Simple Steps to Contain Clutter
By Renee Ory, Owner of Amazing Spaces
Organizing for kids is one of the most rewarding projects to me because I get to see the joy in a child’s face when all of their favorite toys are ready for playtime —not to mention their parent’s face when the mess is gone! Most parents cringe at the thought of organzing kids’ spaces. The truth is, if you set aside a half or full day, you can have a good basis where only tidying up is needed for long stretches of time, so the time investment is worth it! Whether its clothes, toys or papers, there are simple systems you can set up to help manage and contain the clutter.
Gather all of the child’s clothing from the dresser, closet, laundry, under the bed, in the car, or wherever their clothes tend to accumulate. Categorize similar items, such as all tops, bottoms, uniforms, and pajamas. The fact that kids grow out of clothing so quickly should make it easy to decide what stays and what goes. Relocate items that will be useful for a smaller child in the family and separate items that are still too big by boxing them up with a label or hanging them in the back of the closet for the future. You should also pull out any clothes that you are saving for sentimental reasons and put them in a memory box along with other special items. Hang the clothing in the closet and consider separating school stuff from weekend or everyday stuff. Divide items by type, such as short sleeves, long sleeves, shorts, skirts, and pants. If you want things to look extra nice, line clothing up by color going from light to dark in each category.
Collect all the toys in one area and separate them into general categories like cars, Legos, action figures, stuffed animals, costumes, puzzles, games, balls, dolls, books, media and electronics, and remove anything that is damaged or incomplete. Try to put sets back together. If your child has outgrown something and you know that he/she will not be upset by letting it go, donate it to a local charity. Another smart idea is to rotate some toys in and out by selecting a few to hide for a while and bring out in the future as a surprise. To store the items, choose a logical space where items can live. Each category should ideally be stored together and have easy access for playtime. I usually avoid mixing toys with clothing in the closet by keeping the toys down low or removing them from the closet altogether.
No organized kid’s room is complete without some sort of shelving, cubbies, bins, toy chests, to containerize toys. The reason you want an organizational tool is because it creates a limit to the amount that can fit inside, which should ultimately limit the number of toys you keep. Parents can decide how much is too much, but a general rule of thumb is that if it does not fit in the space that you have assigned, it is too much and you need to declutter.
Put Away Papers
Keeping track of information and paperwork is a lifelong skill; the earlier your child learns how to do it, the better. Managing papers is something rarely or never taught in school so it is up to parents to lay the groundwork. Begin by gathering all the papers belonging to your child and making separate piles to distinguish between blank paper, completed art or projects that are being saved for sentimental reasons, completed school papers, and info associated with after school activities or clubs. Recycle unnecessary papers and relocate any unrelated documents. Place the blank paper near the other supplies and save the memories in an assigned box that is out of the way.
Important papers should be put away for the future. I recommend setting up a filing system for each child by using a ten-inch plastic file box without a lid, ten to twelve hanging files labeled for each school subject and extracurricular activity, and a monthly calendar posted on the front. The purpose is to show kids how to manage their own files beginning early on and going all the way into adulthood.
These simple systems are a great start to organizing your kid’s clutter and should be reviewed and updated at least once a year.
Amazing Spaces is a Professional Organization company since 2003. Call Renée Ory (337) 296-5506 for appointments. Visit the website at AmazingSpaces.org.