Top Tips for Family Home Organisation
When you don’t have children your idea of home organisation is slightly different to when you do. When it comes to putting things away as a grown up you want things to look visually pleasing, smart and in keeping with the overall décor of your home. When you have children there comes a point when the main aim of your storage goals is to do whatever it takes to avoid standing on a sword-edge sharp piece of Lego that has ninja-moved its way into the lounge when you weren’t looking.
Children are great, they are enormous fun, cute, funny much more. They also come with a hell of a lot of stuff. And it is stuff. There’s games, toys, child-related equipment, soft toys (oh so many soft toys) and all manner of other child-related stuff. These things also seem to breed in the same way that the Tribbles did in Star Trek (Trek fans will be nodding vigorously now but for those not enlightened consider how one cute gremlin turned into thousands of not-so cute gremlins in the film… Gremlins).
There comes a time when you have to decide to either put your foot down and sort the clutter or move somewhere bigger. We’re going to try and help you save some money and square footage with our top tips for family home organisation.
The first step to achieving a home organisation zen-like state is to get rid of a lot of your unnecessary items. We’re not talking about a Marie Kondo clear-out, just a good old-fashioned sort out. Do this room by room and try and be ruthless.
- Are toys broken – bin them.
- Are toys no longer used and putting them away for younger siblings isn’t necessary / an option – donate or sell them.
- Do the children not play with something but it’s too good to get rid of? Put it away for another day (more about this later!).
- Do clothes fit? Are they too small? Donate them!
Try and throw out, donate or sell as much as you can, provided that they genuinely aren’t any use to you or your family anymore.
Getting Rid of Things
Once you’ve decided what you’re going to get rid of, get rid of it! Don’t put it in the garage or the attic, don’t keep them “just in case” unless you really are fine with not achieving the organised home that you’d hoped for. Send good quality toys, games, baby equipment and clothing to a local charity shop or organisation that will rehome them. What better way to put your unwanted items to use?
Some items are just too good to give away for nothing however. Facebook buy and sell pages that cater for your locality are great for selling these sorts of things and being local you don’t need to worry about postage and similar as buyers will generally speaking pick up from your home. Ebay and other selling sites are good if you have something that is particularly niche or worth a fair bit of money as you are able to advertise it to a wider audience. Just don’t spend whatever you make on new toys, games and clothes for the kids!
Everything in its Place
Now you’ve had a good clear out it is important to allocate items not only to specific rooms but specific places and containers.
First of all, don’t get over-excited and buy hundreds of pounds worth of specialist storage furniture. You really don’t need it. Start by investing in plastic tubs of varying sizes, from smaller tubs for game pieces to larger ones for their massive Lego stash. Pinterest is great for creative and budget-friendly storage ideas but try not to get sucked into the perfection of it all. We are yet to see any parent organise Lego by colour and not find it in one big mixed pile at the end of the week.
Once you have your small bits and pieces contained look at soft toys. These can be a real pain in a way as they take up a lot of room yet are the toys your children become most attached to, making them hard to throw out. Why not get one of those toy nets that you can hang out of reach across the corner of a room and pop all but the very favourite soft toys up there. As kids can’t reach them they won’t be pulled down day after day but they can choose a new teddy or doll at the end of the day for bedtime if they swap it for one they have on their bed already.
Check all games have all their parts and all jigsaws have their pieces and then put them away in a games cupboard or similar. If put away properly you and your children will be able to see straight away what’s in there and if you work to the “one in and one out” rule you’ll be able to keep things tidy.
Clothing is difficult to keep tidy in a child’s room, especially if your child likes to dress up or change their outfit thirteen times a day. One of the parents here at ParentsNeed HQ got so fed up of sorting out her children’s closets that she put a box in the bottom of each to put pyjamas and casual clothing that could be easily accessed for clothing changes and whatnot, which meant that the school uniforms and clothes that needed to stay hung up and creaseless could do so.
