Kid’s stuff- there is often a lot of it and it tends to be everywhere it shouldn’t be! Between dealing with all their toy’s and the clothing that they are either destroying or growing out of, organizing a child’s possessions can be daunting and overwhelming. Although, I have not perfected keeping my kid’s organized, I have implemented a few strategies that have helped me stay relatively sane.
Too Big, Too Small
In a past post, I shared how I deal with the constant clothing needs of my boys. (check it our here!)
This strategy has been very effective in helping me manage my boy’s clothing. Simply put- you get a tote or box and label them “Too Big”, “Too Small” and “Keepsakes”. When you have a piece of clothing that is too big or too small, you immediately place them in there labeled tote. This is a process you do whenever you are getting your kids dressed or putting away their laundry. Your keepsakes box gathers all the things you think are special and should be saved. Twice a year, usually during season changes, I sort through the boxes and send the stuff to there next destination (donate, storage for the next child, etc.). I sort through keepsakes and toss the ones I no longer think need to be kept (like the items that just aren’t that special or if I can’t remember I why I kept it in the first place) and store away the rest in a different clear plastic tub that is kept in our basement storage area.
School File Boxes
School paper- who isn’t overwhelmed by it? Many of my client’s have found this paper vice to be very challenging. In order to not let the paper monster overtake your home and mental space, you must have a plan to conquer it before you open their backpacks. My personal strategy is to use school file boxes like these:
Start by purchasing a basic clear plastic file box for each child and at least 14 hanging file folders with the metal brackets. You can get some really cute and fun file folders at office supply stores. I chose to use extra hanging files that I already had on hand.
Next, figure out how you want to label each folder. I chose to print labels on a piece of paper and then cut them out. I am not a fan of my handwriting and prefer the cohesive look of something printed. You could also use a label maker. Either way, you will need a label for each grade and maybe even previous day care or preschool.
Next, place labels in there covers at the back of each file folder and then move one or two slots over for the next file so you can easily see each label.
Now it’s time to fill the folders!
Don’t forget to label your boxes! Have fun with it! You could even have your kids decorate their name and tape it to the front. Getting them involved can be fun!
A couple of things… First, don’t feel like you have to back track if your kids are older and there school stuff is not organized. Your best option is to start now and only re-organize past papers if you have the time and energy. Second, you may need two file folders for every year, but try not to add more than that. Be selective as to the things you choose to keep. Third, consider doing a photo book or album for most of their paper or art work. You can do this by taking a picture of items you want to remember and then uploading those photos to a book site and have it printed. This way, you have a very nice book to remember all the awesome stuff they worked on or created but not all the clutter that would come with keeping and storing it all. Lastly, be strategic as to where you keep this box. It should be easily accessed so you can add to it with ease. I plan on keeping mine in my garage near my back kitchen door.
Personally, I try to keep things that are exceptionally special or cute. I take pictures of the rest and print them in a book at the end of the school year. You can even take a picture of your child holding their art work which may help them to feel better about placing their work in the trash (or do it later when they are not looking- I know I am not the only one who dies this!)
A toy library is my favorite way to manage my kid’s toys. Not only does it help you to not be over run by toys, but it also help your kids actually play with the toys they have. All you have to do is keep a few toys out at a time and store away (in your “library”) the rest. When they want to retrieve a toy in the library, they have to return a toy (or toys) of equal size. Psychologically, kids can be overwhelmed by too many options (just like adults) and by reducing their retrievable toy options, you help them to really enjoy the toys they have available for daily play. (Check out that post here!)
Now that I have a shared a few of my organizing tricks, let me know what you do to keep your kids organized!