Do you cringe every time you walk into your toddler’s room? Tired of finding toys scattered throughout the living room? When you have kids, it suddenly seems like you don’t have nearly enough storage space to contain all the kid stuff. It’s important not to sweat the small stuff, so if your home is a little rough around the edges, that just means it’s lived in. However, small stuff aside, many parents are awash in toys, clothing and accessories that never seem to have a place to be stored. The answer is better organization and simplification of the way you live. These are our top tips for simplifying your house.
1. Prioritize. The first thing you must do is figure out which items are truly the most important for you or your child to hang on to. Your daughter’s first baby blanket makes the cut – the toy she’s played with twice since Christmas does not.
2. Purge. Your children don’t actually need all 50 toys they’ve accumulated over their first five years, nor do you need to save them just in case you have another child. Go room by room and do a complete purge. Remove every toy, clothes and accessory and create three piles: donate, keep and trash.
3. Leave an Empty Drawer. When you put everything away, keep one drawer empty. That’s how you know you donated and threw away enough items. Now you’ll have a place for little things and things you may acquire in the future.
4. Bins and Baskets. Most children’s toys and accessories are hard to store. The smaller ones don’t have boxes at all. No need to have these perfectly organized on a shelf. Instead fill your bookcase and closets with bins and baskets. This allows you and your kids to quickly put everything away.
5. School Shelf. Keep a shelf or drawer for your kids’ schoolwork only. That way everyone knows where their homework and schoolbooks are, and they get into a routine of putting away their homework. It helps mom and dad track down those permission slips easily.
6. Kids Clean. Kids are never too young to learn how to clean up. Don’t become the parents whose kids watch TV while the parents are hurriedly putting things away. Children as young as 1 can pick up their toys and put them in a bin. Although your home won’t be squeaky clean all the time, count on your kids to clean at least once a week.
7. Buy Less. Every birthday and Christmas seems to result in an influx of more things. Resist the urge to have giant, thing-filled birthdays and Christmases. Talk to your kids about the joy of giving and have him give away one of his toys to charity on each of these occasions. Ask grandparents to please limit their giving to one special item.
8. Quality Over Quantity. If you have too much stuff, then odds are your kids are starting to learn that “he who has the most toys, wins.” This is a dangerous precedent to set, since having lots of stuff isn’t the key to happiness. Ask your kids to choose their five most favored toys, and get rid of the rest. Stress nicer, longer-lasting toys over cheap and breakable ones.
By observing these rules of simplification, you and your kids will be happier, healthier and on your way to a more organized home.