As a child, it didn’t matter how many times my mother helped me clean up my room, because 24 hours later it was as though a tornado had played with every toy and tried on every clothing item and dropped it on the floor. Maybe that tornado looked a little like me, but a bit smaller.
If only the magic of Mary Poppins were real in cleaning up children’s rooms. Snap your fingers and the toys jump into their toy box and the clothes hang themselves up. Oh, how I used to dream. Instead, I’d snap my fingers as I kicked the clothes and toys under my bed. Worked almost as well.
Luckily, there are now many products and ideas available to help kids get and stay organized. Include your children in planning and executing any new system; let them take some ownership for organization and they are more likely to continue doing it.
Think outside of the storage box when it comes to organizing kids’ rooms. Think about what kids can reach, access, and maintain. If all of their clothes are hung up on a closet rod that is too high, those clothes will likely end up on the floor. If boxes are labeled with words and your child cannot read, consider putting pictures on the labels instead. Go beyond the intended usage of organization items to fit your children’s needs and personalities.
Use an over-the-door shoe holder to:
• Separate belts, scarves, and other accessories
• Organize jewelry and hair accessories
• Place matchbox cars and figurines
• Store dolls, stuffed animal clothing, and other small toys
• Separate art and craft supplies
Bins and baskets are great for shelves, under the bed, or on the closet floor. Use them:
• To plan and store the week’s outfits
• Instead of a too-large dresser drawer for sorting socks, underwear, etc.
• As one consolidated space for all of their shoes
• To place balls, mitts, and other larger sports equipment
• For stuffed animals and extra blankets
• As a temporary spot for books when not on a bookshelf
One of the most effective ways to organize and help kids maintain a clean room is to edit. Fiercely. Does your child wear all 30 shirts in their drawer? Do they play with every toy crowding their shelves and floors? Grab a storage box and clean out. Some items may need to be donated or stored away. Other items, like underused toys, can be “temporarily” stored. Put them in a special box and explain to your child that these toys will go on a toy vacation. When a few months have passed, bring out the well-rested toys and replace them with toys that have since gotten tired and need to take a break in the vacation box. This keeps toys fresh and exciting—without the need to buy anything new.
Above all, keep it simple so children can maintain their own room’s organization. Make it fun and rewarding to have clean spaces. As Ms. Poppins said, “You find the fun and ‘snap!’ the job’s a game!”