Hi Everyone! I’m been very open on CloudMom about the fact that household organization is near and dear to my heart. When everything is neat and tidy, I’m calm,and when it’s super messy and I can’t find things, my heart can race. Not totally normal, I realize, but I know I’m not alone. Frustrating, though, isn’t it how time-consuming keeping everything it’s place can be? So how about putting the kids to work? Well, this is exactly what Jeni Aron of Clutter Cowgirl is suggesting in a hilarious guest post this week. Read on for some laughs and great organizational tips!
I’m going to come right out with it, I don’t have kids. I’m sorry! Worse than that, I can count on one hand how many kids have ever been in my home. But I like kids, I really do. And sometimes I think just like a kid and, if I’m going to be completely honest, I’m shorter than some kids – I’m 5 feet tall. Okay, I’m 4’11” if we’re really being sticklers! But here’s the rub, organizing for kids is just really about accessibility, ease and fun. Now that I think about it, that’s actually what ALL organizing should really be about. So here are five basic ways kids can organize themselves. I’ll be over here having a juice box.
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1. Easy to reach bins
Kids have small hands and they’re clumsy. Cute but clumsy. And the worst idea is for them to climb up on a chair to snatch that book, toy, doll, blankie or ba-ba while we’ve got our back turned for two seconds daydreaming about being the next Mrs. Robin Thicke. So let’s make their bins easy to reach. Keep big, colorful, canvas bins handy on their level (the ground) so that they can get into the habit of grabbing what they need. You can stack them depending on your child’s height or have them side-by-side. Now you can go back to walking the red carpet in your mind.
2. Book storage
A kid reading a book has got to be one of the most precious things ever (except for that one time last week when I saw a mini daschund wearing an argyle sweater). Kids want to explore and learn and when they can reach for their own books, that’s a step in the direction towards a little adventure. Use your wall space. Books can be displayed with their covers facing out on shelf ledges so kids can see the great illustrations on the front cover. You can also store books on the wall in a file sorter like this at kid eye level. Books can be tucked on the back of the door in a canvas holder. This space is golden and the kid can slam the door on you and then relax with a good read. Books can be stored in bins alongside their toys and books can be in baskets under their bed. The key is to make sure your kid can see what books they have, to weed out the ones they no longer want and to keep their little brains growing and learning.
3. Art supplies
This one’s a little different because art supplies can lead to a Jackson Pollack experiment on your new Crate and Barrel rug if you turn your back for more than a minute. Not cute. Shoe Boxes are a great way to store and stack pencils, crayons, paints, brushes and everything else your mini-Magritte wants to dabble with. They can see what’s in each container and you can retrieve it for them. They can then be responsible for sorting and placing their materials back in the bins with ease. You can label the outside of each bin or just let the contents speak for themselves. High shelving is the way to go in this scenario. Paper can live below in a cubby and an easel or clips on the wall can showcase their masterpiece. A wine and cheese gallery opening is up to you.
I love setting up canvas shoe caddies on the inside of closet doors for kids, it’s such an easy solution. They can roll up their pj’s, socks, undies, t-shirts and casual pants and stuff them in the pockets of the caddy. The clear plastic pockets allow kids to see what’s in each pocket. Shoes can live in the caddies as well, that’s a no brainer. Another option for easy clothing storage is to use a simple freestanding bookshelf with adorable canvas bins like these Skip Hop Zoo Storage Bins to house clothes that are within reach. If you select a more simple, clear plastic bin, you can fix a photo (or a drawing from your child) of the contents of each bin so he knows where each item lives. Clothes for special occasions (like the wine and cheese gallery opening) can live above the fray hanging on a rod for you to take care of and treat with more care.
5. Snacks/Kitchen Stuff
When healthy snacks are within reach, kids can learn how to dole out yummy treats for themselves. Assign a bottom drawer in the kitchen. In the pantry you can have an open tote or basket on the floor where kids can easily grab a bite. You can also attach another canvas shoe caddy to the wall of the pantry or in the kitchen and put snacks in each pocket for easy access. If you’re using containers to hold the snacks, make sure the kids can open and close the containers easily. Each week you can portion out snacks in the appropriate amount into zipper baggies so they’re on hand for hungry little monkeys.
When kids can organize stuff their own stuff, they’ll be more likely to clean up after themselves and feel more independent and confident. You’ll be giving them an excellent foundation that they’ll take with them into adulthood. Plus, they might not need you as much which will open up your schedule. You can take up salsa dancing again! Congrats!
Moms, how do you keep your house organized and do your kids participate? Comment below!
Jeni Aron is the Clutter Cowgirl, a NYC-based professional organizer helping clients create better use of their space. She is a frequent contributor to the popular home blog Apartment Therapy and has been featured in New York Magazine.