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April 1, 2015

How to Organize Your Kids' Stuff

Welcome, mamas! Kids come with stuff - No matter how much we try to tame it, the fact remains. 
This post includes all kinds of ideas for how to organize your kids' stuff! These are things that have worked well in our home, and my hope is that some of these ideas will trigger inspiration for your space. 

Organize Kids

In the Car:

We have wholeheartedly embraced the mini-van life. My husband is convinced that - if ever necessary - we could live in our van. While I'm not so sure about that, we do try to keep it fully stocked with everything we need to survive traveling with little ones.

A diaper bag - for my youngest - stays in the van at all times - It is well-stocked with diapers, wipes, an extra change of clothes, a few snacks, a few little basic first-aid supplies, etc. Anytime this bag is needed (church nursery, play dates, childcare at our activities, etc.), it is easy to grab and go - only needing restocked every once and awhile. This saves me SO much time when I'm leaving the house in the mornings.

In addition to the ready-to-go diaper bag, there are two baskets that keep life in our kid-wagon running smoothly. 

This first basket includes wipes (of all you can see), bug spray, sunscreen, hand-sanitizer, small disposable bags for dirty diapers, etc. This basket stays up between the two front seats - and I love having these supplies easily accessible!

A large bottle of hand sanitizer stays in a cup holder - right next to my coffee cup. Mothers can survive anything as long as they have a good cup of coffee and large bottle of hand sanitizer!

Do your kids eat all.the.time? Mine do! I learned early on that I should never leave the house without A LOT of snacks coming along for the ride. This snack basket stays in our van as well - always fully stocked with squeeze packs, fig bars, peanuts, crackers, etc. 
On many occasions, this has been a life saver!

In the Nursery/Kids' Closets:

When it's time to create a new space or re-do an old one, I love to shop my house to find what I need! When it was time to create our last nursery, I decided that I would use this basket for diapers...instead of buying one of those diaper caddies that would eventually end up a yard sale. 

This basket has worked perfectly!

When my littles have first come home from the hospital, having baskets like this (that include wipes, diaper rash cream, etc.) located throughout the house has been super helpful. These extra little "makeshift changing stations" have kept me from running all around the house to find what I need when it's time to change ALL of those newborn diapers. 

In nursery closets, using small baskets (inside drawers) for socks, hats, burp cloths, etc. and medium-sized baskets (in closets) for shoes has definitely helped tame the stuff

For bigger little boy feet, those canvas hanging shoe organizers have been awesome (in closets) for shoes.

When it comes to their clothes, I use sized closet dividers.
Because I buy ahead, this makes it easy to keep their clothes well organized! 

Each kiddo has a laundry basket, and when it's time for their baths, they are responsible for putting their dirty clothes in their basket. We start this as soon as our littles are able to walk. Yes, I'm serious.

After I wash/fold my kids' clothes, their stuff goes down in a laundry basket. (Each family member has their own basket.) Their basket goes to their room...and they are responsible for putting it away in their drawers. I take care of my little ones' hanging items, but they are guided through doing the rest. Sure, things get unfolded...and drawers can end up looking...well, not like I would have them, but I have to remember that I am training them to be independent. 

Bonus Tip: Year round, this basket stays in a little cubby beside the door we use the most for coming in and out of the house. It is great for storing various things...

 ...but during the winter months, it is home to our hates, gloves, earmuffs, etc.
It's location helps us keep up with all of these things - and it's easily accessible for little hands to gather what they need/put back what they've used!

In the Pantry: 

I actually like to use this basket approach all around my house - rotating various-sized baskets as needed...using them for different things here and there - depending on the stage/season of life we find ourselves. (I usually find my baskets at yard sales and Home Goods!)

We are currently in a season of life when we use A LOT of these squeeze packs
Soooo, in our pantry, there are two giant wire baskets - one is just for Go-Go Applesauce squeeze packs and the other is for all of the other ones. 

Being able to access these this way has been made things easy!

Around the House:

Speaking of the kitchen, I keep this large basket near the cooking area - giving little hands something to do while I'm making dinner. Various books and toys are rotated in and out of this basket - and it has been a huge help to me - especially during that difficult hour (or two) before Daddy gets home from the office!
P.S. The basket rarely looks this neat.

Bath toys have a basket near the bathtub (though lots of times the toys just stay in the tub...let's be honest here.)...and each kiddo has a book basket and a toy basket in their room. Most of their toys are kept in their playroom, but I like to keep a few quiet toys in their bedroom so they have something to do when I ask them to play quietly in their room.

Psst....taming bathroom toys has been easy with this bathtub organizer basket from Kidco.

You may be doubled-over in laughter thinking about your children playing quietly in their rooms. So, let me say that for my kids (especially for my oldest...who has inherited my volume of loudness), this is something that has taken a good bit of training. It is all about training - I have learned that from Michelle Duggar. She's my hero.

Before heading upstairs for bath time/bedtime, the whole family works together to clean up the downstairs - which includes our main living space (living room/kitchen) and playroom. 

You can read more about how we do this by checking out:

From the time our little ones are able to place even a single item in a container, we start training them to clean up their toys. Once again, baskets are our best friend:

We have an animal basket...

a [huge] block basket...

 a basket for small cars...

 a letter block basket...

 another block basket (or two)...

You get the idea! 

We train our kiddos on what goes where, and it makes it easy for them to play the leading role in the clean-up process. 

I found two of these large basket bins at Home Goods, and I love them! One is for our ridiculously huge Mr. Potato Head collection, and the other one is used for Mega Blocks.

You may be wondering A basket for every.single.different.type.of.toy? No way! 
but let me explain how this works for us... 

First of all, we work hard to limit the amount of toys that our kids have. We do not keep everything they are gifted. They do not get every new toy that they spot at Target. We purge toys as they wear out, break, etc.

Secondly (and this is the biggest thing for us!), we rotate our kids' toys so that they do not have access to all of them at once. 

For example, right now there is an animal basket, a book basket, and a block basket in the living room. The living room baskets are pretty woven baskets that blend with our overall decor - keeping our living room from looking like a day care...most of the time. 

In the playroom, there are more baskets...and the cutesy baskets you see above...well, those are from our transportation-themed playroom

There is a closet in there, and I'm able to store toys in that closet and rotate various ones in and out as my kids grow tired of different things. This keeps our house...our kids...and us from being overwhelmed by toys scattered all throughout the house.

Larger toys fit great on these Ikea shelves that we've added to our playroom closet, and - as you can see - some of the small baskets rotate on and off these shelves perfectly!
(More about that here)

You can read more about how we do this by checking out:

One of our kitchen cabinets has been designated "The Art Cabinet"! It houses fingerpaints, Playdoh, markers/crayons/colored pencils, scissors & glue, all of our art supplies. Why? Because at this stage with little ones, doing these kinds of activities at our kitchen table seems to be the easiest thing. For organizing school supplies/art supplies, I have loved these stackable bins from IKEA. They come in all different sizes, and I have super impressed with the quality!

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