I love reading decorating magazines and perusing Pinterest but I find myself thinking that would never work in our home or the toddler would have that demolished in 1.2 seconds. You too? Instead of feeling discouraged with the current state of your home or what you can’t do with your space to make it look like a magazine, embrace the stage that your family is in and look for ways to make your home ‘just right’ for your family. Today I have 5 practical ways to organize with a family in mind.
- BASKETS – Store toys and small kid items in baskets. The items are hidden and the baskets add a decorative and soft touch to living spaces. Add a simple hang tag or label if you’d like or just leave it without any labels and let the items do the labeling. We have a bookcase in our living room with lots of baskets for books, cars, animals, Magna-tiles, etc. Kids can be in the family space, take out a basket or two at a time and return the basket to its spot themselves. I love the look on the bookcase – keep the baskets all the same or vary them for interest. When our kids are older the bookcase will return to a full bookcase, but for now this is a great organization compromise.
- FURNITURE – Use furniture with dual-purposes in mind. Furniture is typically purchased for looks and not always storage, but make sure you are utilizing your furniture and any storage that you do have. The coffee table in our living room holds puzzles and games and the end table holds card games in a large open basket. If you were to walk through the living room you would have no idea any kids items were stored there. This is a great way to keep a ‘formal’ living room kid friendly – my kids love to sit at the fancy couch and play games together.
- CREATE NOOKS AND CORNERS – When you are organizing your rooms take time to think about what you’d like to see in that room. Regardless of the size of your space, think about what you want to see your family doing – games, reading, watching movies, creating, playing. Add a basket or a bin in that space with books, movies, games, or toys. Make the corner or nook more inviting by moving a lamp over to the space or place a basket of blankets nearby. We have a little closet in our craft room that I converted into a reading closet. All I added were floor pillows, a basket with books, and headlamps (for reading in the dark). It doesn’t take much to create an organized (and fun) family space.
- GOING UP OR DOWN BASKETS – Use baskets or bags to temporarily house items that need to be returned to bedrooms. Kids can grab the basket or bag at the end of the day and return any items to its spot. Playing off this idea you can also encourage cleaning up by using the ‘one in, one out’ rule. If something is taken out something else has to be put away. This is a really hard one to implement because it needs A LOT of positive reinforcement and modeling to take off, but it’s worth it if you have the energy to enforce it.
- MAKE IT FUN – If your family enjoys a challenge or a good game, use it to your advantage when it comes to cleaning up and organizing. Use timers to clean up – set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and see how much can be cleaned up. Need a little help in the garage? Turn your garage into a parking lot and make sure bikes get returned to their spots so they don’t get a ‘ticket’. Think of ways to make cleaning up and organizing more fun for your family – something everyone can appreciate!
What would you add? Share an idea or two that works in your home!
If you liked this post, I talk about all things clean and organized on my blog, Clean Mama, I’d love for you to come visit!
I love the idea of using furniture with dual purposes. Then when people come over the toys are hidden but easy access when they are not.
For families with multiple kids, the “Mystery Scrap” game is a wonderful quick clean up game!
What You Need:
– A room or area that needs to be tidied up
– 2 or more kids
– Someone to supervise
– A small prize (we have used things like who gets to select the family movie, choosing what will be for dinner, small prizes like pencils, or other treats/privileges)
How To Play:
– Choose your “Mystery Scrap” item – can be any random thing that needs to be tidied up, from a gum wrapper, to a stuffed monkey – you can name the game you are playing at the time to fit your clean up goals. KEEP THE ITEM SECRET!
– Tell your kiddos where and what, “‘I’ve picked a mystery toy in the family room!”
– Each item is shown to you as it is picked up and put away
– Once EVERY item (scraps, toys, clothes, whatever you are playing with) is picked up and put away, you announce what the item was “The mystery toy was the PINK GIRAFFE!!” – because each item was shown to you as it was picked up, the winner is know, announced, and given their prize.
Love the headlamps for reading in the dark! Adorable. Sets up reading as a treat. Also, big thumbs up to the Basket Up and Basket Down idea. A great principle – like making sure you’ve got something in your hand to put away every time you walk out of a room.
polly plum says
Erin,I have 5 kids, also, ages 5-19,and I was given the same suggestion when I joined a MOM’s group yrs ago- each child gets his/her own color so when they’re small, bottles, pacifiers, sippy cups don’t get mixed up, since each child knows to look for his own color. They still have their own colors for bath towels, toothbrushes, and laundry baskets. This ends the ‘ Who keeps taking 2 towels a day to shower??!argument.
We have 5 kids, and we organize almost everything by color- each child has their own. We use it for towels, wash cloths, toothbrushes, coats, lunch boxes, backpacks, storage baskets, blankets, bathrobes, big pillows by the TV – we even had bikes by color for a while (till out-growing started kicking in). It made it really obvious who hadn’t been putting things away, and when they were younger it made it easier for them to recognize their own items and take responsibility.
As they’ve gotten older and they are more careful with some of their possessions (and they are buying and choosing things for themselves more often) we do it less often, but it was very helpful in those first 8 years or so.
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and anecdotes to help you change unhealthful emotions like anger, depression, anxiety, and perfectionism.
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” The parable of The Precious Present is a quiet one to muse upon and sit with, and finally to take into your heart.