Seasonal clothing could either be packed away under their bed in a vacuum bag or just moved to one side of the closet / down a few drawers. Some parent rotate children’s clothes seasonally whereas other find it to be extra work and not really necessary. What would work best in your house?
Rotate Toys and Games
Once you’ve bagged, boxed or container-organised everything you need to decide which items are going to stay and which are going to be put away for a while. Rotating toys and games is a great way to avoid having too much stuff in a child’ room, the playroom, the lounge and everywhere else it seems to spread to. If you put half of the toys and games away you can get them down and swap them around, perfect for a rainy day. This makes toys and games last longer as they appear almost new to the children who maybe haven’t seen them for months. If they were all in their rooms all along the chances are they’d just be taking up shelf space or worse, floor space!
One of the worst culprits when it comes to clutter and mess are art and craft supplies. By this we mean paper, pens, pencils, crayons, colouring in books, paints, brushes, stickers and everything else that comes with children. Instead of trying to keep all of these odd-shaped items sorted and separated get a big box with a lid and dump everything in. Make sure all “clean” card and paper lies flat on the bottom then fill the rest of the box with all of the rest of the art and craft goodies.
A top tip from us to you is to put a second, smaller lidded box into the big art and craft box with the worst of the “messy stuff” in. Glue, glitter (who invented glitter?), paints etc. This makes it easier to whisk these very fun but most messy items away easily when you just want the children to draw or colour in (not everyone wants to have a full painting afternoon every day).
Keeping it Organised
Doesn’t your house feel better? Of course now you need to find an effective way to keep on top of things.
Rule Number One: Stop buying! If your children have oodles of craft supplies, hundreds of books and more toys, even after the declutter “shake down” than enough they don’t need more, especially when you are rotating a lot of it to keep it “fresh”.
Rule Number Two: Repeat after us. “One in and one out”. This is a rule for both you and your children. If you do buy a new toy or game, you need to recycle or donate one you have in. If you don’t do this before you know it you’ll be back in “house stuffed with stuff” mode again, otherwise known as back to square one.
This rule applies to children in much the same way. When you’ve finished playing with one thing put it away before you get another. If they want a different doll or teddy, one needs to go back with the others first. If they’ve taken their clothes off (again) to change their outfit (again) they need to put the original one away before they can put another one on. The one and one rule needs to become second nature.
Rule Number 3: Make children responsible for their own items. Tidying up after each activity needs to be done as soon as the activity ends and the children need to take responsibility for this. Of course little ones do not necessarily love tidying up but they’ll soon realise that putting their Lego away is easier than putting their Lego, forty-six teddy bears, seventy too cars, four games plus all their scattered pieces and everything else (it also helps to reinforce the one in and one out rule).
Rule Number 4: Weekly Maintenance is a must. Clutter does creep back in as being busy or tired (you and the kids) means that the games cupboard may not quite remain ship-shape so that some games now live in front of it instead of fitting inside and so on. A quick sort and tidy will keep on top of things and gives you the opportunity to access which parts of your new system work and what things need changing. It also offers you the opportunity to weed out anything broken and in need of repair or binning.
Rule Number 5: The Big Reassess. Every six months, schedule in time to do another big clutter and move things about as necessary. Children grow, their likes and dislikes alter and so the toys and games they have easiest access at any given point may not suit them so much six months down the line.
Above all, be realistic. You have children. Children still have stuff, plenty of stuff, even after you’ve enjoyed a massive decluttering session. Children are not natural-born tidying up experts and they will make a mess. Trying to have the perfectly clean and tidy home all the time when you have children is like trying to plug a dam with a cork; limited in its effectiveness. If however you lower your expectations somewhat and aim for tidy most of the time, order most of the time and you knowing where everything is most of the time you have a decent chance of achieving this.
Time with your family isn’t about spending every minute picking things up, cleaning and tidying. In fact, making a mess should be encouraged sometimes as should their creativity. Just make sure that you keep on top of your new system so that you have room to safely enjoy your time with the little ones without tearing your hair out!