track pieces, this would be way too overwhelming in a short-term play session like the one that would happen while waiting for an appointment.

Easy clean up.

Train Table at Wallingford Family Chiropractic in Seattle, Washington

There is one spot to put the trains.  It fits with the train theme.  There is enough space to hold all the materials present.  There aren’t tons of unrelated toys piled in there.

Age Appropriate

This toy can work for a variety of different ages – I remember being into this kind of thing even as I approached ten – moving the train around the track can be soothing.

Here’s some other ideas you can utilize when setting up an office or public play space.

Make sure that everything has a place.

If you have things out, make sure it’s pretty clear where they get put away.

Less is more.

Try taking away some of the toys if you are feeling overwhelmed.  Children are creative and will work with what you give them.  In fact, they usually focus better with less.

Make Clean Up Easy

Try a couple of bins to place things in – don’t worry about sorting so much, just make sure the stuff makes it in the bin.

Edit frequently.

Toys seem to migrate from home.  People are being kind by donating something to the space, but often it just ends up adding clutter that has no place.

What’s your favorite thing about a public play space that you frequent?  Let us know in the comments, or head over to Home Key Organization’s Facebook Page to comment!

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