If your family is like most American families, then you have probably struggled with having too much stuff and not knowing how to store it all. Specifically, kid’s stuff. Well, I am here to help. I have several tips that I have learned from my years working in a pre-school. However, the number one rule (and the reason that pre-schools always look so neat) is to have your children clean up after themselves; don’t do it for them. You may provide assistance as needed, but your children should take an active part in the process. I will have another post later explaining the benefits of having self-sufficient children as well as some tips on how to motivate them. Without any more hesitation, let’s get to it!
1. Use pictures as labels on bins.
If your child is not yet reading, you can still label bins so that children know where to put their toys. Having bins clearly labeled will help prevent toys from wandering into other bins.
2. Store toys near where your child plays with them.
If your son/daughter plays with his/her toys in their bedroom or playroom, great! Store them in there. However, if there is a certain type of toy (such as a train track for example) that they always play with in the living room because they need the extra space, then store those toys in the living room. You can find nice storage bins if you are concerned with the aesthetics. This will make clean up so much easier for your little one.
3. Store toys in matching clear boxes or open top bins.
Forget trying to fit toys back into the cardboard boxes that they came in. If it requires mom or dad to help fit all the pieces back in, it’s not worth it. Remove the frustration and place toys in clear see-through boxes. Bonus: using the same type of clear container means that you can stack them on top of one another!
4. Store things within kids reach.
This one should be a no-brainer. Unless you have a special toy (i.e. finger paint) that they are only allowed to play with at certain toys, keep their toys where they can get them out (and put them away) without any help from you.
5. When possible, remove lids from bins and doors from cabinets/closets.
Having an extra step in the cleanup process makes it less likely that the toys will make it back to their proper places.
6. Allow the children to help decide where things should go.
Allowing your son or daughter to be involved in the organizing process helps them remember where it belongs and creates a personal connection. They will become more invested in keeping things where they belong. You could even make a game out of; pretend that you are helping find homes for all of their toys.
7. All rules were made to be broken.
If any of these tips don’t work for your family, it’s okay to ignore them!
8. Hire a professional organizer.
If the job feels overwhelming or no matter how many times you organize, toys, clothes, books, etc. still end up everywhere, you’re in luck! Professional organizers are available and excited to help you from the beginning to the end, and they might even have some creative solutions that you had not considered previously.