Monday, March 4, 2013

How to Tame Kids' Clutter the Cheap and Easy Way

This is the article that will appear in the March/April 2013 issue of our neighborhood newsletter. I do sell Clever Container items, but my true LOVE is getting into other people's homes and helping them get organized. If you have a need of a Professional Organizer for any area of your home, contact me today.

How to Tame Kids’ Clutter the Cheap and Easy Way

If you share your home with children, you know that taming their clutter can be challenging. Many times, kids’ items inevitably end up in every area of the home and you find yourself overrun with toys.

Having systems in place to corral kids’ items can help save time during your day (especially mornings) and help alleviate lost items. By teaching your children organizational habits when they are young, you are setting up habits that will help them as they get older.

Before beginning the project of organizing your kids’ belongings, you need to have a specific place chosen for each activity your children are going to be involved in. These activities may include homework, play dates, art projects, dress up and general play. The types of activities your child is involved in will change by age or interest, but having systems in place is a start and they can easily evolve as your child grows. You will also need to PURGE broken items or items they do not play with anymore. This will give you less to have to keep organized.

If you have ever gone to the store to purchase bins or baskets for any project in your home, you know how expensive it can be. But, organizing your kids’ toys does not have to cost an arm and a leg. One important thing to remember is to keep like items together in similar containers. For example, keep all of the games in similar containers. This will help children with putting items back in place. By taking the cards, puzzles and games out of their original boxes, you also save the hassle of finding a place for bulky, cardboard boxes that fall apart or tear over time. It is unnecessary to keep all of your kids’ toys out at one time. Store some in an attic or closet and rotate the toys. Kids will be more creative because they will have less to catch their attention at one time. The toys will also seem “new” to them when you rotate them again.

By using items you already have, you can have an organized space for your kids in no time.

Recycled Storage

COFFEE BINS: Use items such as large COFFEE BINS to store smaller items such as Legos, little men, cars, Mr. Potato Head and other small toys. To get rid of the coffee smell, wash the container and then place ¼ cup baking soda inside and allow it to sit overnight. Rewash and the smell should be gone. Large plastic bins from Costco (like the ones the animal crackers come in) are also great for smaller games and Legos or cars.

BABY ITEMS: Baby items also come in great containers. Save the plastic WIPES CONTAINERS to store card games like UNO, Phase 10, Memory games and SkipBo. Make sure to label the containers if you take them out of their original boxes. Labels can be as simple as placing the front of the original box on the side of the new container. Smaller, flat wipes containers can hold crayons. DIAPER BOXES are also very sturdy and are a nice size. Cover them with fabric and add a rope handle to store stuffed animals or larger toys.

CANS: When painted in bright colors, covered with fabric or ribbon, soup cans become decorative storage for art supplies. Place all of the cans on a Lazy Susan or a Cake Stand in the Art Station for easy access. This could also be used in the homework zone to hold pencils and other items.

Repurposed Storage

Storage pieces can always be repurposed with a little elbow grease.

An old BOOKSHELF or TALL DRESSER can double as a dress up station. Paint if needed, add decorative hooks or knobs down the sides and add a clothes hanging bar across the top. Hang hats, boas, and play jewelry or swords on the hooks. Hang those pirate or princess outfits on the bar and keep one shelf at the bottom to put shoes and purses or other items your child uses when playing dress up. For girls, this shelf could hold her tea set. A tall shelf would not work for this purpose. It needs to be child height. Use the DRAWERS as rolling storage for under the bed by adding casters.

An outdated NIGHTSTAND or END TABLE can be repurposed to create a play kitchen. With a little paint and creativity, these end tables can be transformed into a stove or sink. Remove the drawers to create the oven shelves and hang a pretty fabric or apron on front to create the sink front. The top can be painted to look like a stove top and knobs can be added.

PUZZLE pieces with handles for toddlers can be used as hooks when attached to a piece of wood. These need to be the long wooden handles.  Square WOODEN blocks or SPOOLS from thread can also be used for this purpose.

Double Duty

You can also create storage by using items that are not marketed as storage for kids’ toys. When you are shopping for other items at the local grocery, retail or hardware store, look in other departments for toy storage. You can add a cushioned seat to a PLASTIC CRATE to use as a seat and storage. Your local hardware store sells large gallon sized PAINT BUCKETS for smaller toy collections or even Barbies (adding a TOOL ORGANIZER to this bucket can also create an art center). OVER THE DOOR SHOE HOLDERS are also great for Barbie Dolls or other small toys. The cleaning isle of your retail or grocery store will sell a DISH DRYING RACK that can be used to hold books. The important thing to remember when looking in other areas for storage items is to make sure the items are safe for kids and are unbreakable. Kids can be rough on their items.
After the toys and other items are organized and in their specified homes, it is important to involve your children in keeping these spaces organized. If children know the system, they will more than likely begin to clean up after themselves which will in turn help you. We are the biggest role models for our children and they will learn from our ways. Children also thrive on schedules and routines.

This article has only offered a few suggestions for kids’ storage. With a little imagination, you can come up with many ways to save on organizing your kids’ things. Remember to rethink items next time you take out the recycling or have a garage sale. 

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