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Helping Children Get Organized

I’m sure I’m not the only parent who can testify to (seemingly) constant messy children’s rooms.  It’s like a never ending pit of stuff that magically appears on the floor 5 minutes after being picked up.  Who puts it there?  I’m not even sure.  There is no possible way my children can make a mess that fast.  I don’t get it.

And then I take a look at my stuff.  My junk drawer, my bedside table, my “important” papers pile, etc., and I realize that the problem is not just crazy kids with a knack for destruction.  The problem most often lies with the types of organizational systems I have (or don’t have) set in place.  The areas with shelves, buckets, labels, and files are the areas that are easy to maintain.  For my girls, dress up clothes are easy to clean up because they have designated “dress-up hooks.”  Cars and trucks are easy for my 2 year old to clean up because he has a “car” drawer.  My husband’s pay stubs are easy for me to file because I have a folder specifically for them.  School supplies are easy to put away because I have at least 20 labeled tubs each holding different supplies.

Instead of getting so frustrated with my children’s rooms, I’ve set out to find creative (and frugal) ways to help them get organized.  When everything has a place, it is so much easier for children to help put things away and control their messes.  They begin to rememberwhere to find their favorite toys, which cuts down on the time I spend searching for that 1/2 inch fairy shoe.  When they can’t find their stuff,  I like to ask a simple question like, “well, did you put Mr. Bear away in the stuffed animal tub yesterday?” to help them learn that they can more quickly and easily play with their stuff if they just take a little time keeping them organized.  It still takes time to teach children how to organize their stuff, but it is well worth it once they get it

Here are some of our recent organizational tools that we’ve added into our kids’ rooms over the last couple months.  Most everything has been up-cycled or repurposed from something else.  They are nothing fancy, just helpful.  Frugal creativity is a necessity in our home!

1. Book boxes.  These are made from old cereal boxes in various sizes.  I cut them down into a shape I liked, covered them with brown postal paper (find it at the Dollar Store), and labeled them with scrapbook paper.  These boxes primarily hold chapter books, keeping them separate from all the other books in the shelves below them so that my 5 year old can find what she needs.

2. Under the bed tubs.  Under the bed is a great storage place that so often gets forgotten (or at least gets used to hide all the things you want to forget).  After getting rid of all our little girl clothing (since our last baby is a boy), we had several of these empty tubs.  I used two of the slimmer ones to hold A) American Girl dolls and their stuff and B) Stuffed animals and barbie-type dolls.  They are light and easy to access for the kids, and they are perfect for hiding all those things from eye-sight in their room.  You could easily fit 3 tubs under a bed, and could include tubs for things like dress-ups, cars, shoes, and more.

3.  Book shelves from old pallets.  The latest pallet-craze you’ve probably witnessed on Pinterest was one I swore I’d never join.  Then my husband mentioned these pallets out back by the dumpster at his work and I quickly changed my mind, driving to his work the next day to dig through the pallets.  (Okay, so maybe I initially refused to join the pallet revolution because I was just jealous that everyone could actually find these pallets in the first place.)  We chopped them up, sanded, painted (using leftover paint from a recent kitchen island project), and hung them in my son’s room for his books.  Now he finally has something to hold his books, too!  The best part was that these super cute and useful shelves were totally free!

4. Tubs for books in the closet.  After installing a new (old) shelf in the girls’ closet, I placed some more of those flat, empty tubs on the wire shelf to hold books (I know, you’re probably starting to notice that we have a crazy amount of books).  I rotate these books with the ones that are in storage cubes in their room, but they are also at a good height for the kids to reach them when they want.

5.  Hooks.  Okay, these have actually been there for a while, but I wanted to mention them because they are so great and helpful.  We had this old hook thingy that was without purpose when we moved to our new house last year.  We hung it in the girl’s room and it holds all of their dress-up stuff, including purses and necklaces.

These simple items have helped a TON in regards to our children being more responsible for cleaning up their own spaces.  While I definitely still have to help, I don’t need to help quite as much.  And when they want to find a certain toy, they have a much easier time finding it.And, for the sake of showing you that I have not mastered the messy room epidemic altogether, here is a picture of what their room looked like no less than 30 minutes after I helped them tidy it up for me to take pictures:

Sigh.  What’s a mom to do?

What creative and/or frugal ways do you help your children organize their rooms or spaces?

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About Jessica Locke

Jessica Locke
Jessica Locke is a wife and stay-at-home mom of four children ages 5 and under. She is a new homeschooling mom who swore she’d NEVER ever even possibly consider homeschooling her children. She loves finding creative ways to stretch her small budget, drinking chai, writing, and eating anything with a peanut butter and chocolate combination. You can check out her latest thoughts on life as a mom, creative tutorials, activities for kids, and easy recipes on her blog, “Mothering With Creativity.”

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