It’s all well and good to organize your home. There's no greater feeling of accomplishment after you've put everything away. You celebrate with a cup of coffee or wine. You go back to take in the freshly organized room only to find it torn apart by your toddlers.
Staying organized when you have toddlers running around is difficult. But not impossible despite what some parents claim. I promise you there's always something you can do to keep your home organized.
Here are six of the best tricks you can start doing to keep order even with young children.
Keep small and valuable items out of reach
Kids are resilient. It’s incredible what they can achieve if they set their mind to it. You can block the stairs with a safety gate and they’ll still find a way over — or under — it. Hide snacks and they’ll sniff them out.
Kids love what adults have. They want to drive a car. They want to go to work. Kids love getting their hands on things that don’t belong to them. This is why it’s important to keep certain things out of reach. Whatever small or valuable items you have.
These items can include:
Important work documents
You can add anything else to this list. The key is to put these items somewhere you know your kids either can’t reach or don’t have any interest in going to. Dedicate a section of your closet for them. Install some command hooks near the door for keys rather than leaving them on a surface.
It’ll take some creativity but it’s worth it. This has two benefits. One, you're removing any choking hazards from their grasp. And two, you're creating a home for these items so you always know where to find them.
Get some baskets, then get some more
Baskets and cloth storage bins are some of the best solutions for toys. They’re low to the ground so kids can easily reach inside and get what they want. They’re decorative so you can display them in your living room. Simply throw a blanket over the top to hide the toys inside when you have company.
They come in all shapes and sizes and there’s a design out there for everyone. You can buy a similar set or mix and match. Most baskets are sold separately so you can have fun with the designs.
Set baskets up where kids play the most. Encourage them to put toys they’re done with back in the basket. It’s a great way to teach them how to clean up without making it seem like too much of a chore. Putting a toy back in a basket is quicker than bringing every toy to a specific space.
Leave a basket in a hallway to put any wayward toys your kids might have missed. Keep those floors clear to avoid stepping on any in the middle of the night.
One-stop laundry drop zone
Do you have a hamper in every bedroom? What about the bathroom? When you collect laundry do you have to go to three or more different areas? It’s time you create a one-stop laundry drop zone.
Set up one hamper in the entire house for everyone to put their dirty laundry in. Don’t use a small basket because you don’t want kids to mix up their toys and laundry. Buy a tall hamper and set it in an often circulated area.
Some locations you can set the zone up in include:
In the hallway near all bedrooms.
Inside a closet everyone has access to.
In a room or closet near the laundry room.
It’s important to let your family know where they should put their laundry. Are you still going to do a sweep of your kids’ bedrooms before starting a load? Most likely. But teaching them to put their dirty clothes in the same place every time makes it easier on you.
Put storage where the majority of toys are
Do your kids have a central playroom? Do they play more in their bedrooms or in the living room? Do you have a den where they prefer to throw their LEGOs all over? Take stock of where your kids play the most and set up storage in that room.
You'll have storage in other rooms where toys end up, but it's important to try and keep most toys in the main play area. Again, this can be the living room, bedroom, or a dedicated playroom.
Get yourself a shelving unit where you can store cloth bins or see-through containers. Store similar toys together. Cars and trucks in one bin. Dolls in another. Fake cooking ware in another.
Remember, baskets are good for loose toys. Storage is where you can get more systematic. Both are vital if you are dealing with a lot of toys.
Purge toys on a recurring basis
One of the best ways to stay on top of toys is to schedule an annual or bi-annual declutter of them. Some parents swear by decluttering every three months. Go through everything. Toys, clothes, shoes, accessories; everything!
Declutter before birthdays and holidays. This is the time kids receive new toys and forget about the old ones. It's the perfect time to lighten the load and donate any aged-out toys. This way you’re not dealing with more, you’re dealing with equal.
If you had to throw something away you know your kid loves, create a shareable wishlist to send to people. Let them know specifically what your kid needs or wants. Set limits to what people can get them. If you want to start staying on top of how many toys your children have, this is one of the best ways.
When you declutter, follow a set of rules. If an article of clothing hasn’t been worn in six months or more, donate it. Same thing goes for toys. If you can’t remember the last time your kid touched a specific toy, give it away.
Get them involved
Getting your kids involved in the organizing process is a great way to keep your home organized. Don’t underestimate them. Kids love doing what adults do. It’s true that they learn by seeing and doing.
Show them how easy it is to put something away at the end of the day. If you treat it like an annoying chore, so will they. Make it a game. Tell them whoever can organize the fastest gets to stay up five extra minutes.
You can’t hope to keep the home organized by yourself. You need your family to help. Know they won’t always be on top of it as you will, but if you make it a habit for you, you can make it a habit for them. And since kids pick up habits faster than adults, it won’t take long.
These six tips are just the beginning. There’s so many ways you can keep an organized house even with toddlers running around.
The main thing is to understand that kids are going to be messy at times. But teaching them to be organized is not as hard as you think. Start them early and they’ll grow with it. Who knows? You might be raising a future professional organizer.
If you need more tips and tricks on how to organize with toddlers, contact me today. Let’s chat about ways to improve your organizational systems and how best to get your kids involved.