Children’s rooms may be the hardest rooms in the house to organize, because they have their own ideas . The best system to use is one you develop with their help and is simple for them to use.
I once saw an organized toy room with a bin for Lincoln logs. Inside the bin, each type of log was separated into it’s own container. It looked beautiful, but most children would rather eat cooked spinach than separate each log back out into the special containers when it’s time to put it away. It’s enough just to have one bin for the logs.
1. When you are creating a system take stock of what you already have to work with: shelves, containers; baskets; etc. What would make it easier? Create a list and set a budget for the supplies you will need and try shopping Dollar Tree first. I’m sometimes frustrated when I go down an aisle at Dollar Tree and find an item I already paid way too much for elsewhere sitting there gloating at me.
Do take colors and overall appearance into consideration when choosing your containers. If it can’t all match due to budget constraints that’s perfectly ok. You can start with using what you have and collect additional storage as the budget allows. Using fabric or paper to wrap cardboard boxes is inexpensive and sometimes looks better than anything ready made. Think, think, think about what materials are already available in your home that could be modified to suit your needs.
2. Start by dividing all the items into categories. We just pile things up on the floor . As you go, sort out the things that are broken or no longer played with. I keep a laundry basket in the room to collect these items while we work and offer to “buy” them from the children on the spot of they will let them go. I give them garage sale prices and then donate usable items or save them for the next sale. That way they get the money whether or not the item sells and get the instant reward of being able to let something go.
3. Put your piles into bins and then label them. My favorite labels right now are made from chalkboard contact paper on cereal boxes. They can be stuck to boxes with double sided tape or hole punched and tied through a handle with a ribbon. Make sure the bins end up where children can reach them easily. And are labeled in a way they can understand. For non-readers try taking a photo of the contents before putting it in the pin, then slipping the photo into a name badge that can clip or tie to a basket handle.
4. Maintaining: With children, daily maintenance and positive reinforcement is a must. Darren and I divide and conquer before bed. We each visit a bedroom and inspect how they put their things away during the day. A fabulous room gets a high 5, an atta-boy, and sometimes a Reeces Pieces or an Ande’s mint. I like the children to “show me” what they’ve done so they can take ownership of it and feel the pride of a job well done. If a room isn’t great, we work beside them to make it great. If there was a treat, they can earn it the next evening if they keep up the good work. These evening clean-ups are no more than 15 minutes for a tough job and usually just a few minutes.
Here’s the important part: If we want them to enjoy keeping a neat room, we have to take scolding and punishment out of the equation. It’s all about the emotions of it! Any room, no matter how bad, can be organized one item at a time, but if negative feelings are allowed into the process, we easily become overwhelmed. It happens to Adults and Kids alike! Keep it happy, keep it fun. Only punish a defiant or rebellious attitude.
If you are looking for more inspiration check out Houzz.com. It’s like pinterest, but only for decor. I found all the photos above there and they love it when we share their photos on blogs. Do a search for toy organization or kid’s rooms. You can even search for colors if you are looking for inspiration in a particular pallet.