Archives for July 2013

My k.i.d.s. formula for organizing with kids

Organizing with KidsWhile I don’t have any children of my own, I do know that children’s toys, clothes and other items need an organizing system just like the rest of the items in our lives. This is especially true for all those toys! And with birthdays and holidays every year, the toys quickly add up!

As a parent or caregiver, you might be tempted to just grab a big bin and throw in everything together, or even grab a trash bag and start hauling items to the dump.

But take a deep breath and remember my K.I.D.S. formula for organizing with kids.

  • Keep it at their level
  • Involve them in the organization
  • Designate a home for everything
  • Set up systems and stay supportive

Keep it at their level

  • Set up closet rods and shelves so that your children can reach items. Store seasonal and less frequently used items higher.
  • Hang some Command hooks within your children’s reach so they can easily access and hang up jackets, backpacks and bags.
  • Create storage solutions with fun and attractive containers that are convenient for your children and where they typically play.

Involve them in the organization

  • Consider your children’s needs, wants, frustrations and concerns. They may be upset because their toys always end up broken, they can’t find something when they need it, they lose their homework and get in trouble, or they are bothered by something you didn’t even realize. They may really want a place where they can store their rock collection or have a dress-up area for their dolls.
  • Help your children understand that it is important to donate items they are no longer using, or to throw away broken items that cannot be fixed. Provide guidance and support, but let your children make decisions about what to keep and what to throw away.
  • Teach them the importance of putting items back after they are done with them. Items are less likely to be broken, lost or messed up in some way if they are put back where they belong.

Designate a home for everything

  • Create a place for everything – every toy, every art supply, every memento, and every piece of clothing. If something doesn’t have a home, your children will have no place to put it and it will look like “clutter.”
  • Make sure your children know where the home is for everything. Use labels wherever possible. If the child cannot read yet, use pictures.
  • Keep a bin in the closet, or somewhere else in your children’s rooms, that can be used to gather items to be donated.
  • Create extra space in a room by using over-the-door hanging solutions and under-the-bed storage. A bunk bed with a desk or play area underneath is also great for small bedrooms.
  • Create memory boxes or books. Every year gather all your children’s creations and take photos of them. Then pick out your favorites together. Include the originals of the favorites and the photos in your chosen memory container and toss the rest. Over time, you and your children will create a treasure that will be cherished forever, and be reasonable in size.

Set up systems and stay supportive

  • Create family rules to help keep everything and everyone organized. For example:
    • Make your bed every morning.
    • Tidy up the living/family rooms and bedrooms every evening. (You can even set a timer and make a game out of it.)
    • All items that need to be taken upstairs at the end of the night should be placed in the basket on or by the stairs.
    • All outside toys must be put back on the patio or deck before coming in for the evening.

Basically whatever rules will work for your family and home.

  • Stay supportive. Once you and your children organize all the items and have a place for everything, reward yourselves for your hard work. Make sure your children feel proud of their accomplishment. However, remember that it needs to be maintained and that requires new habits to be formed. This takes time, reminders, support, patience, and adjustments as your children grow and things change. If your children start to become disorganized again, reframe from blaming the children or yourself, or getting angry. Talk to your children and run through the K.I.D.S. formula again to find the real problem and the right solution.

Products that can help organize children’s items:

  • Chrome Locker Baskets
  • Double Duty
  • Gear Pockets
  • Handbag File
  • Peek-a-Boo! I See You
  • Peek-a-Book! Treasure Box
  • Toy Hammock
  • TuffTotes
  • Bin There
  • Bin Pulls and Cubes
  • Stuff It
  • Over-the-Door Pantry Organizer
  • Clever Bucket

Visit my website at http://clevercontainer.com/kristystephens to order these and other products.

Contact me if you would like any suggestions for your organizing dilemmas!

What tips do you have for organizing with kids?