Organizing, Redesign & Staging

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Organizing the Little Ones

If the January issues of magazines are correct, now is the time to Get Organized! and Be Organized in 2008! I laugh a little seeing all the headlines and titles on the women's magazine covers this time of year, as they all seem to include "clutter", "organized", and "tips". And yet here I am giving you more!!

In my house, before the influx of new Christmas toys and playthings come in, I weed through and purge some of my children's things. I make space for the new items, and reorganize/review the systems for toys, clothes and bedroom stuff.

Here are some ideas for keeping your kids' things in an 'orderly manor'.

  • Have a ‘coming & going’ launchpad. The goal is to make sure that everything they need is in one place when it comes time to leave & gets put back when they come home. Create cubbies, hooks, tubs for each child or use a bookshelf or chest of drawers. Set up the routine that after school, kids go to their special spots to put jackets, shoes, backpacks, etc.
  • Have a large calendar with scheduled family events. You can color-code the items you write in according to type of event or by family member.

  • Switch out toys so that 1/2 total collection is out & 1/2 in storage out of sight.

  • Use plastic bins with lids & labels for small, multiple-item toys. Assign rules to the toys & try to stick to them: inside toys, outside toys, upstairs toys, downstairs toys.
  • A plastic shoe holder is a neat & inexpensive way to store small stuffed animals or anything that you don't want to toss into the toy box. You can also buy plastic toy chains or hammocks to use underutilized space.

Separate containers by category & don't mix categories. Leave room in each container to grow.

Make sure that there are plenty of places for children to put things away at a lower level that they can use without help.

    Label what goes in each container as specifically as possible. For little non-readers, use clip-art pictures, cut from catalog, scan actual item, or cut up flashcards. If kids share a room, use their photos to label their individual items.

  • Puzzles: mark back of pieces with abbreviation, put in Ziploc bag or plastic envelope with cutout of puzzle picture; put all bags into plastic container.

  • Keep a clothes hamper in each child's room or closet.

Try keeping a box named “Too small” & one named “Too big” on a shelf in the kids’ bedroom closets.

Use flat under-the-bed boxes for bedding or saved artwork.

Install hooks low enough on the inside of the closet door so kids can hang up their own jackets, belts, or bathrobe. Put those things you want them to be able to reach and get for themselves on the lower half.

  • Determine where school papers, artwork, & other items from children will go once it comes home. Setting up a routine will help control clutter of this type. Don’t let the kitchen become a dumping ground.

  • Although it might be hard for you to toss things for that first child going to school, imagine the amount of things you’ll have to deal with times the # of kids you have. You can have a “holding tank” container (i.e. under-the-bed clear one), one per child. Decide if the item is worthy of keeping, put in the container & then at end of a school year, go through to decide if you want it long-term.

  • Check on organizing product websites for kid-specific organizing solutions, like Pottery Barn Kids and Space Savers.