I’m a mum of two, a primary school teacher, and a professional organiser. I lead a very busy life, and to save myself from having a mental breakdown, I need to be organised to cope with all life throws at me.
Having learned many strategies to keep me on track, my aim is to help people with busy lives and children, to find more space in their homes, and more time in their lives by creating environments that are organised and work efficiently.
This is not about creating a ‘perfect’ environment, but a realistic and maintainable one. What I want is for the space to ‘work’ for you.
So let’s start with your children’s bedroom. Whether you have one, two or many children, kids collect so much stuff, and it seems to multiply daily.
So how do we keep it in order?
How to declutter and organise your child’s toys and clothes
- My first tip is to have a bag at your front door, where anything that no longer fits goes straight in that bag. You may give that bag to a friend with smaller children, or send it to a charity shop. Either way, someone will be grateful for some clothing and you will have more room in your drawers and wardrobe.
- Don’t put the items back in the drawer to do later – undoubtedly you will get busy with something else and the clothes won’t leave the room. As the saying goes strike while the iron is hot and do it immediately.
- Be conscious of how many clothes your child really needs. As a rule we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. If they crush easily or are fiddly, and you keep putting them back in the cupboard because they are difficult (the clothes not the kids), then why keep them?
- Donate. Remember the more clothes you own, the more space they take up. The more washing and ironing you will do … the more work this makes. The aim is to create more time for you.
- If your child has a bookcase in the bedroom, consider a cull of the bookshelf. Kids outgrow books and those that are ‘much loved’ may need to go to book heaven.
- Remember the library is a cheap and easy way to rotate books on a regular basis. If they don’t like the book, just return it and replace with something else. Much cheaper than buying books and a great way to expose children to a variety of authors and subject matter. (The library is also a great place to borrow children’s DVDs. They are free and don’t need to clutter the TV area for years to come!)
The bane of most parents’ lives. Like rabbits they multiply, and one is never enough. If you have a child with allergies they can be major dust collectors, and seem to take up more room than a sofa. So, how to tackle the problem?
A few strategies you can use are:
- Tell your child they have a limit of four small stuffed toys or two large. If more stuffed toys arrive, they need to follow the rule, one new toy in, one old toy goes out. (This same rule should apply to all parent belongings too.)
- If your collection has reached mammoth proportions you can try appealing to their better nature and ask them to give some away to kids less fortunate.
- If that doesn’t work, you could store the excess away for a while and see if they ask about them in a month. If not, give them to charity.
- Barbies seem to have tiaras, hair ribbons, shoes and jewellery. All seem to end up either in the dog’s mouth, the vacuum or stubbed into the heel of your bare foot. LEGO and Bionicles suffer the same fate. Use a Tupperware container or lunchbox with an attached lid to store all those small items. An attached lid means you won’t lose the lid as well as the bits and pieces.
- If your child is old enough, get them to collect all the items after play is finished. You’ll be surprised at what children are capable of – check out this list of age-appropriate chores for children. Make it a game to see how quickly the pieces are back in the box.
- For larger items a small wheelie bin (similar to the recycle bins) are great to store toys. Because they have wheels, kids can push the bin from one space to another and then place the items in the bin after play and wheel it back to its designated area.
- As children get bored with toys rather quickly, as great idea is to have some coloured storage boxes to pack away a proportion of the toys and rotate the collection every few weeks so they have variety without you having to bring even more toys into the house. Note: The reason I say coloured boxes is so the child can’t see what is inside. Guaranteed, whatever is in the box that is stored, will be the item the child wants. Out of sight out of mind.
- To keep your toy population from expanding beyond capacity, a suggestion you could make to relatives would be they band together and buy one big present rather than lots of small presents for Christmas or birthdays. Another idea is to ask them to buy an activity for your child or a ticket to a family attraction or theme park. Cooking lessons, a movie day out, Luna Park… the list is endless and the experience will be more memorable. One day when your child grows up, they’re more likely to say ‘remember when Auntie took me ice skating and I learned to skate backwards’ as opposed to ‘remember when Auntie bought me another Barbie/more LEGO.’ Which would your child prefer?
Remember the aim of the game is to stress less, enjoy life more, and spend quality with your kids, not just clean up after them!