After a long day, a foyer cluttered with backpacks, school papers, sports equipment and scattered shoes is not a warm welcome. Do you cringe when you pass by your child’s bedroom? Are the toys out of control? Surveys show that home organization is a major source of stress for Americans. Parents with children in the home have a particularly hard time – 90% say they want less clutter, 60% are stressed by the chaos. The more kids you have, the higher the clutter-induced stress. Now imagine an organized home where you can actually decompress at the end of the day. Read the following tips on how to make that happen.
Clean Up Entryway: Whether it’s the foyer or mudroom, everything needs a place. Install hooks (designate one to each child with photo, name, or initials). Place labeled bins on a nearby shelf for lunch boxes and school papers needing your attention. Frequently worn footwear goes on the shoe rack. Store others in an organized space elsewhere –in your child’s bedroom, basement, or garage.
Downsize Wardrobe: Sort through the kids’ clothes and separate out everything that is outgrown or never worn. If space is at a premium, store out-of-season clothing in the basement or attic. To foster independence and to maintain order, have the important items accessible: use low-hanging rods for young children, labeled bins, and place likes together. Plan for growth and instill a sense of giving back by placing a Donate bin in your children’s rooms.
Reevaluate Drawer Items: Take control of the sports t-shirts: Does your daughter wear all 32 t-shirts from years of playing soccer? Ask her to select 15 and move the rest to the closet shelf. For young children, de-cluttering can be turned into a fun math lesson (ask them to count their shirts, and to put 1/3 back in drawer).
Maximize Closet Space: Hang shoe racks on the doors, install hooks for hats, belts, tote bags, etc. Have a safe step stool handy so your child can independently access items on high shelving.
Identify Homework Space: Most teachers recommend a dedicated space for schoolwork. ADHD experts are probably opposed to a desk piled high with papers! Start a file or labeled bin for projects and important documents. Teach your children to place completed homework in their backpacks right away so time isn’t wasted in the morning rush.
Rotate Toys: Kids don’t play with all of their toys every day, and parents hate the clutter. Use a large storage container to make a toy library. Ask your child to select X number of toys for the bin, and remove it for a month. Regularly swap the stored items for other toys.
Teach Child to ‘Give Back’: If your child is reluctant to give up once-treasured toys or other items, even if no longer used, explain how their donations will help other kids who aren’t as lucky. If they know something helps an underprivileged child somewhere, they are more likely to cooperate.
Limit Displayed Artwork: A house can quickly be overrun with kids’ artwork. Give each child a certain number of items to be displayed on the fridge or bulletin board. You may want to have additional space in the finished basement. Store the rest in an accessible area.
Control Books: Especially with pre-schoolers, shelves fill up quickly, and nobody wants overflowing bookcases in their child’s bedroom. Teach your children to donate a book to the public library every time they acquire a new one.
Safe Keep Memory Items: Give each child his or her own storage bin just for those special memory items – trophies, souvenirs, photos, or a favorite toy from long ago – the things that clutter up a room fast! Find an accessible place in the house to store the memory box. It can even be under their bed, if storage space is limited.
Garage: A disorganized garage is irritating. Kids have a lot of stuff – bicycles, hockey sticks, basketballs, etc. Use your wall space. Install hooks and teach the kids that every single item has a home.
Kitchen: Young kids have a lot of artwork, but teenagers cause electronics clutter. Laptops, smartphones, and earbuds on the kitchen table don’t make dinner preparation any easier. Set ground rules. Agree on a space where these items are stored when not in use.
Get your family organized and involve the kids. Be patient, as home organization takes time. With children, a feeling of success – not perfection – is crucial. Don’t overwhelm them with long de-cluttering sessions. Start small and give praise. If you’re short on time and need a Personal Organizer, contact Potomac Concierge. We’d love to help!