Organizing With Kids

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Tips to Keep the Whole Family Organized

storage bins for the family

With five kids, we have *stuff* coming out our ears! I give myself a C+ when it comes to organizing and declutter… there’s DEFinitely room for improvement, but I am pretty good and creating systems that the kids can basically follow and, when it comes to organizing for a whole family, that’s a HUGE part of the challenge. Don’t get me wrong… open up a hallway closet and there’s no telling what you might find, but nine times out of ten, there’s a place for every ‘thing.’

1. Create categories

The first thing I do with the kids toys and games is to sort them. The first time I did this, I started with categories that seemed obvious: dolls, balls, wooden toys, cars, music… for the most part, these groupings totally worked, but I learned that we had random groups (like rubber ducks) that should be in their own category. Warning: this step will be messy. It involves pulling EVERYTHING out of bins and creating piles. Ideally, you want each pile to be a similar size… if one pile is enormous and another pile is tiny, then maybe consider creating a different theme for those piles.

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create categories for kids stuff

2. Find the right container

There are lots and lots and lots of ADORABLE containers out there, but don’t let aesthetics suck you in. For our house, I’m looking for the containers that aren’t going to break the bank and ones that will hold up to being dragged around the house, being sat in, and being generally man handled.

find the right container for storage
Pack Your Own Lunch Station

3. Consider your audience

My kids are ages 8.5 through 2.5… which means, I need to find bins and baskets. If it has a latch or a drawer or hundreds of intricate little containers, the younger set won’t be able to keep things up. Remember… the goal is for the KIDS to stay organized and keep things going!

keeping kids organized
Organizing Our Mudroom


4. Label

When our oldest was 4, I printed out pictures of each toy category and used these as my labels…. Now that the kids are older, they can usually help each other maneuver ‘actual’ labels so I use my trusty label maker to add text to what I can.

labels on kids storage bins

5. Periodically double check and purge

Every few weeks, I try to tackle one of the kids rooms to keep things in order. I quickly rifle through toy bins and pull out things that are in the wrong place. I throw out toys that are broken. I get rid of the dozens of drawings they start and never finish…

family room storage solution family room storage solution

6. Fight the urge to be sentimental

Now, before you go thinking I’m a cold hearted snake… bear with me on this. I DO save favorite kids drawings and I DO try to tuck away the occasional vintage toy or favorite snuggy… but more often than not, I try to be ruthless about purging the kids toys. Arthur is 2.5 so this is the first time in eight years that I’ve had to give away baby toys, and some are definitely hard to part with. I always ask myself… is this “X” something that my kids would care about in 20 years? Is this “X” something that would be extraordinarily cool for my grandkids in 30 years? *Most* of the time, the answer is no. Recently I saw this adorable system by Joanna Gaines and she packed up a smallish bin for each of her kids with some of their favorite baby clothes, books, toys… not many, but a snapshot of their baby years. (I have NOT done this, btw…)

storage options with kids
DIY Rope Storage Bin

7. When in doubt, grab another basket

.As much as I’d love to be a Elfa poster child, there are just places in our house that lend themselves to… crap. Our family room ends up getting toy spillover from the playroom. I have two bins hidden under the TV that help, but… as you can see… they’re overflowing. Every night, I shepherd  most of the clutter back into the playroom, but I finally caved and grabbed one cute little basket to stick in the corner and another bin for the books.

storage for kids stuff
Family Room

8. You’re not being judged

At the end of the day, remind yourself that no one is coming through your home to give you a grade so don’t be too hard on yourself. The point of being organized is to make your life easier… if kids know where toys are, they’ll use them… they’ll know how to clean up… they won’t ask for *another* Batman when they see the bucket of Batmans in the corner.

organize toys like a mom
Upholstered Ikea Shelf

9. Baby steps

There are moments when I look around our house and cannot believe the excess and the clutter and the sheer volume of all the STUFF. It’s overwhelming and discouraging and paralyzing. But then I try to take on ONE small area… maybe it’s the five toy bins in the girls’ room. Maybe it’s the bath toys. Maybe I’m eager for a podcast binge so I take on the dress ups! I don’t know about you, but once I’ve organized ONE space… I’m a million percent more motivated to move onto another!

dress up storage bin
Dress Up Storage


10. If it doesn’t work, try again

There have been countless times, when I get all excited about this great organizational solution and then a few months go by and… it’s just. not. working. I had two separate bins of plastic animals and plastic people for ages and the kids would NEVER keep them separate. Guess what, now they’re all one big happy family in their own bin. Turns out dress-up scarves are a pretty big deal in our house so they have their own bin too! Small little examples, but you get the idea… do what works for YOUR kids and YOUR family. Just because Pinterest had a great suggestion, doesn’t mean it will jive with your brood.

How a family of seven organizes their mudroom.

If you were even a LITTLE bit impressed by this, then you have to click around and see what my talented friends have to offer: Tasha from Designer Trapped, Annie from DIY Decor Mom, Chelsea from Making Home Base and Chelsea from Two Twenty One.



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