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The clutter of kids is unfathomable. The doll accessories, the Legos, the stuffed animals (oh, goodness, the stuffed animals!), the clothing, the school papers, the sports gear, the art projects… It’s enough to drive any parent mad. If only there was some way to contain the chaos.
Before you get all excited, I don’t have *the* magic answer here. My kids leave their socks in the middle of the floor and walk over them 30 times just like your kids. I do, however, have some tips to lessen the load. And let me get right to it by saying that my number one tip isn’t a decorating tip at all, but rather a way of life instilled in my husband by my mother-in-law that actually works: the old circular file is your best friend.
In all seriousness though, clutter provides an opportunity to engage kids in independent decision making and forming positive habits. I recognize that it is MUCH easier to pick up their stuff than to get them to do it, and, trust me, there are times when I do just that. When I’m not exhausted (ha!), I’m able to engage my kids in clutter management by using three simple rules: make it fun, make it easy, and when in doubt, clear it out.
Make it easy.
I’m convinced that both baskets and the peg-rail were invented by an over-tired mother of multiple kids. I should probably google that. Anyway, baskets are your friend. Use them wherever you can. Label them if you want to, but don’t get too cute (ahem, Pinterest) because your kids will never put things away in the “right” basket. Trust me.
Open storage is key. We’ve all seen those beautiful children’s closets lined with artfully arranged clothes. Not at my house. Anything that requires a kid to pull it in and out is not going to happen (I’m looking at you, drawers, under bed storage, and boxes with lids). Look to cubbies and open baskets for storing things that you don’t want to see or feel compelled to corral. Cups and recycled jars make great pencil holders. Stackable mini-bins are great for art supplies (no lids!). The peg-rail comes in handy for things that always end up on the floor like towels, sweatshirts, coats, and backpacks. You can can get the same function out of hooks and create a fun wall while doing it (these are simple and come in a bunch of colors). Book slings or spice racks are a great way to keep books off the bed but still accessible.
Make it fun.
A bookshelf doesn’t have to be boring. It can have shape and color (giraffe, anyone?) or shape and no color at all. A standard bookshelf can become interesting by combining books with games and bins of toys. The color of what’s on the shelf will become the center point, letting the shelf fade into the background.
Not sure where to start? Have your kid help you organize things into categories (like types of art supplies or types of building toys), then together - this is the key!! - determine what type of storage needs you have. If kids buy into the process from the beginning, you have better odds of success. Let them decide how things are categorized and pick out their own bins. You may be surprised at the results.
When in doubt, clear it out.
Your kids don’t play with all the toys and they don’t wear all the clothes. You and I both know this. So every once in a while, purge. You can do this once a month or once a season but schedule the time to get it done *with* your kids. This is a great way to teach them to give to others and to empower them to make the decisions about what they really want versus what they just have.
Ready to get serious about kid clutter but need a little push? I’ve got more where this came from. So so much more. Let’s talk.