I am very passionate about organization, but it isn’t just my clients that I enjoy keeping balanced. I live my simple, decluttered, organized creed every day of my life, which is difficult at times because I have kids.
Two kids to be exact. And they keep their mama very busy.
As a parent, I am constantly inundated with my kids’ stuff: school and medical records, art projects, pictures, clothes, toys, awards and certificates, and memorabilia and souvenirs are just some of the things that come to mind.
So if I can help myself by simplifying aspects of what I like to call “mom-life”, I do it. Not only does it keep me sane, but it helps my family function better as well.
1. Select And Contain Important Memories In A Portable File Box
Part of being a parent means collecting and retaining things related to our kids, but nowhere in the job description does it say you must keep everything.
For each of my children, I keep a portable file box with one hanging folder for each year of their adolescent life (0-18). I am very selective about what I put in each hanging folder because that’s all I get for an entire year: ONE folder.
At first it was very difficult. But the longer I parent, the more I realize what is truly important to keep.
Take his artwork for example. As an art teacher, I LOVE creating with my son. But would you like to guess how many pieces of art he’s made over the years? Hundreds… and he’s only 3-years old. Wanting to throw them away clearly makes me a terrible person, right? That’s how I felt at first anyway. But I’m not alone, and it’s a fact that he’ll never miss that one particular painting from when he was 2.
I use this Office Depot Large Mobile File Box for my own kids:
I especially love this particular file box because it has a small flip-top area for special items and trinkets (I keep an archival ink pen, my son’s first birthday candle, and the flash drive of his birth pictures in this section).
2. Keep Excess Toys In Storage Totes and Swap Them Out Regularly
In my kids’ playroom, we have vertical storage bins that allow easy-access to toys. They are fantastic, but they only fit so much stuff.
The best way to boss the excess chaos of a playroom is to use storage totes to contain extra toys and swap them out every week. Not only will you keep the storage bins from overflowing, but it’s a little like Christmas every week!
You can use any large storage container to store toys, but be sure to find one that is durable and latches – it’s a feature that comes in handy when you’re moving the containers around so frequently.
3. Bedrooms Need Toy Storage, Too
Children’s bedrooms attract everything. And more often than not, kids’ items are large and/or awkwardly shaped. So when you’re looking for storage in their rooms, think out of the (toy) box.
An over-the-door organizer or hanging stuffed animal net will help to keep toys off of the floor and supply you with some versatility and flexibility. These kinds of organizers are great for older kids (or independent toddlers) who would flourish with some cleaning and tidying independence.
In some cases, furniture designed specifically for storage is the best option. We use this cubby storage system in my son’s nursery:
He doesn’t walk yet, so this set-up allows him easy access to his toys. It is also visually appealing, so mom and dad are happy, too!
4. Use Hanging Compartmentalized Storage Options for Closets
Kids, especially young kids, do not have a good track record for putting away their own clothes. And babies & toddlers don’t always have hanger-friendly items (diapers, blankets, socks, etc).
To maximize your kid’s closet space, use hanging compartmentalized storage. In my infant son’s room, I use a combination of IKEA Skubb Closet Storage and 6-compartment organizers to hold his essentials:
To find things faster, you can also make removable labels for each compartment. I made these out of craft tags and clothes pins to label each age-range of my son’s clothing, and swap them out as he gets older:
5. Create A Home For Their Bath & Water Toys
Every kid has bath toys, but most tubs are not conducive to storing them effectively. The main concern with bath toys isn’t even finding a place for them, but having a drying storage area for them.
Because, mold. Gross.
Luckily, there are plenty of genius parents out there who have you (and your tub) covered.
Using a tension shower rod and dollar store storage bins and shower hooks, you can create this DIY bath toy organizer (via The Inspired Home). Or, if you have any Command hooks lying around the house, you can use them on your tub wall to hang the same dollar store bins (via Home Decor Fresh)!
6. Designate An Easy-Access Storage Area In The Kitchen For Their Dinnerware
This is an important one for two reasons.
First, having a storage system for the kids helps to maintain order. Just like anything else in your house, it’s important to have a home for everything. Families with children generally have less storage space per person, so it’s even more critical to assign areas to specific items.
Second, it encourages independence and responsibility among children. Anyone with kids knows that they LOVE doing things for themselves (and demand freedom to “do it myself!” often). If they have an area within their reach devoted especially to them, then kids will feel more pride and autonomy when asked to participate in dinnertime set-up and break-down.
More fun for them, less work for you!
7. Create Kid-Friendly Stations For Frequently Used Items
When I tell my 3-year old son, “Please take off your shoes,” I’m lucky if he gets them off within 10 minutes of my request. But it would be ten-times more difficult if I didn’t have an assigned spot where he knew they were supposed to belong after taking them off.
Kids need visual cues in order to complete tasks that adults can complete with just auditory prompts. The best part about this is that your design doesn’t have to be anything fancy.
In our house, we have a boot tray for our shoes for when we come in from the garage. In our play room, there is a designated kids’ table and chairs for when my son is feeling creative (pictured above). In our living room, there is a cabinet just for our sons to store their DVDs and other favorite media.
The end goal is to have designated places so that your kids know where everything belongs, too. It cuts down on confusion and frustration for everyone.
So, there you have it: 7 ways to help (hopefully) cut down on the craziness of family life.
You may already be doing some of these things (or a variation of them) in your own home, and that’s great! If not, give some of these a try and tell me how they’re working for you. If you’re doing something amazing that’s not on this list, share it below!