My kids are messy. No surprise, really, since this is one of the most common complaints of parents. Cleaning is something that has to be learned and teaching organizing for kids takes time.
They’ve gotten better now after years of me yelling at them reinforcing good habits, but it wasn’t that long ago that standing in the doorway of their bedrooms you would think something exploded. It has taken us a while to develop a system that works, but now that I have it, I’d like to share it with other parents going through the same struggle.
3 tips when organizing for kids
First, set reasonable expectations.
You can find lots of information about general guidelines, but only you know what your child is capable of. Just like adults, some kids are naturally more organized and neat than others. And while it may seem “unfair” to the older sibling, you can and should expect more from an seven-year-old than a four-year-old. I regularly have to remind Sniffles that when she was Lil’ Wheezy’s age that I helped her with things like I help him now.
Next, make safety – not style – the priority.
This can be a challenge when you’ve spent a good bit of time and money decorating your child’s room. Of course you want it to look like the Pottery Barn catalog, but that really isn’t going to happen! At my house, the general rule is that you must be able to safely walk through your bedroom at all times and the floor must be clear at bedtime. This makes sure that we could safely gather the kids and leave in case of fire. It also means nobody will accidentally be stepping on a Lego during a midnight trip to the bathroom.
Finally, provide lots of storage that kids can and will use.
This might take a little trial-and-error and it will also change as your child grows. Finding a method that can grow with your child is ideal. There are lots of cute toddler storage options, but think twice about whether you will likely have to replace it again in just a few years. The item which has worked best in my house is storage bins. My favorites are
- small, so that items on the bottom don’t get broken or lost
- sturdy, so that they can be handled daily without falling apart
- colorful, so that they blend in as decoration in the rooms
- easy to reach, so that the kids will use them.
We use storage bins for toys and clothes. We also have low-hanging hooks in the closets for belts, scarves, and purses and over-the-door hanging shoe racks to maximize storage space.
All of the above keeps us fairly clean on a day-to-day basis. However, over a long period of time even this isn’t enough. The truth is that my kids acquire a lot of stuff. We go through said stuff about twice a year. We try on clothes, recycle papers, toss broken items, and consign or donate what we no longer need.
Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hot Wheels® blogging program, for a gift card worth $40. For more information on how you can participate, click here.