Let’s Get Organized!

7 May

If you have kids, you have clutter.  Face it, kids bring clutter.  When they are babies, there are the bouncy chairs, the high chairs, the swings, bottles and diapers everywhere.  Then they learn to walk and leave a trail of toys and outgrown clothes in their path.  You have to keep up with the kiddie clutter or it will consume your home!

What do you do?  Buy a ton of fancy organizing systems, put everything in them and only allow the children to look at the toys so they don’t get messed up?  Not possible.  Pay someone boat loads of money to come and organize your home, and then in a few months pay them again because you can’t possibly keep it that way?  Not probable.

No.  You take it slow, room by room and do it in a way that it can be LIVED in.  Nobody wants to live in a museum.  You can’t make your kids use a card catalog to find their toys, or have their friends sign a waiver before they enter stating that they will promise to put ever last lincoln log back where they found it before they leave.

In my house, there are 4 people and one dog.  it’s not neat and tidy all the time.  We work, go to school, have friends over, homework, sports, lives.  BUT I make an effort to keep things orderly.

We live in a split level house, no basement.  Ack!  Love our house, hate the lack of storage.  Each bedroom (3 bedrooms) has a walk in closet.  The boys rooms are small so we keep their dressers in the closet to optimize space in their rooms.

Big A had a bunk bed, but only ever slept on the top bunk, so we took the bottom supports out (REALLY easy) and turned it into a loft!  Makes him have more room for play in his bedroom.  His book shelf and chair are under the loft, and we mounted some stick-on lights underneath so he has reading light.

Little C doesn’t spend much time in his room other than sleeping, so he just has a toy box and a small fabric tote for his bedtime books.  Since we hold on to Big A’s outgrown clothes for Little C, I keep a rubbermaid tote in little C’s closet.  When Big A outgrows something it goes into the tote.  I also have a 2nd tote for Little C’s outgrown clothes, which then get passed down to my nephew.  Anything we want to keep for sentimental purposes goes into the attic to get out of the way.

I rotate their toys with toys as well.  They have too many toys, and I really don’t buy toys anymore.  But Christmas and birthdays overflow our playroom.  So before every birthday or Christmas, we go through the toys, toss broken ones, sell things they’ve outgrown or don’t play with and make room for the new stuff.  For every stuffed animal they purge (which get donated to, as Allen says, “the kids who really need them”, they are paid a quarter.  This helps because they hold on to and collect every little animal they can get their hands on.  I’m pretty sure Allen has at least 10 in his bed right now!  I frequently put all but 2 away, but they find their way over time.

We have loads and loads of Legos, which get played with daily.  We have 2 rubbermaid sets of drawers and the Legos are sorted by color.  That makes finding pieces a lot easier when it comes to building something.

You may recall the built in shelves in the playroom . . . perfect way to store board games and puzzles so that kids can see what they are.  Shelves are great for playrooms.  We even have a cubby system we bought at Target for $40 a few years ago.  The fabric bins that fit in it are usually only $5 and come in every color and pattern imaginable.  My sister actually has an awesome cubby system from floor to ceiling in her playroom!  Swoon!  One really great idea for games and puzzles, since the boxes they come in last about 5 minutes, is to put them in tupperwares with lids.  Cut the names of the game/puzzle and a small picture of it off the box and glue it to the lid.  That way kids can take them out and put them away without the pieces flying all over the place.

Dress up clothes and costumes can end up all over the place as well.  We have a really cute treasure chest fabric tote for our dress up goodies.  But if you have girls, I’m sure you have WAY more dress up stuff than we do!  I have seen these adorable DIY dress up racks and “closets” made from a dowel rod or PVC pipe and 3 sheets of wood.  Even better, mount a mirror on one side and she’s got her own little dressing room!  If you are on Pinterest, search “dress up storage” and any number of awesome DIY projects will be before you very eyes.

One trick I use to help my kids get rid of things they no longer play with . . .Craigslist.  I take a picture of the toy they want to sell, post it for free, and when it sells they get the money.  Last time we did this the kids earned $110 between them!  Then I gave them each $20 to spend.  So we got rid of a load of toys (trash, donate and sold) and then they were each allowed to buy ONE toy.  Get rid of a lot, but only buy one new one.  Otherwise, you are right back where you started!



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