Clutter just seems to happen, and with kids there's even more clutter. One day it’s a shoe under an ottoman, and the next it’s handful of crayons left on the dining room table. Before you know it, finding anything is a challenge. But a few storage tips can help you get your kids involved in keeping house clutter under control.
Kids can be clutter magnets. With the toys and school gear, not to mention socks and other clothing items, it’s hard to keep everything put away. That’s why you need a plan to reduce the clutter, and keep it organized. (Read: Conquer Clutter in an Open Floor Plan)
Here’s a simple declutter strategy you can start in no time. Once you’re ready to put your plan into action, your kids will have a much easier time helping you keep the whole house tidy.
Categorize is #1 Among Our Storage Tips
Stuff needs a home, but you’re not much better off than before if everything gets tossed into one bin. That’s why the first thing you need to do is categorize all of the big and little things that get left around the house.
Is it a toy? Is it clothing, or school work, or art supplies? For everything to have a place, you have to know what everything is. So work with your kids to determine what’s what, or designate categories on your own.
Once everyone knows that a set of pencils is for art and a toy is, naturally, a toy, it will be easier to choose the right home. Then you can make sure those things find their way to the appropriate home every day.
Storage Tip #2: Track Categories & Their Homes
A list on the wall makes a good reminder of what goes where. If it’s in black and white, it’s hard to deny that the Lego block in the living room is a toy, and it’s a toy whose home is not the living room floor.
Keeping a list of categories and homes for those categories helps keep everyone responsible for their own things, and for putting them away. It might also be a good idea to include a reminder on the list. Perhaps if the Lego block doesn’t find its way home, it might find another temporary home in a bin at the top of Mom’s closet.
You also need to recognize that each of us defines clutter differently, and it's unlikely all your kids will match your personal preferences. When my boys were toddlers, I kept a small basket in each room so I could quickly toss everything into a temporary home. As they got older and I was comfortable with them climbing the stairs independently, we graduated to a single basket on the first floor and each night all the orphans had to be put to bed … at bedtime.
So you see some storage tips are to teach your kids how to help you, while other storage tips are for Mom's sanity.
Storage Tip #3: Location, Location, Location
Now that your categories are set and your list is in place, it’s time to assign homes for all the troublesome things that ordinarily are left lying around.
Some things will be obvious. A coat on the kitchen chair should go in the coat closet, for example. Dirty clothes should go into the hamper, or maybe you prefer a laundry basket in the child’s room. (Read: How to Declutter a Kids Room Using Built Ins)
Other things might require some creativity. Cubbies are a great way to help kids stay organized, and so are wall hooks mounted low enough for a child to reach. Label each cubby with what belongs there (pictures work even better), such as art supplies in a container, or even shoes. Treat the hooks the same way, and backpacks will stand a better chance of being hung up instead of left on the floor by the front door.
Helping kids stay organized isn’t just for you, it’s also for them. These are learning years, when habits, both good and bad, are formed. By making the rules simple and easy to follow, you’ll save yourself a lot of unnecessary work. By sharing storage tips with them, you’re teaching them that a clean and tidy home is a happy one.
Why not make this week the time when you tackle unwanted clutter in your own house? All it takes is a simple plan and the dedication to see it through. You can start by getting some storage tips on Pinterest … and please share your ideas below, as everyone has a storage challenge they need help with.