I’ve been cleaning up after my offspring for a total of eleven years. Recently, it occurred to me that I should probably start helping my kids keep themselves organized so I can do stuff I actually enjoy.
Remember when your kids were babies? You thought, “How can one tiny person need so much stuff!?”
I remember when I had my firstborn. She was 6-weeks old and I took her to see my sister and niece, who lived seven hours away.
I had a minivan and I didn’t think twice about packing her swing, co-sleeper, rock n’ play chair, 19 outfits, two cases of diapers, breast pump, and every single bottle and nipple that we had.
It didn’t seem strange to me until we go there and unloaded everything into my sister’s living room.
As a new mom, I wanted to be prepared.
Now, my daughter is 11 and her brothers are 3 and 5. I guess I still want to be prepared because my kids still have SO MUCH STUFF.
Why Are There Crayons In The Heater Vent!?!
If I’m being totally honest, it’s not so much about being prepared as it is about just not being organized.
My husband and I are pretty mindful about how much stuff we buy for our kids. And, since we have a household budget that we follow, we definitely don’t go overboard for Christmas or Birthdays.
We’re pretty focused on making sure that the kids have experiences rather than possessions. Even if those experiences are staycations and weekend getaways to the next town over.
But, working full-time means we don’t have a ton of time or energy to stay organized. We are the king & queen of spending four hours on a Saturday getting a closet or corner of the house organized … and then allowing it to get completely cluttered again within a month.
It’s a vicious cycle.
What If I Help My Kids Keep Themselves Organized?
I watched a video the awhile back of a 3-year old in Thailand making fish soup for her family … over a fire.
I’m like, “Man, my kids are lazy as hell”.
I ask them to open their own granola bar and it’s like I’m asking them to donate a kidney.
It’s kind of a two-sided deal though. My undergraduate degree in organizational training so, I’m always of the mind that you have to give a person the right tools if you want them to do their job well.
With kids especially you have to be very specific about what you want them to do. I can’t tell my 11-year old “clean your room” and expect her to know all of the tasks that I think are included in that direction.
For instance, when I say “clean your room”, I don’t mean shove all of your dirty clothes under your bed.
To us, it’s common sense. But, to a kid, it’s a method for getting the project done with as few tasks as possible.
Give Them The Tools & The Direction
I love problem-solving. I love doing research to find the best way to approach a situation and solve it. Even though I feel like I’m never doing anything right or as good as other people are doing it. But, that’s another story for another day.
I started thinking about how we could keep our home organized, especially when it came to all of the kids’ stuff.
There’s three of them so, statistically, they have more stuff than we do and they’re all old enough to help in some kind of way.
I made a list for each of them with specific instructions for which tasks were their responsibility. (The 3-year can’t read yet so the 5-year old reads his list to him). Now, I just tell them “go do your lists”. Done. They know exactly which tasks I expect them to get done.
And, I went to work getting all of the tools & systems in place that they would need to do their tasks well.
These are a few of the things that are the most helpful in our house:
Buy 10 Buckets From The Dollar Store And A Package Of Cable Ties For Corner Storage
If you’re like me, and you don’t really have time to cable tie a bunch of buckets together, you can just buy a toy organizer. Either way, I recommend some kind of plastic toy organizing system because you’re going to find a sandwich or a string cheese in the bottom of them at some point.
Found from: BHG
Get Some Plastic Or Metal Buckets And Chalkboard Paint For Customized Toy Storage
Plastic buckets work for this and, instead of chalkboard paint, you can just use labels and a Sharpie. The key is the metal shelf though. We have two of them and we’ve had them for five years. They have served so many different purposes and don’t take up much space.
Found from: Domestic Charm
Use Pencil Bags [Or Even VHS Tape Cases] And Never Lose Puzzle Pieces Again
Our boys don’t have too many puzzles but, this works really well for those little plastic pieces that blast off of their alien guy and our daughter uses them for her nail polish and stickers. They’re just really useful to have around and you can grab a few at the Dollar Store.
Found from: The Navy Stripe
Consider Hanging A Fruit Basket In The Bathroom To Store Toys For Easy Drying
This is genius and super-helpful. But, hang it on the showerhead … not over the edge of the tub where it’s going to drip water all over the floor. And, do not hang it on the suspension bar that your shower curtain is held up with because your kids will rip the whole damn thing down.
Found from: Real Simple
Hang Magnets Or Velcro On The Wall For Convenient Storage Or Small Toys And Cars
We used velcro dots from the Dollar Store for this and it works pretty great. If you’re going to do this with the cars that run on a track by themselves, put the velcro dot on the roof or hood of the car.
Found from: South Shore Decorating
A Days Of The Week Organizer Can Make Weekday Mornings An Absolute Breeze
Found from: Amazon
Several Dollar Store Glass Or Plastic Jars With Lids Make Perfect Storage
Our daughter loves art and doing all kinds of different art projects so this works great for her. I would never put giant glass jars in the boys’ room.
Found from: Style Blueprint
Use Pocket Organizers To Keep Barbie’s Sorted And All Of Their Small Pieces Tidy
So many great uses for Dollar Store shoe organizers. Just go get a few … you will definitely use them.
Found from: BHG
A Drawstring Bag Keeps Toy Cleanup So Easy And Fast Your Kiddos Can Do It
Our boys have a little plastic picnic table that they play legos at. I bought them a drawstring bag from the sporting good store. They just pull the drawstring bag out, dump the legos and play, then they have to load all of the legos back into the bag and hang it on the hook.
Found from: Amazon
Add Pictures To The Front Of Storage Bins So That Your Kiddos Can Clean Up
This would be one of those organizing projects that I do if I’m ever on bedrest for some kind of surgery or injury and we have a nanny who is completely dedicated to keeping the kids out of my room so I can recuperate. It’s a great idea and I LOVE the way it looks … I just know that I’ll never actually have the time to do it.
Found from: I Heart Organizing