Kid’s clutter, what an insurmountable task. Things are put away and in no time, your kids room is messy again. The problem with organizing kids rooms is that they are often small and lack the built-in storage that is vital for a good organizational system. Yet the rooms are often the home base for a ton of stuff from out-of-season and outgrown clothes to surplus toys and miscellaneous overflow.
If you’re like most parents who become frustrated over the state of your kids room and the fact that it seems to be one step forward and two steps back, please know it doesn’t have to be a losing battle.
Sort through your child’s clothing
Since we have to get started somewhere lets begin with the clothing. Sort through everything! Start with one big clothing pile or attack things drawer by drawer. Make sure your child is available to try stuff on and share their input re: favorite items. Making them part of the process can lend itself to some great one-on-one time, not to mention, it can be a great learning tool having them go through all or part of the clearing out process with you.
Store out of season clothing elsewhere
Start a pile for any out-of-season or outgrown clothing. Once compiled – get it out of there! Or, at the very least store it on a higher shelf. The same goes for clothing your child hasn’t grown into yet. Box the clothing up and store elsewhere. Don’t forget to label the box and remember where it is stored. In the case of the outgrown clothing, if you aren’t saving it for another sibling, get it right out of the house!
Simplify clothing and plan outfits for the week ahead
Simplify the clothing that remains. Does your child really wear all 25 T-shirts or does he just favor a few? When shopping for clothing consider colours that are easy to mix and match. Ease your morning routine by helping your child pre-plan a week of outfits. The outfits can be folded and placed on a shelf or can hang together.
Lower the closet rod or add a second one
One of the most genuine excuses a kid has for not hanging up their clothes is that they can’t reach the rods. Once you have purged the excess clothing, you need to make sure your child can access what’s left. Lower the closet rod and install shelves at child-accessible heights. Also consider investing in child-sized hangers and open plastic baskets or bins for socks and underwear.
Think shelves, bins, and baskets
Old fashioned ‘catchall’ toy boxes may be the answer for your child’s stuffed toy collection but for small toys and books think shelves, shallow bins or carts with see-through wire baskets. It’s often best to contain similar toys and other items before you store them. When thinking of size – think shoebox for smaller items like Barbie clothes or fast food toys. When it comes to containers, plastic tops the list as do containers with lids.
But you don’t have to go trouble or the expense of buying specialty storage or organizational products when a few similarly sized boxes or a trip to the local dollar store for a few plastic bins will do the trick.
Limit the number of toys your child can have out at one time
I prefer containers not only because they keep like items together but using them allows me to limit the number of toys that are out at any one time.
Being able to say, “Sure you can play with your cars, once you put your building blocks away,” made a great difference in not only keeping my kids clutter at bay when they were younger but also taught them something about putting things away when they were finished with them.
Color-code shelves and bookcases
You may even want to go as far as to color-code shelves and bookcases. Using paint come up with a colour scheme that matches the room’s décor e.g. blue for books, green for games, and so on. The different colours will be a visual reminder of where things go.
Make use of labels
Label everything. You don’t need to get fancy here with professionally made labels. You can print out some simple graphic ones on your computer or you can turn it into a family project and have the kids draw their own pictures (socks, blocks, etc.) on store bought labels or on small pieces of paper affixed with tape. For older children large-type word labels to enhance reading skills.
Now put the labels everywhere – on the inside and outside of drawers, on shelf edges and on the outside of the plastic bins etc. Make a game out of cleaning up and show your kids how matching the labels can be fun.
Devise a maintenance plan
It’s all well and good to organize your kids room but unless you devise a maintenance plan all your work will be for not. Create a maintenance checklist and tailor the effort to your child’s age and ability. Build regular room maintenance into the daily routine.
Last but not least, be sure any demands and expectations placed upon your children are also modeled by you. Consider what your room or desk surface looks like. It’s good idea to take some time to get your own space in order prior to trying to instill organizational values in your children.