Nearly every parent will agree that keeping children’s areas of the home clean and organized is a challenge. Whether it is their bedroom, their playroom, or their homework stations, kids have a lot of things. Now with schools and daycares closed and many parents also sharing their workspace alongside their children’s space, organization is more important than ever! Whether you live in a large home or a small space, the challenge of staying organized with children in the home can be overwhelming. Here are a few tips that can help you and your family be more organized and hopefully bring a little bit of calm to the current situation.
One of the first things you will want to do is establish zones throughout your child’s space and designate them for certain tasks or activities. For example, create an arts and crafts zone with an easel and table along with all relevant supplies nearby. Make it known that this area is for creating and crafting, anything related to these activities should have it’s own home nearby and should be put back in its home when these activities are completed. It is ok if some zones need dual purposes, but keep items related to each zone separately so they are easy to find and it is easy to transition from one zone to another. When creating zones, think about the things that your child likes to do and how you can make these zones fun for them. Create a zone that is easy to set up and clean up and doesn’t become overwhelming. Organizational baskets and trays are perfect for helping to set up these zones.
Get Creative with Storage
Let’s face it, kids have a lot of stuff. They often have their own little collections of toys, rocks, paper, stuffed animals - things they hold very dear to their hearts. Let them keep these things, but get creative with how you store them. You want some items to be easily accessible to them, but other items may be ok stowed away under the bed or on the top shelf of a closet. Think about the items that you want your child to have access to whenever they want. Any items that may be used less frequently or need supervision, can be put in less accessible areas. Always consider using shelves and vertical space to help maximize your space.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
While your child may love looking at their barbies and Legos, we as parents often see them as a mess on the floor. This is where storage bins, baskets, and crates really come in handy. Make use of these to not only help organize, but they also work great for keeping them out of sight. So at the end of the day, you can relax and not have your home look like a toy aisle.
Sort Like Things Together and Label Them
Encourage your child to help sort like things and keep them together. Keep all cars together, puzzles, dolls, etc. Keeping these items together may be difficult with a toddler rummaging through a bin of toys. Picture labels can help young children associate what goes in each container. This can help make it easier to find their beloved toys later and teaches them the important skill of sorting.
Get the Kids Involved
Letting your child help with organizing can not only help teach them important life skills, but it can help keep them motivated to stay organized as well. Let them have some control over where their items are stored and how they are sorted. Give them their own bins and shelves that they can be in charge of. The older the child, the more control they can have. Younger children tend to love stashing their favorite toys away and this gives them an opportunity to feel like they are in charge of their items and their space. You may want to pay attention to where they put things though for when they ask you where it is the next day.
Make Organizing Part of the Daily Schedule
Most children like routine and they like to know what to expect. Posting and following a simple daily schedule or routine can help keep them organized throughout the day. Instead of running around all day pulling out toy after toy and moving from one activity to the next, this can give them time to pause and plan for the next activity. It also allows you to work on a clean-up schedule, which will help to keep toys from getting completely out of control and overwhelming. You may still encounter negative feedback from your children in the way of tantrums or refusing to clean up, but for many children, this can really motivate them. After a while, they learn to expect it and hopefully begin to participate willingly. Small clean up sessions are always easier to tackle than a large one.
Create a Clean Homework/Learning Station
It’s important that kids have a quiet and distraction-free space where they can focus on their education. Find an area in your home to designate. No toys allowed, no snacks, or other distractions. This can help them focus and get them into the frame of mind for learning. Keeping the area clear from distraction and organized will save time and stress when it comes time to do their schoolwork. Thinking about needing to clear the table before even starting homeworking can make these tasks even more daunting for you and your child.
Set Limits for How much Stuff is in a Room
A key part of staying organized is not having an overwhelming amount of items and having enough space for what you do have. Take time to regularly clear out things that your child no longer needs or uses. Then set limits as to how much is brought back into the rooms. If you aren’t quite ready to get rid of items, you can set up a rotation by putting some items away in storage, such as in the basement or garage. Periodically, bring these back into their mix in exchange for other items you can store. Parents are happy to have control over how much is kept in the room and the kids feel like they are getting new toys every few weeks, it’s a win for all.