Get Organized! Cutting Down on Kid Clutter
Setting up an easy-to-use system to organize your child's bedroom makes cleanups a snap. Let's get organized!
My three sons share a bedroom. (My husband and I need our third bedroom for an in-home office.) The boys don’t seem to mind, though; in fact, they actually like sharing a room—for now. I’m sure in 20 years my guys will look back at these times wistfully, remembering all the nights they giggled while hiding under the bedcovers, protected by the glow of their toy camp lights, or the great fun they had propelling Super Balls from the ceiling fan. I, on the other hand, will remember the daily challenge it was keeping the room neat and organized. Fortunately I’ve picked up a few tricks over the years.
If you’re a parent who needs a bit of direction in organizing your child’s toys, books, and clothes, try these simple but effective solutions.
When thinking of organizing the millions (or so it seems) of toys in your child’s room, forget cavernous toy chests where items often get mangled or broken. Instead use plastic storage bins with lids in a variety of sizes to sort everything—one for Hot Wheels, another for dress-up costume jewelry—choose containers that are appropriate for the size of each toy (or toy category). This makes it much easier for children to find the exact thing they’re looking for without making a huge mess.
At the end of the day, clean up is easy as kids sort their toys back into the appropriate containers. You can even tape a picture of the toy that belongs in each container onto the outside of the box. Even storing them is simple—they stack effortlessly in the closet, in a corner, or slide under the bed.
Odds, Ends, and Accoutrements
Because children’s playthings cannot live by plastic containers alone, there are many other simple solutions for organizing the accoutrements. Try storing jigsaw puzzles in freezer bags (one per bag), slip Barbie and her friends into the compartments of a plastic shoe bag and hang it on the back of a bedroom door, corral baseball bats and hockey sticks into a tall wicker basket in the corner, park trucks and other large toys in stackable, plastic milk crates, hang a small hammock from the end of the bedposts for stuffed animals, and stash the kids’ secret treasures (those odds and ends that they found in the park or on the beach and can’t seem to part with!) in personalized old cookie tins.
If your child’s a budding antique appraiser, display his or her collectible toys—antique dolls or vintage train sets—on a continuous shelf around the perimeter of your child’s room, installed one foot below the ceiling. The collection will be in full view for all to enjoy, yet safe for the future. Be sure to secure the items in place with earthquake putty to avoid potentially nasty hits on the head!
Books and Paperbacks
Because they have no spine, thin paperback children’s books also present a storage problem on the average bookshelf, making it nearly impossible for a child to find the title she’s searching for without pulling out every other book in the process. The solution? Purchase several rectangular plastic baskets (the kind that beauticians use to house their hair clips and rollers) and store books with titles facing forward. When a child wants to find a book, she can simply flip through the titles in the basket.
Another easy solution is to collect several large cereal boxes and cut along the diagonal, eliminating one corner to create a magazine-type file box. Cover with decorative wrapping paper. This works great for storing books in a series; you can file all Arthur books in one, Clifford in another, Berenstain Bears in a third, and so on. For an added visual cue, color copy a front cover, and tape the picture onto the appropriate box.
And finally, what about your child’s closet? All you may really need to do is add an additional rod to open up a bit more space. The simplest way to do this is to raise the original rod six to eight inches, and suspend a second rod, half the size, on one side of the closet with lightweight chains (or you can buy a kit from Target or Wal-Mart). Use this new two-tiered space for short clothing such as shirts and skirts; use the second, taller portion for longer garments such as dresses and pants.
There are plenty of solutions when it comes to organizing a child’s closet, or a dresser bureau for that matter, but what about everyday stuff such as pajamas and sweatshirts? How do you get them off the floor or off that corner chair for good?
Choose a wall (preferably close to the closet) or a portion of a wall and mount hooks at your child’s eye level. You can keep it simple with just a few or make a decorating statement with a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Use one for pajamas, one for the backpack, another for the various assortments of sweat jackets, an additional one for items such as your son’s baseball cap collection, and so on.
A similar option is to mount a peg board on the wall, once again at eye level, and add an assortment of hooks. This way your child can change the layout of the hooks, or add and subtract them, as new stuff enters her life.
Although you’d love to see your child’s room be neat and tidy every day, realize that your youngster is just that—a child—and it’s her job to make a mess. Yet when you set up an easy-to-use system for your child to follow, clean up can be a snap.
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